I want to read Shakespeare /lit/, but I'm completely lost when it comes to choosing editions. I'm talking physical books.
What are the best options for someone that wants to read and understand him? (I clarify this because I know there's plenty of editions meant for study with endless footnotes). Should I go for individual books for every of his major works? Should I stick with a complete collection perhaps? In any case, which editions?
been spending months looking for shakespeare editions. your options are super limited if you want individual editions - all paperback, arden or norton are generally recommended. oxford is not a bad choice either.
for complete one volume tomes, go for riverside or pelican.
is this your first time reading shakespeare? if so you might want something that's heavier on the footnotes to explain syntax and vocabulary.
Not OP but I have the Arden version of hamlet and there are way too many notes. Literally 3/4 of the page is explanation and 1/4 is the actual play. It makes any kind of flow impossible.
After that I bought the rest in the modern library rsc editions. They explain the more archaic words or expressions that we wouldn't know currently. 1 essay is included.
Shakespeare isn't that hard to understand and I think that Arden and probably Norton overdue the notes unless you want to be a Shakespeare scholar.
The Charles Knight editions (1891) are a bit archaic but the most beautiful I've found. Super detailed, baroque illustrations, critical essays, and even theories (which have somewhat been debunked) about possible "lost works" of Shakespeare's. For an up-to-date edition that's better for actors/directors than readers, the Kitteredge Shakespeares are your best bet. Riverside is okay if you like British history and contextual footnotes, but overrated and overpriced.
norton has more notes and contextual information; glosses along the side of the page with explanatory footnotes.
greenblatt's supplementary materials are interesting if you go for that.
if you just want to read the plays without the need for deep dive scholarly stuff RSC is fine.
I've never read a complete work by him but I've read my share of poetry and Greek tragedies. I tend to read literature from the Greeks to the 19th century so I don't have a problem with that, but I know Shakespeare is hard.
I can put a number on the footnotes and essays I want but my idea is not to go overboard and choose an edition that's only worth it if you aim for an in-depth study of the subject. When I say I want to understand I'm acknowledging the need for explanations but I'm aware that that can be a difficult line to draw.
Regarding individual vs complete works, the quality of the content takes precedence. But if you ask me I can't deny individual books have the upper hand when it comes to comfort.
also if you want individual copies the yale shakespeare can be found used at a decent price (150 - 200ish) on abebooks. they're quite old though so the spines/lettering will be very faded. i almost pulled the trigger on a set before settling on a world of shakespeare (penguin published individual editions of the pelican) set. it was sold for $100 on amazon ~10 years ago but now goes for like 500, but they're much newer and look nice enough. light on the in-text notes/commentary which is fine for me since i just wanted a reading copy set.
i recommend getting a one volume complete set then. Pelican or RSC sounds really good for what you're looking for in this case, as the norton/riverside would probably feel excessive.
Anons gave a lot of responses in a short amount of time, so I apologize for only addressing the first two posts.
Yes, RSC/Pelican sounds good. The Arden edition that >>7613059 mentioned is exactly what I want to avoid, and RSC/Pelican seem to have the amount of help required for someone that wants to read and enjoy his works.
Any differences worth mentioning between RSC and Pelican?
bubba download the shakespeare torrent. it contains a bunch of the editions in PDF. you can get a feel for the style of annotations, content of annotations, page set-up, and what not
Modern library RSC annotations for the first page of Richard II.
Annotations aren't repeated, so they get less and less as the play goes on.
The book in the picture are individual plays.
Standard paper back book binding (haven't had any problems) and thick paper. Same as other modern library books if you have any.
Oh I get it, I thought we were looking at the complete edition. I wonder if the complete edition are the same books compiled (same footnotes and all).
I like those individual books. It's going to be more more expensive but I like how they look and they're definitely the comfy choice.
Any particular order you recommend reading his works?
They are actually pretty cheap, I played $8 Canadian for each new.
I saved this chart a while ago. I read most of the plays before seeing it so read in a different order. Essentially all over the place.
I don't think it really matters except things like: Richard II --> Henry IV part 1 --> Henry IV part 2 --> Henry V
Some day I will read them all in chronological order to see if it does make a difference.
I'd recommend the Arden editions, despite the previous comments. I own these two and King Lear. They are great editions for serious study at a reasonable price. I now that the notes are not your thing, but I think Arden editors manage to make them unintrusive and very informative.
example annotations and footnotes for Arden's the merchant of venice
From Romeo and Juliet. Even if they take a lot of space, it's not like they are useless. As I said, they are scholarly editions, and quite thoroughly so. If you don't like their layout, choose another one, like Oxford's. I preferencia Arden though, and would recommend them anytime.
And this is from the Sonnets edition.
I'm from South America so buying books in English is expensive from the get-go. My options are a library that specializes in English books but some times doesn't have what I'm looking for, and Book Depository. Usually the price is almost the same, but in this case the RSC individual editions are extremely expensive in the library and Book Depository sells them at 12 dollars each. The complete edition coats 45 dollars.
I think now you can understand why I said it's more expensive and why I'm interested in details about the complete edition like if you can open it flat or not.
Thank you for taking the time to take those pictures anon. The Merchant of Venice footnotes are just too much for me. It really goes all in and I don't think that's what I want. The Sonnets one has a really nice format though.
If after reading some I feel like I need more information, I'll go for these editions no doubt.
>The Merchant of Venice footnotes are just too much for me.
Just remember that the picture is only of one page. It's not like every single page is like that. There are pages of Rome and Juliet and King Lear that are as annotated as that example, but there are also scenes that aren't nearly as annotated because they don't need to be.
This guy isn't completely right. Yale made an outstanding set of all of his works, in nice small individual hardbacks. They stopped in the early 70s or late 60s, but a full set can still be had on ebay for under $150 on a good day. You may have to wait a few months to get them in the condition you want. I bought such a set for $100 and couldn't be happier.
Also, you can get all of his plays without line numnbers, footnotes, etc. for free from MIT while you wait then reread in the physical form. You will likely want to read each play a few times anyway. Might as well start now and just wait.
If the hardbacks don't appeal to you I'd get(in this order of recommendation): Riverside complete, RSC indivudlas, Oxford individuals, Arden inviduals.