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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (1623)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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31,85117084 (4.59)439
Presents the works of William Shakespeare, along with an analysis of the nature and authority of the early documents, a list of the canon and chronological order of composition, an essay on Shakespeare's language, and a bibliography.
  1. 101
    Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Works of Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov (shurikt)
    shurikt: What would a SF writer know about Shakespeare? A lot, apparently. This is a great book to refresh your memory before the occasional Shakespeare in the Park -- if you don't want to read the play again.
  2. 30
    The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Volume II: The Literature of Renaissance England by John Hollander (MissBrangwen)
  3. 42
    Shakespeare and Co.: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher and the Other Players in His Story by Stanley Wells (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Editor and Shakespeare Scholar - Wells
  4. 12
    Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell (kraaivrouw)
  5. 58
    A Dictionary of the English Language: An Anthology (Penguin Classics) by Samuel Johnson (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: He refers to all sorts of authors, but most frequently Shakespeare.
  6. 711
    Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Pattty)
    Pattty: Si te gustó Hamlet seguro te gustará Macbeth, que es una historia buena y mucho más "macabra"

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What an exquisite edition of one of the greatest works in the Western canon. Armed with an authoritative editorial team, Professor Jonathan Bate has reworked all of Shakespeare's plays, as well as his poems. The footnotes are extensive and cover all meanings of words (including the more salacious ones that many school texts leave out), while also providing informative historical and contextual information.

This edition seeks to give us every word attributed to Shakespeare (although, as it points out at length, we can't really know what he wrote: all of our current versions come from a variety of sources typeset in his later years, and primarily from the First Folio printed after his death. Any work of the Bard's is distorted in some way). With appendices and footnotes, notable textual errors or areas of debate are highlighted.

There is so much to love here. Epic tragedies - Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear - joined by their lesser, but poetically affecting counterparts like Othello, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare plays with and shuffles around comic tropes in his wide variety of comedies: peaks include The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.

In his more subdued romances, Shakespeare often seems reduced to more typical characters yet imbues than with layer upon layer of subtlety: Measure for Measure and The Winter's Tale are particularly splendid examples. Some of the tragedies and comedies aren't as startling, and some are challenging - such as his part-satire Troilus and Cressida - but every work brims with characters whose opinions, beliefs and motives are individual, and not simply echoing those of an author. Beyond these plays lies a staggering cycle of love poems in The Sonnets, as well as his other various poetry which always makes fascinating, lyrical reading.

Capping all this is Shakespeare's incredible cycle of English history, which details the country's fate from 1199 to 1533, through the stories of the English monarchs: their battles, their loves, their lives and the effect their squabbles have over countless citizens. The cycle begins with the somewhat talky King John (far from my favourite work, but well presented in the BBC Complete Works cycle) and ends with the autumnal King Henry VIII. In between are eight plays (two tetraologies) which encompass the Wars of the Roses, and they are astonishing. From the private thoughts of the monarch to the most unimportant peasant, Shakespeare captures an age.

The introductions on each play detail cultural successes over the centuries, as well as basic historical information. I've seen people suggest other aspects that could improve this - such as a suggestion of ways to double parts (this is defined as the "actor's edition"). Certainly, I can accept that, but as it stands this is already beyond a 5-star piece of work. A place of honour on my shelf, that's for sure. ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 21, 2024 |
I got this in a box of "junk" at a swap meet in San Diego around 1988. I had one of those readings done on objects...that reading indicated this book went from a book store in England to a wealthy home library, then across the pond to the USA, owned by an old maid in New England and somehow made it's way to San Diego. There is also a heavy indication of Ships and rough seas???

My copy is leather embossed, the cover is in tough shape, and not getting any better. I use this mostly as reference material as the copy is still perfect and easy to read.

