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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 December 2010
We all know this is a great Shakespearean play, the only question to answer is: how is the formatting on the Kindle edition?

In this example it's done sufficiently and the play reads as it should. The stage directions are included in full, and are also very clear. I'm very pleased with my free download.
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on 23 October 2013
These Oxford editions of Shakespeare's plays in my opinion have one good point and one bad point. On the positive side, the explanatory notes are very good, and they are placed at the foot of each page for easy reference. On the negative side, I find the introductions to be over-academic for the general reader. For example, I'm not convinced that we need to know what Freud, Jung and Wittgenstein said about dreams in order to enjoy, appreciate and understand this play. The five stars I am giving are for Shakespeare: I would give Oxford four.

As for this wonderful play itself, I obviously cannot come up with anything new to say that has not already been said. But I can summarise what I think are the main points that have been made by various commentators.

Shakespeare cleverly weaves together three separate sets of characters whose paths cross: the aristocrats, the workers and the fairies. He also shows us two distinct but overlapping worlds: the normal world of the city and the magical world represented by the fairies, the wood, the moon, dreams, confusion, and reality turned upside-down. (Apparently in Shakespeare's time "wood" could also mean "mad".)

A central theme of the play is summed up in the famous line: "The course of true love never did run smooth." There is the conflict between marriage for love and marriage according to the wishes of parents. But there is also the fickleness of lovers themselves.

Another theme involves the conflict and confusion, including the disruption of nature, which arises from the quarrels of both the fairy king and queen and of the humans. These conflicts and confusions are resolved in the end, with harmony being achieved:

"Jack shall have Jill,
Naught shall go ill,
The man shall have his mare again,
And all shall be well."

For me, the only problem with the play is that the "mechanicals" (workers), although funny, are treated as simple folk in a rather patronising and condescending way. Similarly, in "Julius Caesar", Shakespeare portrays the Roman masses as a fickle mob, easily swayed by demagogues.

But overall this is a marvellous play which takes us into a magical world, and which contains some memorable lines and some beautiful poetry.

Phil Webster.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2014
This is another excellent edition in this Oxford single-text series. The play itself is accompanied by copious on-page notes which push beyond mere linguistic gloss, and the introduction is admirably full. Holland starts with dream theory to contextualise the play but then ranges back through the three realms, Bottom's encounter with a form of divinity, and the play within a play.

Especially impressive is the range of bibliography absorbed and offered here, and the elucidation of intertextual references, from Ovid and Apuleius via Chaucer and sixteenth century texts.

All of this series has a robust sewn binding and thick pages making it perfect for academic study.
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on 8 August 2009
The book contains everything you need when putting on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, there is a small glossary at the back for Shakespearian words no longer used and longer explanations about the significance of beards if needed

For £2 you can't fault it. :)
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on 8 July 2016
Charming play, especially when seen in an open-air theatre, though minus hooting geese, crying babies, barking dogs, and growling aircraft. Like crepe suzette, needs to be enjoyed at the absolutely right moment.
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on 3 December 2015
I bought these to supplement the school ones as we didn't have enough tot go round. The paper isn't the best of quality and the print is quite small. Additionally it is printed on both sides of the page. It would be okay for self study but not really suitable for a class of younger students (year 8)
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on 23 May 2003
There's nothing that you can write about "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that could hope to convey the glory, the comedy and the intelligence of the play.
What you can hope to convey in this kind of a review is that this edition is the only one worth buying for serious study, with an excellent introduction.
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on 23 April 2012
Brilliant! I wanted an edition with 'fairly' detailed notes and this edition provided it. Notes are written on the same page as the text for ease of reference. Good intro too. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 29 January 2011
Most editors are well disposed towards the plays they are asked to edit and Peter Holland is no exception - he tells us that there was no other title he'd have chosen in preference. Not everyone would agree with him about the play's merits, however. His undergraduate friend considered it 'a pappy play', and there have been plenty of other disparaging comments across the centuries. (Famously, Pepys described Dream as 'the most insipid ridiculous play', while for Malone it was unbelievably thin and trite.) After reading this exemplary edition, which reveals much of its full complexity, Dream should not be mistaken for such simple and unsubstantial fare again.

Holland begins with a succinct account of modern dream theories, before tackling Classical, medieval and Renaissance views. Particularly interesting is his discussion of treatments of dream in the literature of Shakespeare's contemporaries, where Robert Greene's dismissive stance approximates to that of the rational (but limited) Theseus, while Thomas Lodge's more credulous acceptance of dreams and their mystery aligns him more closely with Hippolyta.

The Introduction is astute as well as comprehensive. It observes that doubling the roles of Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania has become routine since the 60s, but is critical of those who see this revival of doubling primarily as a solution to financial or pragmatic problems, insisting that it originally had an 'interpretative' function. Holland sees the Elizabethan practice of doubling as a structural device, where 'the audience's recognition of an actor was used to underline the interconnectedness of a series of roles he performed in a play.'

Although I'm no historian of critical thought, it seems to me at least that Holland anticipates some of the more influential work of recent scholars. Louis Montrose's study of the Elizabethan theatre's subversion of patriarchal values is hinted at in this edition's Commentary. (See the note on Bottom's apparently innocent use/misuse of the word 'deflowered', p247n, for example.) Equally praiseworthy are the references made to those filmed versions of Dream, like Reinhardt's (1935), that might be considered too dated for extensive, post-Peter Brook discussion.

Arden's forthcoming Dream will have a difficult job surpassing its Oxford competitor, first published in 1994. It's just a shame that in the intervening 17 years OUP haven't managed to reference page numbers mentioned in at least three sections of the book: Introduction, Editorial Procedures and Commentary. 'See p000' might suffice at proof stage, but it really isn't good enough so many years on. Peter Holland's informed and constantly illuminating edition deserves better.
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on 19 February 2014
The Arden Shakespeare is the BEST and this one is no different.

Packed with information, a definitive text and hugely useful notes - this edition of the Dream is a 'must have' for anyone interested in the theater and this most magical of Shakespeare's plays.
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