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cheryl_shell
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A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

For A Midsummer Night's Dream, I will be using the featured Folger Shakespeare Library edition. Quotes from the play that I include in my posts (unless otherwise noted) come from that edition, and are cited accordingly.

The Folger edition is very good; I encourage you to buy it. But any annotated edition will work just fine for our discussions. Different editions, however, may have different line numbers. So you should bear that in mind when you are providing the line numbers for any quotes you may include in your posts, or when you are looking up quotes others have included in theirs.

For those of you not familiar with the convention, when citing Shakespeare, most people use this method: (1.2.3-10). The first number is the act, followed by the number of the scene, then finally the line number(s). So a quote from act 5, scene 1, lines 25-30 would be: (5.1.25-30). The citation lets people know where in the play you found the lines, so they can look them up if they wish.

It's also helpful when quoting more than one line of poetry to show the line breaks, like this: "And tragical, my noble lord, it is. / For Pyramus therein doth kill himself" (5.1.70-71). The forward slash indicates that the line ends there.

Cheryl
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Nadine
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine
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peytonj
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

I love the Folger editions... thanks for picking them!

And Nadine, a wonderful resource for all things Shakespeare is "The Essential Shakespeare Handbook" by Leslie Dunton-Downer. I checked it out from the library three or four times, and then finally bought it at BN. It's the best book on the subject I've ever seen, chock full of color photos from productions all over the world, character analyses, detailed synopses of each play, etc. It's awesome.
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knickknack
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare



Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine



Nadine, a movie of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was made, starring Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, and others! Look for the DVD on the BN website. Although, as a teacher, I recommend that you read the entire play first, join the discussions here, and then watch the movie! :smileyhappy:
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Nadine
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare



peytonj wrote:
I love the Folger editions... thanks for picking them!

And Nadine, a wonderful resource for all things Shakespeare is "The Essential Shakespeare Handbook" by Leslie Dunton-Downer. I checked it out from the library three or four times, and then finally bought it at BN. It's the best book on the subject I've ever seen, chock full of color photos from productions all over the world, character analyses, detailed synopses of each play, etc. It's awesome.




Thanks for the suggestion. I'm off to my local B&N this afternoon to get my books.
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Nadine
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare



knickknack wrote:


Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine



Nadine, a movie of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was made, starring Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, and others! Look for the DVD on the BN website. Although, as a teacher, I recommend that you read the entire play first, join the discussions here, and then watch the movie! :smileyhappy:




Thanks. Yes, I'll tackle the play first and order the DVD on line. I should have the play read before I get the DVD.
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Oakman
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

If you can get ahold of it, I suggest you view a copy of Max Reinhardt's 1938 film of Dream. Reinhardt had staged the play three dozen times when Jack Warner hired him to put in on film the cast included: James Cagney as Bottom; Mickey Rooney as Puck; Olivia de Havilland as Hermia; Joe E. Brown as Flute; Dick Powell (miscast) as Lysander; and Victor Jory as Oberon.

Although far from perfect, it is, for me, far more interesting than the somewhat pedestrian but far more available version that starred Flockhardt. Although some of the casting may seem strange, it works far better than one might expect.
I'll go burn some sack; 'tis too late to go to bed now. . .
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Everyman
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare


Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine




I'm sure Cheryl will have some good ideas here, but I can't avoid jumping in with a few recommendations.

There are many, many books on Shakespeare. I have personal experience with only a limited number of them, and even so at times it's too easy to get buried in criticism and forget to re-read the play itself. But for whatever use it is to you, here are some thoughts.

Most annotated editions have their own introductions. As Cheryl notes, the Folger editions are very good; so, I think, are the Pelican/Penguin editions. The Signet editions also add other analytical material, which is sometimes quite useful. The Arden editions are perhaps the most scholarly, but personally I find them to be too much, with way too much discussion of textual detail. But if you like this sort of thing, they are excellent at it.

Although most editions have notes that define unfamiliar terms, still a glossary of Shakespeare's language can be helpful. For decades, the standard was Onions A Shakespeare Glossary, and it's still quite influential. But I now more often turn to the more recent Shakespeare's Words by David and Ben Crystal.

I can't recommend highly enough Harold Goddard's two-volume set The Meaning of Shakespeare. (Although it comes in two volumes, it's not voluminous.) His analyses are straightforward and insightful. He discusses each play, some at greater length than others. I find him unfailingly helpful.

