on 5 October 2008
This was the first play that, when I was required to read it for A-level English, really got me excited about Shakespeare. It has genuinely laugh out loud moments (no, I wouldn't have believed it either), then some of the most terrifying, moving speeches in the whole canon.
Every character is interesting, from the repressed and cruel manipulator Angelo, to Isabella, a kind of anti-heroine, who discovers power in a patriarchal society through an exaggerated (and sometimes eroticised) purity. After Isabella's brother Claudio is unfairly sentanced to death for impregnating a woman before marriage, Angelo tries to use his power over her brother's fate to convince Isabella to have sex with him. But both he and Claudio have underestimated the novice nun's seemingly inhuman zealousness. As Claudio begs for his life in prison, Isabella rebuffs him with the famous line: "more than our brother is our chastity".
It is also a good introduction if you have previously struggled with the bard - not as confusing as some of the comedies, or as unremittingly hard-going as the tragedies can seem when one is not used to translating the language.
And just a last note on this (Cambridge) edition - it's excellent. The introduction and notes are thorough and enlightening - but at the same time, not every variation of langauge in the different quartos is analysed in depth. While this must be vital for scholors at a higher level, to the everyday reader it can have a somewhat swamping effect.
on 12 October 2011
The book does waste a lot of space giving one unnecessary background information which isn't essential for the course but interesting nonetheless. However the footnotes it provides do cover a lot of unknown words with more than one interpretation for extra help. Unfortunately the footnotes seem to be supplied by someone prudish, for a lot of the sexual undertones of the speech is completely overlooked and means that you can miss out on a lot of hidden meanings unless you have someone who is well-acquainted with the play to talk you through it.
All in all, a good help to someone studying the play for English Literature at AS/A2 level.
on 1 November 2013
No option for not recieved, so had to choose 1 star we hate it!!
We did pay a fair amount of money for this and all the other books we ordered for my son's a levels, and have been let down by
3 / 4 of them !! ( unusable condition, completely wrong book) & now this one still not turned up!!!!
So can we have another copy dispatched asap or a refund & find it elsewhere please..?!