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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Hamlet
The play itself should need no further introduction or comment.
The Arden Shakespeare is well-known in academic circles for their auhtoritative and comprehensive annotated editions of Shakespeare's works, and for the academic reader, this edition of Hamlet offers a lot of useful information.
There is a long section covering the different printed source editions...
Published on 22 Jan 2002 by Hakon Soreide

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where are the promised notes?
I selected this kindle version because the product description claims it is 'annotated with
intelligence and care, a wealth of historical and cultural references and a
survey of different critical approaches to the play'.
This is probably true of paperback but the kindle edition comes with no notes at all. We need to be told this before we buy.
Published 7 months ago by Chris Hamer


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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Hamlet, 22 Jan 2002
By 
Hakon Soreide "Gallery Hakon" (Inverness, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The play itself should need no further introduction or comment.
The Arden Shakespeare is well-known in academic circles for their auhtoritative and comprehensive annotated editions of Shakespeare's works, and for the academic reader, this edition of Hamlet offers a lot of useful information.
There is a long section covering the different printed source editions of the play, and arguments of what source is chosen to be represented in the text of the play itself and why, Shakespeare's topical allusions, and lots more.
A large portion of the preface is also dedicated to discussing Shakespeare's own source for his play, the Ur-Hamlet, and of possible other plays, before or after Hamlet, using the same story.
The text pages are covered more with notes than with the play text itself, which can be a bit impractical when trying to read only the play, but for closer readings, most of the information is practically gathered on the page, with additional references to longer notes after the play text.
Notes include source disparities, word interpretations and also all of the traditionally debated items in the play.
All in all, an excellent edition for close readings and academic work on what is one of the most fascinating, poetic and humorous plays of all time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where are the promised notes?, 11 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Hamlet (Kindle Edition)
I selected this kindle version because the product description claims it is 'annotated with
intelligence and care, a wealth of historical and cultural references and a
survey of different critical approaches to the play'.
This is probably true of paperback but the kindle edition comes with no notes at all. We need to be told this before we buy.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare, 3 Nov 2007
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Views on Hamlet, 23 Feb 2012
In these two Arden Hamlet books, Thompson and Taylor feast the reader on the authentic meat of the texts, in a format fully accessible to the modern reader; this second, companion edition provides the second course and the dessert, a delicious feast that duly celebrates this tragic masterpiece.
The second text in the Arden Shakespeare series gives us a direct look at the two other texts of Hamlet, the so-called bad quarto of 1603 and the version of the play from the First Folio of 1623. This complements the first book in this series and together these two Arden Hamlet books provide the general reader with the three extant texts of Shakespeare's masterpiece, a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand, in modernized and scholarly versions the sources for the play.
Thompson and Taylor, in this text, provide a 37 page introduction that puts these texts in their relational context to the Second Quarto text of 1604-5, showcased in the companion volume. This introduction does a great service by documenting the history of productions of the 1603 (bad) Quarto. As Thompson and Taylor inform us, this 1603 text may give us a view (however imperfect) of a version of the play as it was set on stage by Shakespeare in his day. This 1603 Hamlet uses different spellings for the names of several characters or gives them different names entirely, adds new scenes, changes the order of events (most famously by moving the "To be or not to be" soliloquy), and sheds many of the poetic flourishes of the more complete versions. In doing so, it does give a very stage-worthy version of the play, often referred to a more muscular, direct and demotic Hamlet.
The 1603 text does introduce some infelicities of language that do jar our sensibilities, indoctrinated to "purer" or more "refined" versions of the play, but this play does preserve in fairly good measure the bulk of the play as we have come to know it. Indeed, as the introduction outlines, even those daring directors who have staged this Hamlet sometimes "corrected" the jarring passages with the approved versions. Yet some productions put this version on stage, warts and all, and so provided another view of this great play, perhaps akin to what Glenn Gould did with the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic on 6 April 1962. Such a production, as with Gould's interpretation of Brahms, gives the viewer (reader) a different perspective on this well known pillar of literature, and such creative efforts help liberate our imaginations.
This Arden Hamlet ends with the magisterial version of the play from the First Folio. This is the play much as we have come to know it, as preserved by Shakespeare's friends and coworkers after his death. The great thing about this presentation of the texts by Thompson and Taylor is that they do give us the text as we have it, including the odd word or phrase that appears unwarranted or unusual, but may also often work. The detailed notes always make the connection to alternate words or phrases, usually drawn from the good quarto version of the play that editors have often selected to replace the seeming foul words.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Competent update, 1 Sep 2010
By 
Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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Depending on your point of view, Arden3's Hamlet is either a neat solution or a cop-out. Either way, their two-volume edition of the play represents a departure from the single-volume norm that has characterised The Arden Shakespeare since 1899. As with King Lear, the existence of substantially different original sources for the play means that the Hamlet editor is faced with a choice: to conflate, or not to conflate. Unlike King Lear's editor, RA Foakes, Thompson and Taylor opt against pick and mixing in favour of a multi-volume edition. This one bases its text on the 'good' quarto of 1604-5, while the other volume (essentially a supplement) presents both the 'bad' quarto and the folio alternatives, of 1601 and 1623 respectively.

Choosing the text is not the only problem confronting an editor of Hamlet. As Thompson and Taylor observe, over 400 Hamlet-related works appear every year. Simply keeping track of new publications is a virtually impossible task and wisely the editors attempt no more than to give us a brief overview of them in an Introduction that is more up-to-date and informed than groundbreaking.