Great Book 2 gazillion Stars ( )
  AlphaSierra1963 | Jan 6, 2024 |
A great volume to have all of Shakespeare's plays (or almost all) in one place on the bookshelf, I found that the older I got, the more I appreciated reading each play in its own volume, or in a volume of three or four plays. The print is tiny in two column format.
  MrsLee | Nov 26, 2023 |
Well, there’s no use—no good, I mean—trying to be like one of those awful people who read all the intentionally ruined books about Shakespeare, written out of a desire to hide in baroque manor houses and to neither be understood nor to understand: such being the calling of the intellectual, to be holy, to be set apart, and what better way than not to speak the speech of men. But the thing itself, aside from the uses the horse is put to, is rather good. And plenty of popular books do draw on Shakespeare and use his plots and other gifts—were I only to name one or two of the most obvious, bitches would moan with the dying, and bite their wrists, so that the red blood would flow. I don’t know. Obviously Shakespeare is the best-received and actually too I think the best and most free-thinking writer of his day, though of course sometimes there are the inevitable marks of, I hesitate to say inaccuracy, since I am no historicist, but there are the marks of popular delusion, ignorance, and viciousness: the vipers of the common brute and bully, that the old soul, if you like, the thrice-born—what’s the opposite of ‘once-born’?—must deal with. As grey as later more German centuries would be, sometimes things were not really a certain way because Shakespeare said so, and obviously before he got to have his say he had to look a certain way, you know. But I do look forward to polishing off the last seven plays and the poetry. When I read the Bard, the titles of books dance in my head, and the epigraph pages of books either wonderful, or fantastic, or impossible to write. Of course, there’s a reason why people use Hallmark or whatever instead of Shakespeare quotes when somebody gets married, because aside from the 5,000 pages or whatever of pre-modern English, there’s the issue that every line almost is beautiful in its sound, but every other line deals with battles or poison or planning suicide and such, so you know. “Why is uncle goosecap implying that I should kill myself on my birthday”?

But if you think you can, take a few years and read the whole thing; it’s worth doing it that’s your sort of thing.

…. As I write this, I’m finishing up the last tragedy, the Athens Tim one—a bad play, at least in so far as what people would make of it, you know, but a lot of things are like that; I guess I buy the character, but people would remember their own imagined passive-aggressive rants about friends and money and assume that two and two don’t need to make four in their own life because they readin’ da Bard, you know: people are so terrible because it’s like if you let the girl who was supposed to play Tiger Lilly but wasn’t white enough play an Athens Tim character, people would cry for blood and prison, and still believe in lack, naturally, but okay, break’s over—but yeah so then I’ve got about a thousand (few-words-each) pages, less than 20%, now, even, and just five more plays, the ‘romances’, and the ‘poetry’, right. And then I’ll have read Homer (in English, naturally), Jane Austen (minus ‘the teenage writings’), and Shakespeare—and then, you know, I’d still like the read Dickens and the Brontes, and read internationally more, and more like ordinary middlebrow lit, and a few more classics eventually, sure, and lots of common stuff: but I feel like I’ve read enough where I no longer have to prove myself by reading the biggest names anymore, since I’ve read a handful of big names extensively and others more occasionally, and like I knew I wasn’t planning on reading every Joseph Conrad, At All Costs, and then I read Heart of Darkness & Other Stories and it’s like, Wow, what a wordy dick, you know….

And even more, now: it’s a relief to get closer to a point where I could take a long break, even in principles, from a certain sort of thing, eventually, I mean.

…. Also: the really conformist critic tries to narrow it to the tragedies, although those are certainly worthy, containing both Romeo & Juliet, and Hamlet, and others: but the comedies are great, too; I feel like I’ve already forgotten what little I understood of Love’s Labour Lost, but it makes a beautiful duet with Two Gentlemen of Verona, and the classic mask thing in Measure for Measure was excellent; the common stuff movies that are made in similar comedic tones should have the guts to throw out Measure for Measure instead of pretending Hamlet, though they never do, you know—the narrowing critic is the key…. I wish I remember As You Like It and I think I’ll have to see a movie version; of course, the Venice Jew play is terribly racist, and they are in general rather elitist in the several ways, although rather less so, I think, than was common then, or indeed later.

