Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not This Version: The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare Isn't!

The Good: Well, it's Shakespeare!
The Bad: Line cuts, Lack of numbering
The Basics: Read Shakespeare! Read him often and love him, but read a different collection, because this "complete" work is anything but!

Allow me to begin by saying that I'm a big fan of Shakespeare and the rating on this is for THIS edition. The Gramercy Books publishing (originally copyright 1975) is a poor compilation of the Bard's works.

I received this version of the complete works of Shakespeare (William Shakespeare The Complete Works) back in college and it made my reading three times as difficult. The first notable aspect is that this edition lacks line numbers. More than that, the scene changes aren't offset in any way to make it visually easier to find them. And while the book has the act and scene numbers in the heading, they don't help in plays like MacBeth where there are instances of several quick scenes, that end up being multiple scenes within a four page span.

Even more troubling is the formatting of the plays. There are significant instances where lines have been cut in order to make room well, for what's left of the lines. When most of the lines run over, they are parenthetically added to the line above. Take these lines from "Antony and Cleopatra" - they appear on the page thus:

[Caesar speaking]
"As my thoughts make thee, and as my fur-
thest band [tony,
Shall pass on thy approof. - Most noble An-
Let not the piece of . . ."
- Antony and Cleopatra, Act III, scene ii, lines ?, p. 857)

Reading Shakespeare should be work; in the deciphering, not the actual visual act of reading!
Between that and the fact that whole chunks of lines are removed, this is an especially troubling collection of Shakespeare. There were several instances while reading "Henry IV - Part 1" where words were cut out of lines and they were notable phrases!

There are better collections of Shakespeare's works that must be more complete than this ends up being!

For other classic works, please check out my reviews of:
Leaves Of Grass - Walt Whitman
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
The Sound And The Fury - William Faulkner


For other book reviews, check out my index page!

© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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