The editors sound a note of frustration in observing that much modern Hamlet criticism seems focused on previous critical comment rather than on the play! However, a selection of the more rewarding new thought is presented, including Steven Goldblatt's attempt to tackle the problem of a Wittenburg-educated, Protestant prince swallowing the Ghost's claim to have come from an obviously Catholic purgatory - the existence of which place was expressly denied by the Tudor Church of England. Greenblatt identifies a longing for the certainties of the old faith, lost fifty years previously.

One of the most important ideas to emerge in recent years is that advanced by Melchiori that Q1 represents an acting version of the play and Q2 a literary one. On the perennial problem of date, this Arden thinks that best evidence points to 1600 or spring 1601. On sources, as well as the usual suspects (ie Saxo, Belleforest and Montaigne) Arden3 suggests that Plautus (generally) and Nashe (verbally) were important influences, and cites recent work by Miola and Tobin, respectively. And the author of the hypothetical Ur-Hamlet? If not by Kyd, Arden considers this enigmatic c1590 prototype a possible early draft by Shakespeare himself - an idea expressed in Peter Ackroyd's biography of 2005.

In terms of literary status, Hamlet may now trail King Lear, but its iconic power and its hold on the popular imagination remain undiminished. It is Hamlet's soliloquies that have long been considered key to the play's monumentality and appeal. These soliloquies are supposed to show a new interiority and psychological complexity - Renaissance qualities, in other words. Arden questions such assumptions. Not only had such inner subjectivity appeared in the medieval poets Langland and Chaucer, the editors claim, but Hamlet's soliloquies are meditations upon commonplace themes, and consequently less personal than those of, say, Richard III, Iago or Lear. And in any case, the editors identify an increasing exteriority in modern productions, in which Hamlet projects his thoughts as much outwards as inwards - towards the kind of intimate (even interactive!) audiences found at more authentically Elizabethan venues like The Swan or The Globe.

There are just a couple of minor gripes. Some linking commentary seems lacking in the discussion of the acting styles of Irving and Barrymore. More perlexing is the passage by Holland quoted on p94. This explains how Brannagh's eclectic adding of Q2 dialogue to F helps viewers understand Hamlet's 'vicious pun'. But the point being made is that, according to Holland, 'more of Shakespeare is not ... necessarily better'. Here, surely, more (ie Q2 added to F) certainly does seem better, in advancing our understanding!

Many may feel that Harold Jenkins' supremely comprehensive Arden2 of 1982 still has currency. But it is difficult to argue with the current editors' view that, firstly, the needs of today's student readership are very different from those of a generation ago. This Arden3 succeeds in conveying the complexity of the play and the plurality of response to it, while simultaneously ensuring accessibility to newcomers. And that secondly, the huge quantity of post-1982 criticism and performance meant that Arden2 was, in some ways at least, badly in need of an update. Thompson and Taylor are worthy enough successors to Jenkins. But if the Hamlet industry continues to grow exponentially, they must themselves expect to be superseded by Arden4 in around 2020!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Introduction wasn't really what I'd wanted, 28 Aug 2009
I'd been waiting for this edition of Hamlet for years and at the time was quite bummed out that it didn't come out in time for the dissertation I was writing at university on Hamlet. I decided to settle for two other versions: The Arden second edition Hamlet and the Cambridge University Hamlet, which both had really insightful introductions and helped a lot with my research for my dissertation (It was titled "Why does Hamlet Delay?".)

When this version came out I was chuffed. I read the play right through, as I normally do scribbling notes in the margins, and was impressed with the commentary on the text. The choice of particular words from Folio and Quarto versions was really intriguing and well researched too.

The drawback for me came when I then went back to check out the introduction. I was expecting some kind of Bradley-like dissection of the characters when in fact it was more of a stage history of the play. How different actors and directors have tackled difficult aspects of character, staging and so on. The editors make a fair point about this though when they say that in fact this play has already had a fair amount of critical attention (more then any other in the world, I think) and they stick an apology on right at the end for this saying that if they did come up with another theory of Hamlet it would almost certainly be wrong. So in this respect this third edition is quite different to the other Arden third editions that have come out over the past few years. You miss out on some of that definitive Arden Character Analysis that is so well respected and instead you get a much broader view of the play (in my opinion not so helpful to students and anyone who wants to get some real meat and potatoes criticism).

However, on reflection I really came to enjoy this version, but more for leisurely rather than academic reading. The introduction talks a lot about the reception of the play and you get an angle on it that is not as ofter talked about, a historical one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No character list, 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Hamlet (Kindle Edition)
This Kindle edition doesn't feature a list of the characters at the start as you'd expect. Better value to buy the complete Shakespeare available on Kindle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Jun 2011
By 
Ms. J. Rees "shopaholic" (glasgow) - See all my reviews
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Great edition of Hamlet with easy to use footnotes and an elaborate introduction to Shakespeare and Hamlet which provides a general background understanding of the play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet, 26 Jan 2010
By 
J. D. C. Campbell "JDCC" (Ayr, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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A must for anyone genuinely interested in the works of Shakespeare. Clear text, unmissable notes and background.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the Best Edition of Hamlet, 29 Dec 2005
By 
Mr. J. Featherstone "jonthegreat72" (Tonbridge, England) - See all my reviews
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To one of the greatest plays ever written, this brings, if not a fresh look, certainly a more detailed examination of the text, bringing it to life in a way in a way that many do not think is possible of Shakespeare. This edition not only has a helpful introductory preface, but also an in depth introduction for anyone who is more than just a casual reader. As well as the page by page notes, students will also particularly find the Longer Notes indispensable.
In short, probably the best edition of Hamlet you can buy.
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