Hamlet (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 25 Jan 2007
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Hamlet with Anton Lesser in the title role and supported by Edward de Souza, Susan Engel, Emma Fielding and Heathcote Williams. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"It's hard to see how the New Folger Library's section on Shakespeare's language could be much better. An exceptionally good choice for an introductory text".-- The Shakespeare Newsletter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
I agonised over what edition to pick because I wanted something 'idiot proof', with notes, explanations and summaries so that I could actually understand what I was reading. I eventually settled on the RSC edition and I'm really glad that I did. It's very well laid out, without being specifically targeted at A Level students (which for some reason I tend to find offputting).
- It has a great overall introduction which goes into some detail about the various versions of the play;
- List of characters;
- The play itself has footnotes throughout;
- Summary for each scene
- Chapter about Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre
- History of the many 'Hamlets' who played the lead character over the centuries;
- Q&A with major theatre directors.
I thought I'd struggle with the play, but I actually found myself not needing to read all the footnotes - although it was great to know that they were there.
One small tip: keep some post-it notes handy so that you can easily flick back and forth to the characters list, scene summary and main body of the play.
I'll definitely buy an RSC edition of a Shakespeare play again - maybe the next one will be Macbeth!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To be or not .... erm, (?) ... Prompt ! This is the big one dudes. Plays should be seen and heard, preferably being performed on a stage. Read morePublished 17 days ago by MrGyges
Seriously if you are studying Hamlet for A-Levels this book helps you understand Shakespeare a lot. A play like Hamlet can be a daunting read but the Arden shakespeares useful... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Skittles
So I ended up buying the paperback. Misleading to say the leastPublished 2 months ago by Sergio Pisanu