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Richard III by Stephen Orgel,A. R. Braunmuller,William Shakespeare

  • Author: Stephen Orgel,A. R. Braunmuller,William Shakespeare
  • Book title: Richard III
  • Category: Literature & Fiction
  • Subcategory: History & Criticism
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; English Language edition (August 2000)
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 0140714839
  • ISBN13: 978-0140714838
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Votes: 651
  • Other formats: lit txt lrf docx
The acclaimed Pelican Shakespeare series edition of Richard III edited by A. R. Braunmuller and Stephen Orgel. Coming to PBS in a Great Performances production starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Dame Judi Dench in December 2016.    The legendary Pelican Shakespeare series features authoritative and meticulously researched texts paired with scholarship by renowned Shakespeareans. Each book includes an essay on the theatrical world of Shakespeare’s time, an introduction to the individual play, and a detailed note on the text used. Updated by general editors Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, these easy-to-read editions incorporate over thirty years of Shakespeare scholarship undertaken since the original series, edited by Alfred Harbage, appeared between 1956 and 1967. With definitive texts and illuminating essays, the Pelican Shakespeare will remain a valued resource for students, teachers, and theater professionals for many years to come.   For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.  

7 Reviews
Tekasa
I want to preface this by saying while I'm not qualified to evaluate the scholarship behind the notes and essays on the plays in this edition because I don't have any sort of background that would allow me to do so, to me it seems to be a highly useful edition. This is something I bought as a gift for myself, not for part of a class, because while I enjoy reading Shakespeare's plays, neither the digital edition nor the previous print edition I owned had much in the way of notes that explained differences in word connotations and denotations (meanings for somethings have shifted or mutated a bit over time) or cultural references that audiences in his day would have understood but are more obscure now. This edition has explanatory notes galore, and I feel like it has improved my enjoyment of reading these plays tremendously and it's like adding flesh onto a skeleton how different they look to me when I'm reading from this edition. I have found this edition is also very helpful to understand the "slang" of the day. I grew up in the '80's, right? So, I get "rad" and what it means, but there's a possibility someone who grew up 30 years later would have to google it. So I would say it's definitely a thing of value that has improved my understanding of this work. There is also a bit of an overview of the relevant history for the time period Shakespeare was writing at the beginning of this edition that I found helpful as well.

I bought my copy used, and it came in great shape. So just from the perspective of a casual reader who enjoys great literature, I found this edition to be very helpful in enhancing my enjoyment and understanding of these plays and can definitely recommend it from that standpoint.
Puchock
There are many editions of Shakespeare's works. What makes this particular one stand out is the range of critical offerings appending his writings. The essays and notes in this edition (based on the celebrated Oxford edition) help us understand Shakespeare not as some creative mastermind who stepped out of a void but as a commercial playwright in Renaissance England who constantly engaged with the literary and historical writings popular in his day. Though he certainly valued his craft, he treated his plays not as ossified works of art but as scripts for potentially riveting commercial productions that would bring profit to his employers and thus willingly engaged in collaboration with other company members, including other playwrights, to help make his plays as usable as possible. What may work for publication would not necessarily do for a theatrical performance so scripts had to be trimmed or re-written to fit the needs of the audience. Only when we understand that can we finally move past pointless debates about whether there exists a "master text" for King Lear and other plays, how he achieved his literary revolution, why some plays are not as consistently brilliant as others or whether he (a country schoolboy) truly wrote all of the plays that bear his name, as opposed to someone "more educated and wordly" like Edward de Vere or Francis Bacon. He wrote not with the pomp and self-importance attributed to him by contemporary bardolators, but as an extremely talented company playwright and poet who was constantly revising and rewriting his work to meet the needs of a performance, taking inspiration from those popular writings he could lay his hands on to guarantee maximum popularity. All at a time when theater became a key source of entertainment for a wide cross-section of post-feudal English society. Greenblatt's general introduction and the introductory essays in this volume help us understand this particular historical moment when Shakespeare arose, how that moment defined him and his plays, and how his plays traveled beyond that moment to become the most influential writings in the English language. This is a volume that takes what I feel to be a truly historical approach to Shakespeare that ties him down in order to truly grasp what made him so great and transcendent. As James Joyce once said, "in the particular lies the universal", and only by looking at Shakespeare as he was do the editors present us with why he truly became "not just of an age but for all time."
Debeme
It is a shame that Oxford couldn't be bothered to make sure that the Kindle version is formatted properly. The line numbering frequently creates a gap in the text in the middle of speeches. This shouldn't happen, especially when you pay as much of the Kindle e-text as you do for a hardcopy.
Hadadel
Let's get the simple stuff out first: this is a beautiful book; the introductions are smart and lively; all the plays are by Shakespeare. Based on these alone, how can I rate it only four stars and not five? I'd venture to say that this is all the Shakespeare most people will need and then some. And it's 30% less than the Riverside, so I heartily recommend buying it.

So now for the minor quibbling. When Riverside updated its collected Chaucer in the 1990s, it produced a book that looks very much like this Norton Shakespeare. It had all new introductions and notes, a cleaned up text, more pictures, and was actually about twice as large as the previous standard Chaucer (which was just Riverside's own earlier edition). But the Riverside Chaucer tracks recent Chaucer scholarship closely, in notes and not just the introductions. Someone writing about Chaucer could start their research with that text and follow its very credible recommendations for further reading. That element is much weaker in the Norton Shakespeare, which tackles general themes well but doesn't do the same close work of tying in Shakespeare criticism. Yes, this is a nitpicky point, but for a text that's clearly being positioned to take over the market, I had hoped it would do a little more to keep the teaching and research strands more fully in conversation.

This is still the one-volume Shakespeare I would buy for myself, now. If you want even less apparatus, try the Oxford Shakespeare (same texts of the plays, $26). If you need more background any one play, I like the Arden editions of individual plays.
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