Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb short notes add to the reading experience, 19 Jan 2009
This review is from: Hamlet (The RSC Shakespeare) (Paperback)
This play is extracted from Bate's complete RSC Shakespeare, with some additional material. The short notes are by far the most important, and these are also in the "complete" Shakespeare. If all you want is to 'read all the plays with minimum pain' then, on this evidence, the RSC Complete Shakespeare should be considered. If you want a bit more background with your Hamlet, but not technical overkill, then get this.

Many versions of Hamlet are rather formidable for the general reader. My "Arden playgoers edition" has 159 pages of introduction, 150 pages of appended long notes, and the 'short notes' take up more space than the actual text of the play! Useful, no doubt, for PhD students specialising in the technicalities and alternative versions of Hamlet, but this general reader will not be reading the Arden introduction again any time soon! ('Playgoers' version indeed!)

Anyway, back to this edition, edited by Jonathan Bate. It has a superb 20 page introduction (that I will be re-reading) and some nice short articles at the back of the book. But it has no 'long notes' at the back. All the (very short) notes are on the page you are reading, leading to a much better reading experience.

The very short notes never disrupt the reading, and only ever enhance it. Any archaic words are translated, and complicated phrases are *briefly* re-phrased for 'adequate' understanding. These notes are a remarkable exercise in concise explanation. Jonathan Bate has a great reputation as an approachable Shakespeare scholar, and these notes prove that this is deserved.
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