There are at least three relatively well known one-volume editions of analysis. Though it was well reviewed when it came out, I find Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human essentially unreadable, and others in a Shakespeare discussion group I participate in have also generally abandoned him in favor of Goddard. Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All I find idiosyncratic; she has an overall approach that I find occasionally interesting but more often unhelpful. Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare takes a very interesting approach. I know some scholars turn their noses up at him because he is best known as a science and science fiction writer, not a literary professor, but I really enjoy him and find him quite useful. He goes through each play in some detail discussing not only the play itself but much of the historical and social background of it. He isn't as valuable as Goddard for insightful analysis of the plays, but is extremely interesting to read to put the plays into context and to get some interesting tidbits on them. It was originally published in two volumes, and may still be in that format in second hand bookstores, but has been republished in a single volume. He's my second choice after Goddard.

For the four major tragedies, the classic work is Bradley's Shakespearean Tragedy. It is a superb, detailed look at the major tragedies, and is not to be missed by anyone serious about reading these plays.

There have been many critics of Shakespeare over the decades who have written on some, but I don't think all, of the plays. Of these, the ones I find most useful personally are Northrup Frye, particularly his On Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, usually most easily available in editions of his collected works, particularly the Yale Edition of his works, G. Wilson Knight, particularly The Wheel of Fire, and Samuel Coleridge, whose writing is somewhat old-fashioned and sometimes takes a bit of effort to get the greatest benefit from, but whose insights on Shakespeare are extremely valuable.

One other book that may be helpful, particularly to relative newcomers to Shakespeare,is Norrie Epstein's The Friendly Shakespeare. It's not particularly scholarly, but has a bunch of fun tidbits in it, and is fun to browse in. It does give a quick synopsis of each play, which can be helpful if you want a roadmap before diving in, or if somebody in a post refers to another play you haven't read and you want to see what on earth they might be referring to. It's not a book I would recommending sitting down to read straight through, but is good for dipping into or clarifying points or looking up things like the sequence of the plays (there is still debate about some of this, but the general sequence is pretty well agreed on).

I have not even mentioned Shakespearean biography here, but there is another section for that, and personally I haven't found any of the biographies all that helpful. As Cheryl has pointed out, we know very few facts of his life, and speculation doesn't interest me all that much. And if Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare after all, what's the point in biographies about him?

Before I close, I have to mention one final thing. The Teaching Company has produced several excellent lecture series on Shakespeare given by Peter Saccio, who is a professor at Dartmouth and also a Shakespearean actor and lecturer. They are uniformly superb, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Saccio has also written a book, Shakespeare's English Kings, which is very helpful when reading the history plays.

I am sure that Cheryl and others will have favorite works to recommend, and note again that these are just my personal views and don't represent what serious Shakespeare scholars would recommend. But for what they're worth, here they are.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Everyman
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare



knickknack wrote: a movie of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was made, starring Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, and others!


Is this the one with bicycles and other absurdities in it? If so, I will have much to say about it and other desecrations of Shakespeare in later posts.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Nadine
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DVDs

I went to B&N online to look for some DVDs for Midsummer. I discovered a "package" of BBC comedies that are on sale at a special post holiday rate of $88 (for members) for all five. Seems like a good deal at $17 each. Price is usually $135. I did a bit of research and found out that they sell individually for $50 each!

Anyone know about these? Here is what is in the package and where to find the on-sale package.

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?z=y&EAN=739815002557&itm=3

A Midsummer Night's Dream
As You Like It
The Merchant of Venice
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Distinguished Bibliophile
Nadine
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Commentaries

Fantastic, Everyman! Exactly what I'm looking for. I've printed out your great review of the resources. Thanks a bunch.



Everyman wrote:

Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine




I'm sure Cheryl will have some good ideas here, but I can't avoid jumping in with a few recommendations.

There are many, many books on Shakespeare. I have personal experience with only a limited number of them, and even so at times it's too easy to get buried in criticism and forget to re-read the play itself. But for whatever use it is to you, here are some thoughts.

Most annotated editions have their own introductions. As Cheryl notes, the Folger editions are very good; so, I think, are the Pelican/Penguin editions. The Signet editions also add other analytical material, which is sometimes quite useful. The Arden editions are perhaps the most scholarly, but personally I find them to be too much, with way too much discussion of textual detail. But if you like this sort of thing, they are excellent at it.

