The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare

by William Shakespeare

Other authorsW. J. Craig (Editor)
Paperback, 1992



Call number

HI 3270 C886



Magpie Books (1992)


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.

Media reviews

The Saturday Review
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
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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.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Shakespeare does have some detractors--I suppose someone so highly lauded makes a big target--but he is a genuine favorite of mine. If your introduction to him in school put you off, I'd recommend you try renting one of the many fine films made of his famous plays. The text of a play is after all
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just a scaffolding--it's really not meant to be read, but seen. Here are a few suggestions, chosen not because they are necessarily Shakespeare's best plays, but among the most watchable film adaptations I've seen:

King Lear - there's a version with Lawrence Olivier that's superb.
Hamlet - I love the Kenneth Branagh version, but it clocks in at 4 hours. Shakespeare novices with less stamina might want to choose the ones with Gibson or Olivier in the title role instead.
Macbeth - Orson Welles and Roman Polanski both did versions I found very watchable.
Romeo and Juliet - I love the Zeffirelli version. He cast actors that were actually the right ages, and this film made me a fan of Shakespeare in my teens.
Henry V - I love both the Branagh and Olivier versions--though they're very different reads. Olivier's, done in the midst of World War II, heroic and patriotic, Branagh more cynical and dark.
Julius Caesar - try the one with a young Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony.
Much Ado About Nothing - Branagh again--but also his (then) wife Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and Kate Breckinsale all bringing their A-game.
Taming of the Shrew - with wife/husband team of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Taylor chews the scenery--great actress she isn't--but I admit I find the film fun.

There's also a Othello with Lawrence Fishburne and a Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino I've heard great things about, but haven't gotten around to seeing myself.

Although the more you're familiar with Elizabethan language, the better you can comprehend and appreciate the plays, and there's something to be said for reading the plays quietly on your own, one after another. Eventually you get oriented to his world and language, and it comes easier. Precisely because the language and some of the literary and historical allusions are unfamiliar though, reading an annotated edition of the plays is a must. About the only play I don't like is the ridiculous Titus Andronicus. Even if Camille Paglia defends it, I think the best that could be said of it is that it's comforting to know even Shakespeare can flub it. As for Shakespeare's poetry, I do love the sonnets madly. But Shakespeare's longer poems, such as Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis? Not so much.
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LibraryThing member rameau
You can skip Love's Labour's Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles, Cymbeline, and probably The Two Noble Kinsmen. Read everything else.
LibraryThing member annekiwi
I loved this book so much so that when I had to wait for long periods of time, I would take it with me [despite how big and heavy it is] and memorize parts of it. It was very easy to read, with copious footnotes to explain words that are not longer commonly used or social aspects of the time that
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Shakespeare was writing about. Very good book that I will keep for a very long time.
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LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
This is actually a horrible cheap edition with tiny print, but it's the only one I've got! Random favourite quote:
"At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth
But like of each thing that in season grows".
(Love's Labour's Lost).
LibraryThing member Mromano
Its a common question posed somewhere in one's life, if you were on a deserted island and you only could have five books-- Well, if I were on a deserted island and I could only have ONE book, this would be it. Shakespeare's complete works, which is large enough to qualify as three books but it
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still is only one title. I have read all of the plays (except the Henry VI plays and the Henry VIII) and each one is miraculous, a gift. One cannot read any of Shakespeare without recognizing the immense intellect behind the plays. Even the worst of Shakespeare has more than the best of any other author. If you were to take away everything ever written and only have Shakespeare left, you would have much more than a world without Shakespeare. As one author noted, "After God, Shakespeare created most".
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LibraryThing member josh314
There's no point in writing a review on the complete works of Shakespeare. Regardless whether the plays and poems are to your taste, they are western canon and had a profound effect on the English language. A rating of the works themselves is largely meaningless.

But it is worth reviewing this
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particular collection. Mine is a sturdy, handsome book which looks as great on the shelf as it did when I first got it fifteen or so years ago.The beginning of the book sports essays on Shakespeare the man, life in the Elizabethan world, and the theatre of the time. Not to mention a number of wonderful illustrations and copies of old publications such as the folio. Each play is introduced with a thorough discussion by a Shakespearean scholar and provides analysis as well as context for what follows. Toward the end of the volume are the sonnets and other poetry. All around a great thing to have on your shelf!
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LibraryThing member AgentJade
The Oxford Shakespeare isn't really the best edition out there, and I wish I had better researched editions (and better listened to my tutor!) before buying it. Obscure references/character names, and no footnotes. I highly recommend the Arden Shakespeare, as a really thorough and well-presented
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academic edition, or Riverside.
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LibraryThing member smallself
I’m not sure what I could do to summarize so many different works of several different kinds, so let me say this: Shakespeare is like the beginning of a great conversation. It lets you participate in something. People tend to have the impulse either to ignore or reject it, shutting down the
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conversation, or else to seize on it and take it away like a car or some expensive status symbol—something that you have and they don’t. “The closer to the light, the deeper the shadow.” (Jung). But it’s a poor life that avoids the light. It is a conversation, one that began before we were born and will continue after we are dead. And it is part of our true life, not something that has to do with who has got and who has not.
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LibraryThing member jouni
Reading anything of Shakespeare was NOT part of my technical stydying, especially not in English. However I was curious about some of his stories and wanted to read them as authentically as was reasonably possible. Then I read a few more and generally looked around some others, too. Good stories.
LibraryThing member BrianDewey
Just finished Twelfth Night. As far as editions of Complete Shakespeare were concerned, this was exactly what I wanted. It's compact enough that I can easily hold it and read it. (Compare to Riverside and you'll see what I mean.) The glosses were just enough to get me back into the swing of
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Elizabethan English. I first tried to read Twelfth Night in the Compact Oxford, which has no footnotes at all -- it was impossible, which is why I bought this edition.