…. And when I was reading the old tale of England’s King Henry VI, I was Henry VI; surely some charm crossed my path, before all that ended, in those days when I was that Good Man, so turned by harm’s negation, even to the exclusion.

…. Although it is true that I read it just as an overview, and indeed sometimes read and only got a vague sense of the plot—and sometimes didn’t care much about whoever it was.

…. I have to say in the light of history, (although lit isn’t the most unpopular subject, though men strive to make it such, who command it), that I find it strange that in most of our schools education is a service being provided to the students, one would think, though they have no control over what they study or how. It’s as though the students were there to serve—yes, to serve the dead!

That being said, there’s a wonderful subjectivity in Shakespeare—even more so than in Plato. One character speaks second, and people might walk away thinking that they’ve heard “Shakespeare”, but then before them there was another character, who also spoke, who believed another way. “They can’t both be right,” howls the theologian.

…. (The king guy is swearing he’ll kill everybody because he thinks his wife is cheating even though she’s not)
(Mabel from “Gravity Falls”) He talks with a crazy voice!


…. “The art itself is Nature”
And surely Nature encompasses all the arts of men.

…. There are some fun Shakespeare comedies/romances like Midsummer’s Night and Tempest, but people tend to look to the high culture for serious shit, you know; from our perspective it’s kinda a mixed form, with the poetry purists neglecting it or at least not pushing it as hard, (and they do try to push, even as they push it far from the byways of ordinary men), whereas for entertainment in general, things turn over rather quicker than all that—Shakie, looming larger in isolation, is the biggest single author of the past these days, although he might not be bigger than Regency Jane and Victorian Charles put together, for what it’s worth…. For a magic-in-literature it can be great—‘High Magic’s Aid’, or, ‘The Tempest’, children?—but to a certain audience it doesn’t scream ‘fun’, you know. Which is obvs what it was written for, at the end of the day—that piece, especially.

…. This is a truism of the lit crits, but maybe it needs to be said again: the Victorians didn’t really love Shakespeare as much as they convinced themselves they did, you know.

…. Although in a lot of the poetry, the historical atmosphere becomes a lot more obvious— white/purity (and the slaves groan) vs ‘dark’ good-time-girl (and the slaves GROAN), you know.

O desire BLACK
All good you lack
The lips you smack
Thou shall I ne’er fack

You know; it’s like—I don’t know what it’s about rightly, but it isn’t about rape. It’s about drinking with your male friends in the back of the Poetry Club, snobbish even when you’re tipsy, you know.

(And what could be better than that!)

…. I mean, it is possible to desire sex in so disorderly a way that you forget all about the issue of the girl’s consent, but there’s a lot more to sex than that, and a lot more to the bad thing than just sex—but the Lucrece poem just thinks sex is the bad, bad thing. And there’s no sense in it of a violated Will—at all…. It’s very inbred: inbred aristocracy. I suppose if we can take them both as a piece, the plays are much better than the poetry.

…. It is curious to know, that these manor house men, with their self-praise and their expectations for others, did not always have good relationships with others or fine things—no, just servants, and twice-worn-out things. And, yes, dependents, and a tradition to which they themselves were dependent. Barren rhyme, and word’s annoy, and for the child no slight-weight assumption.

…. Bro: even ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ is better than the sonnets.

The sonnets are like, Billy’s gifts to parodists, you know.

…. But it is interesting, how even the critic, the critical man, has in his opinion drifted from seeing the sonnets/poetry as the best, towards the tragedies—the ‘better’ part of the scandalous trash, you know, the plays. The future critic will probably look with widest smiles on the middlebrow lit of today, you know. I mean, the only way to write something today and have it be immediately highbrow is to have it be ludicrously imitative, you know—the highbrow is for the dead. Really you have to be middlebrow to be creative, really. And the bottom feeders fill up, at least; puritans talk about Jane Austen mythologists as though they were mafiosi, you know.

…. If you read school-lit, take a few years and read the whole thing, but don’t believe that it didn’t happen during the Atlantic slave trade because of me, you know.

And don’t think that the only lit is pure-mental-lit: the only proper thing, sharpening the knives of the mind, the swords of the animating soul, because for this reason did man come forth—to fight wars for his mind’s sake, right….

