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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare, 3 Nov. 2007
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Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: "King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) (Paperback)
In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There are long stretches of real poetry in the Richard II-Henry V sequence that keep you going even through the heavy humour in, 4 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: "King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) (Paperback)
I'll divide this into a review of the play and the edition. Richard III is one of Shakespeare's plays most known of (if not known well) to the wider public and the scabrous image of wicked hunchback Dick has taken a firm hold on the popular imagination. Confusingly Shakespeare wrote two historical tetralogies but in reverse chronological order. So the more famous (Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two and Henry V) was historically earlier but written later; the historically later sequence (Henry VI Parts 1 to 3 and Richard III) was written earlier. I read the former first and the latter second. In terms of literary quality the sequence of writing shows. There are long stretches of real poetry in the Richard II-Henry V sequence that keep you going even through the heavy humour in the Henry IV plays (frankly I find Shakespearean humour ponderous at best and dull at worst for a modern audience). This was sufficient incentive to want to read the other sequence. Clearly the poetry is less and the quality less consistent. But again there was plenty to offer. I found the Henry VI sequence covered a lot of ground in an area of history I'm not too familiar with and the varying plot-line kept me interested even if Shakespeare was not always writing at his best. But I have to say I found Richard III a disappointing conclusion. Apart from the great opening monologue I found little poetic pay-off. The characterization of Richard was good. But there was a lot of the predictable stabbing-in-the-back, changing of sides and padding with battles (admittedly these would be fleshed out in actual performance). The constant round of betrayals and beheadings became boring and the play fizzled out in the well-known "my kingdom for a horse" climax.

Turning to the edition, the Arden editions are famed as probably the best and most academically respectable (or one of them) on the market. But this is a two-edged sword. Yes, they have all sorts of apparatus criticus, edition comparisons and emendations and learned commentaries on the background. Great for literature students and perhaps even actors. But as an intelligent layman I mainly want a glossary of the archaic words or expressions that may hold up my reading of the text, with just a brief introduction setting out the historical context of the play and its place in the two sequences of plays and perhaps some Shakespeare biography. The trouble with this edition is that the editing and explanation is so dense it's hard work to pick out the relevant pieces of interest from the academic pedantry. No doubt it's all there, but I don't want to wade through an academic tome. On the credit side the edition does include proper footnotes. On the debit side these are so densely packed with emendation material and drama scholarship that it becomes an onerous task to pick out the glossed words and expressions. Worse, some are not glossed at all (and I mean really arcane words and expressions). Admittedly I bought this because it was cheap rather than because I wanted the edition. But as a layman I found the less academically ambitious Bantam and Penguin editions better for my purposes - you could at least see a decent amount of text per page before running into the footnotes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Shakespeare, 2 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: "King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) (Paperback)
This, despite its pedigree, is still the most comprehensive edition of Shakespeare's 'Richard the Third' available. It has a fantastically detailed history of the plays Folio and Quarto versions and leads the student through the variations with clarity and precision. Through all of this it does not lose the fact that this is not a political commentary, it is a play that enacts the events of history in a way that interprets the human dynamic of the age in a way that can be presented in theatre.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, complete and expert - but a bit bland, 20 Nov. 2007
This review is from: "King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) (Paperback)
Difficult to liven up some of these without seeing the play etc, and just reading the words cold doesn't fill your average teen with joy. Mind you, what does? Anyway, this is a great range for revision, and we've found this one v v useful indeed. Some kid gripping exercises, or some real tabloid style comment would certainly liven things up from the kids point of view - but thats probably just not the done thing!! Imagine what Hello! would have made of the Richard story!!
But overall, well done chaps, keep them coming.
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"King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series)
"King Richard III": Second Series (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - 1 Dec. 1981)
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