As for Twelfth Night itself... I'm not the hugest fan of Shakespeare's comedies (except Midsummer Night's Dream). They all blur in my head. Disguise, mistaken identity, everyone married at the end. What struck me the most about this one is how cruelly Malvolio is treated. It made me uncomfortable to read about (and watch -- I saw this play recently). And then I was also confused about the homoerotic Antonio / Sebastian relationship. What was I supposed to read into this? All in all, it's no Othello.
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LibraryThing member ankhet
This edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare is excellent. I bought it as a textbook, but if I were looking for a complete works right now, I would buy it simply for its excellence.

Not only does it contain all of Shakespeare's works, but it has extensive notes on the text as well.
LibraryThing member Shaksper
I read Romeo & Juliet in 9th grade English and fell in love with it. Words and phrases became a part of my own language. It remains one of my favorite works of all time. When I subsequently HAD to read Shakespeare, it was with less vigor. However, when I approached them on my own, years after
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graduating with a literature degree, it was with renewed zest and unalloyed joy. Shakespeare can NOT be overrated, there is so much to discover, revel in, and take with you from every play. Other favorites include Lear, Antony & Cleopatra, and Midsummer Night's Dream.
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LibraryThing member JoyE
The book I have is not the Riverside--it's an old, library-smelling, thick, green, hardcover book that I got at Powell's bookstore. I love it: I've used it so many times, and it holds a revered place on my bookshelf.
LibraryThing member terceiro
The first edition was a bit heavy-handed editorially, and this edition doesn't change that. Instead, it makes changes for the sake of change; I suppose to stimulate sales of a new edition in the education market. The "inclusion" of Edward III is an interesting twist, except the editors take a cheap
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out: include an introduction but leave the text out, only to be accessed online. Even that introduction is lame, focusing on the historical issues about including the text rather than with the text itself. As a result, a reader is no more convinced that Edward III deserves to be in the volume: with such a half-hearted inclusion it would have been better to leave it out altogether.
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LibraryThing member JennGauthier
I have to give this one five stars simply because, for English lit students, it is the bible. It is the most comprehensive and detailed copy of Shakespeare's works you can buy, with enough footnotes to keep you busy for a lifetime. For the general population, however, I wouldn't recommend it. The
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print is miniscule, the book weighs more than most compact cars, and I've always found the cover to be a bit frightening, in a nice sort of way. For those of us that need to know every possible detail about any given play, the Riverside Shakespeare is indispensable.
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LibraryThing member John5918
It seems almost blasphemous to review Shakespeare. This edition is a useful size and easy to use.
LibraryThing member daizylee
My Mother's old Shakespeare textbook from college, it's the best one I've ever found. Wonderful introductions and notes. The binding isn't in great shape, but I love it passionately anyway.
LibraryThing member Telute
One of my favourite shakespeare comedies. The plot is simple, a group of men agree to go without love to further their learning and are then visited by a group of women who decide to thwart them. Staggering amounts of wordplay make notes almost essential for a first read and this edition has by far
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the best set of annotations I've seen. A very funny play with a twist at the end.
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LibraryThing member Abi78
Whether for reference or reading (or in my case, both) no bookshelf is complete without it.
LibraryThing member Wanderlust_Lost
Excellent collection. Colour illustrations, gilt edged pages, and very sturdy.
LibraryThing member keylawk
The Last Tragedies: ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA - opulent; CORIOLANUS - cold, contorted; TIMON OF ATHENS - rough-hewn one-note.

A gulf--perhaps personal crisis (death of his son Hamnet)-- between these last and the following four "Romances": PERICLES, CYMBELINE, THE WINTER'S TALE, and THE TEMPEST, in
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which the audience arrives, after many travails, at a happy if implausible ending. That is, we witness storm, terror and confusion give way to becalmed, recognized, unified, reconciled, forgiven--and brazen stage Spectacle. Of these, the Tempest is a masterpiece, with Prospero (sorcerer in Milan--puns the world as "the great globe" [theatre!]) spinning Plot on his island, contriving Prince Ferdinand as swain for his daughter Miranda, and in spite of the recalcitrant lone native slave Caliban. Prospero's stately valediction is Shakespeare's goodbye--although written before he was fifty.
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LibraryThing member orthros
Shakespeare. All of it. Amazing. Spellbinding. Regretably ribald at times.

Overall, the best volume of non-religious work by a single English author in the history of the world. 3 stars because I rate my books on the spiritual value of the works, and Shakespeare is decidely mixed in my opinion. If
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you disagree, heck, give 'im 5 stars.

But you knew that already, didn't you? :)
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LibraryThing member mgreenla
Can't say much more than, it's Shakespeare... The 38 volume set is readable, and well annotated. The text is large enough to read, unlike some other collections of Shakespeare's works which seem to trade off type size for space.
LibraryThing member belleyang
Too often we associate Shakespeare with gloss. It is a pleasure to read the Bard as he was read in the original, sans line numbering and explanation. You'll surprise yourself to find that can ride this vehicle without the training wheels!
LibraryThing member thfloreth
If you, too, are nerd enough to need a handy Complete Works to carry on the subway, this is a fine option. One wants (at least one) another edition with notes et al., but this has a pretty standard version of the plays, though now rather out-dated (e.g., my edition has No Noble Kinsmen, alas).


Original publication date

1589 - 1614 (original composition)

Physical description

1142 p.


1854871692 / 9781854871695
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