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VINE VOICEon 21 August 2008
We might expect an academic who has made her name as a feminist critic to find something interesting to say about 'As You Like It'. Juliet Dusinberre doesn't disappoint. Although its aspects of performance history can be a little wearisome, her Introduction is richly rewarding. Not surprisingly, she makes much of the play's cross-dressing and role-playing (boy playing woman playing man etc.). She finds questions of gender much more ambiguous and complex than they first appear and presents an account of a play in which liberating modes of behaviour can be adopted as easily as costumes can be donned. It is a play which 'redefines gender'.

Equally subversive, she thinks, are the play's allusions to Robin Hood. Duke Senior's comradely courtiers are partners rather than subjects, and his court more communal than hierarchic. Together with the animal welfare concerns expressed in the play, the Duke's vegetarian tendencies (which echo the real-life courtier John Harington's) and Orlando's 'challenge to primogeniture' (it is he, after all, who inherits a dukedom), the 'alternative', revolutionary elements of AYL are neatly drawn attention to.

There are some inspired insights. Touchstone's 'dreadful joke', as Dusinberre calls it (about pancakes in 1.2), makes sense if the court performance at Richmond Palace took place on the Shrove Tuesday of 1599, as she thinks highly likely. She further suggests that some of the play's exotic features (like the lion in 3.2.) were matched by the elaborate wood carvings in Richmond's outer court, while Rosalind's reference to Troilus not dying for love might have been accompanied by a gesture to the tapestry depicting Troy hanging in Richmond's Great Hall where plays were performed. In essence, therefore, she sees the palace as the 'perfect ambience' for the play, with its sense of rural retreat and with deer roaming outside its west wall.

But Dusinberre is careful to present the Forest of Arden as more than just a fairy-tale rural retreat. It is a place that represents the challenge of the unfamiliar and of harsh political exile. It is also a place which reflects the real, contemporary world of displacement brought about by land enclosure and political instability (in the year of Essex's fateful Irish campaign).

The Introduction is also radical and illuminating in its discussion of Elizabethan play reading. Dusinberre argues that AYL is particularly rewarding as a text to be read at leisure and that its wordplay is often better appreciated on the page than on the stage. She argues that puns such as Touchstone's 'faining/feigning' 'could only be appreciated by readers'. Dusinberre examines a recent school of thought (led by Lukas Erne) inclining to the view that not only did the printed word add an extra witty dimension, but that Shakespeare actively took readers into account when writing plays.

The comprehensively researched Commentary is equally impressive. It bears testimony to the rich heritage of Shakespearean scholarship which has unearthed a staggering amount of detail about the halcyon period of English drama, 1590-1610. This edition will probably allow for as full an appreciation of the play as is currently possible.
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on 18 May 2015
I am studying this play for A2 English Literature and definitely reccomend this Oxford School Shakespeare edition. This is because of the fact that the text is clearly set out, and it also includes modern English references and annotations at the side to help with understanding. (This is very convenient) Furthermore, there are also some small diagrams and full page photographs of the play in action which I find quite beneficial in expressing the mood and tone of the play. Although it is a slightly more expensive edition than others such as the Wordsworth Classics, it is a very well presented edition with good space for annotations, and I am thoroughly happy that I chose to purchase this one.
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on 1 September 2017
Macbeth is a fantastic example of Shakespearean literature it has everything: supernatural forces at work, battles, murder and revenge. The characters are outstanding. This particular edition of the play has an in-depth introductory section as well as detailed notes alongside the text making it far easier to decipher meaning for those studying it at exam level. This is really an excellent edition.
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on 5 July 2013
I purchased this I think 2 years back.
I've just had a look at the website now: the cover has not changed - it still implies a book worth (£2) whereas what I received was the other, later £1 variety Popular Penguin Classic book edition. Considering I paid considerably more than £1 for the book at the time, I still feel slightly cheated out of the whole experience.
There now appears to be a smaller picture which shows what I received, which at least is an improvement but, surely - these are 2 different books/editions?

Why the fuss? I'm a great fan of the Penguin Classics and for sheer value for money would highly recommend them.
However different editions can make a difference: a cheaper edition may not have an introduction, or have one as good as a slightly more expensive edition. The quality of the paper/printing may not be as good. This may not matter much to some people but in this case: (this is Shakespeare text after all!) a good intro, or presentation of the text can enhance/help in one's reading of the contents. It can make or break one's love for Shakespeare!
I was willing to take a risk in seeing what the weightier-looking book 'in green' had to offer - so imagine my disappointment when I received the cheaper version instead.

Anyway - presentation aside, the story itself is fine and worth much more a read or two...
It's a 'quieter', more contemplative Shakespeare play (say, compared to Midsummer Night's Dream) but the appreciation grows the more it's read (preferably out loud). A deeper 'Pastoral' in that respect. It has probably one of the best developed/emotionally intelligent Shakespeare females you'll come across, in Rosalind) and it contains some of THE most famous song-like speeches that we know, so it may not initially make as much an impact as the other Shakespeare comedies but grab a guitar and SING this around the camp fire a few times and it'll soon become clear why it could become a favourite.
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on 13 December 2015
This was bought for a grandson who is studying Macbeth as a GCSE text. He's reading it by himself and finds, as I planned, that the explanatory notes are clear and helpful so that he is able to understand enjoy the play in a way that I was never able to do when I first read the play as a teenager.

Longman is still an excellent publisher of Shakespeare for young people, as it was when I was teaching in the 80s and 90s, and the delivery of the book to his address was very quick. This was a very satisfactory purchase.
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on 1 February 2017
Not as described by other reviewers. It was stated that this book had the Shakespeare text on one side with a plain English explanation on the other. This is just purely the Shakespeare original. Whether earlier publications did demystify the text I can't say. But this was a waste of money when the pure text is available for free on the internet. It will probably cost more to return than keep. Very disappointed
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on 19 May 2015
This book includes the story of Macbeth and on the bottom of each page is translated into modern language which has helped me understand the play a hell of a lot more than I would've. It's great for anyone studying the play at University!
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on 9 August 2017
Will take me time to get through this but am determined to - bought it by mistake as I've been collecting a lot of the Shakespeare for Children books for my eldest Grandson
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on 23 September 2010
This book is priceless to anyone going to see a Shakespeare performance for the first time or for those that are studying Shakespeare at school.

I bought tickets to see 'As You Like It' and having never been to see a Shakespeare performance thought that I might get a bit lost in the dialogue between the characters. Just before going to see the play I read the first section of the book that explains about the characters and the plot. I still got lost in the dialogue slightly but didn't struggle half as much as I would have if I hadn't read this first. I couldn't wait to get home to read the actual play itself!
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on 23 August 2017
Really big print and ideal for students to write notes around. I have bought several copies of Macbeth but this is by far the best in terms of writing notes around it
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