And it’s certainly not that it wasn’t written by a white man, because certainly it was, but I think a lot of the youth’s Fee Fi Fo Fum I smell the blood of an Englishman thing often has to do with just not seeing the value or benefit in their own lives, when they don’t feel like it was written for them, and what was, is considered little fae crap, you know—and because it takes a lot of courage, more than the average person has, to stand up and say, I shouldn’t have to read crap I don’t like and pretend I talk about things I don’t like in a way I don’t talk—you know, the shame, the SHAME, that would be associated with that—they hide it behind fee fi fo fum, right. And, yeah, he also thought that Black girls were ugly because they looked like slaves. Well, Black girls, and possibly Italians, you know—it was a different world.

And I don’t know how you argue, ‘Don’t shame the children’, but maybe, ah, Don’t fucking do it. “Ah, my good man. But then shall we not be intellectuals. We shall go on shaming the children. It is our way.”

(end) But now I have an idea what Shakespeare I want to have another look at. Plays, more than three; wordings, two; and indeed for each trio, adaptions doubled perhaps more than once, as the decades speak more than once.

…. (end/final) Incidentally, I do think that more than 7% of a story is verbal; very little of it, it’s true, is that literal-verbal level, but suggestion and style that’s at least partially verbal says more than the literal meaning of the literal words say.

But aside from Poems for the Boys’ Club’s Backroom, you know—most of it was meant to be performed, and ultimately in life, physical and verbal intelligence are meant to cooperate. The tyranny of verbal intelligence of the critic is just…. Empire, you know. It’s the Atlantic slave trade, basically. The critic thinks that what separates him from the slave is his only true worth; the actor and the good poet, not so much.
  goosecap | Nov 13, 2023 |
A mediocre Shakespeare collection. Not comprehensively stuffed with annotations and commentary like the Arden series nor light and easy to transport like the Folger collection. Even compared to other Shakespeare 'complete works' volumes, its cover is cheaply made and the preliminary essay is saccharine and factually inaccurate. But, Shakespeare's writing can elevate even the most poorly made of publications ( )
  Liam223 | Aug 14, 2023 |
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There are moments when one asks despairingly why our stage should ever have been cursed with this "immortal" pilferer of other men's stories and ideas, with his monstrous rhetorical fustian, his unbearable platitudes, his pretentious reduction of the subtlest problems of life to commonplaces against which a Polytechnic debating club would revolt, his incredible unsuggestiveness, his sententious combination of ready reflection with complete intellectual sterility, and his consequent incapacity for getting out of the depth of even the most ignorant audience, except when he solemnly says something so transcendently platitudinous that his more humble-minded hearers cannot bring themselves to believe that so great a man really meant to talk like their grandmothers.

With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespear when I measure my mind against his. The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him, knowing as I do how incapable he and his worshippers are of understanding any less obvious form of indignity. To read Cymbeline and to think of Goethe, of Wagner, of Ibsen, is, for me, to imperil the habit of studied moderation of statement which years of public responsibility as a journalist have made almost second nature in me.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Saturday Review, George Bernard Shaw (Sep 26, 1896)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abel, RayIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alexander, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Bourus, TeriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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William Shakespeare's date of birth is not precisely known, but it probably preceded his baptism on April 26, 1564, in Stratfordon-Avon, by only a few days.
There is no proof that Shakespeare personally superintended the printing of any of his plays.
Publisher's Preface: In the words of the First Folio of 1623, "The Riverside Shakespeare" is addressed 'To the great Variety of Readers.  From the most able, to him that can but spell.'" - Harold T. Miller, President Houghton Mifflin Company
Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.
- (The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2, Line 213)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This work contains all works written by Shakespeare – this is not the Complete Plays only. Shakespeare wrote sonnets and poems in addition to the plays.
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Presents the works of William Shakespeare, along with an analysis of the nature and authority of the early documents, a list of the canon and chronological order of composition, an essay on Shakespeare's language, and a bibliography.

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