Although most editions have notes that define unfamiliar terms, still a glossary of Shakespeare's language can be helpful. For decades, the standard was Onions A Shakespeare Glossary, and it's still quite influential. But I now more often turn to the more recent Shakespeare's Words by David and Ben Crystal.

I can't recommend highly enough Harold Goddard's two-volume set The Meaning of Shakespeare. (Although it comes in two volumes, it's not voluminous.) His analyses are straightforward and insightful. He discusses each play, some at greater length than others. I find him unfailingly helpful.

There are at least three relatively well known one-volume editions of analysis. Though it was well reviewed when it came out, I find Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human essentially unreadable, and others in a Shakespeare discussion group I participate in have also generally abandoned him in favor of Goddard. Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All I find idiosyncratic; she has an overall approach that I find occasionally interesting but more often unhelpful. Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare takes a very interesting approach. I know some scholars turn their noses up at him because he is best known as a science and science fiction writer, not a literary professor, but I really enjoy him and find him quite useful. He goes through each play in some detail discussing not only the play itself but much of the historical and social background of it. He isn't as valuable as Goddard for insightful analysis of the plays, but is extremely interesting to read to put the plays into context and to get some interesting tidbits on them. It was originally published in two volumes, and may still be in that format in second hand bookstores, but has been republished in a single volume. He's my second choice after Goddard.

For the four major tragedies, the classic work is Bradley's Shakespearean Tragedy. It is a superb, detailed look at the major tragedies, and is not to be missed by anyone serious about reading these plays.

There have been many critics of Shakespeare over the decades who have written on some, but I don't think all, of the plays. Of these, the ones I find most useful personally are Northrup Frye, particularly his On Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, usually most easily available in editions of his collected works, particularly the Yale Edition of his works, G. Wilson Knight, particularly The Wheel of Fire, and Samuel Coleridge, whose writing is somewhat old-fashioned and sometimes takes a bit of effort to get the greatest benefit from, but whose insights on Shakespeare are extremely valuable.

One other book that may be helpful, particularly to relative newcomers to Shakespeare,is Norrie Epstein's The Friendly Shakespeare. It's not particularly scholarly, but has a bunch of fun tidbits in it, and is fun to browse in. It does give a quick synopsis of each play, which can be helpful if you want a roadmap before diving in, or if somebody in a post refers to another play you haven't read and you want to see what on earth they might be referring to. It's not a book I would recommending sitting down to read straight through, but is good for dipping into or clarifying points or looking up things like the sequence of the plays (there is still debate about some of this, but the general sequence is pretty well agreed on).

I have not even mentioned Shakespearean biography here, but there is another section for that, and personally I haven't found any of the biographies all that helpful. As Cheryl has pointed out, we know very few facts of his life, and speculation doesn't interest me all that much. And if Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare after all, what's the point in biographies about him?

Before I close, I have to mention one final thing. The Teaching Company has produced several excellent lecture series on Shakespeare given by Peter Saccio, who is a professor at Dartmouth and also a Shakespearean actor and lecturer. They are uniformly superb, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Saccio has also written a book, Shakespeare's English Kings, which is very helpful when reading the history plays.

I am sure that Cheryl and others will have favorite works to recommend, and note again that these are just my personal views and don't represent what serious Shakespeare scholars would recommend. But for what they're worth, here they are.

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Harvested_Sorrow
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Re: Commentaries

I'm going to recommend an obvious choice that hasn't been named yet. Shakespeare A to Z by Charles Boyce. It's an encyclopedia about everything Shakespeare and while it's slightly dated it's a wonderful reference and generally considered to be among the best.
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Commentaries

To Everyman and Harvested,

Thanks for the references. It's going to be hard to choose between them but it looks like a good day to browse thru my local B&N.
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


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"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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LibbyLane
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

[ Edited ]

Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine




In addition to the recent movie several people have mentioned, there's a retro British version complete with miniskirts. (Though if you don't want to see Judy Dench VERY scantily clad as Titania, it's not for you!) Also available (though I'd think harder to track down) is the Reinhardt version with "movie magic" transforming Bottom into an ass and a very frightening 9-year-old Mickey Rooney as Puck.

I liked the British one best.

Message Edited by LibbyLane on 01-29-200707:35 AM

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Nadine
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

Thanks for the tip, Libby. That looks like the Peter Hall one. Quite a cast! Diana Rigg, Judi Dench, Ian Holm, and Ian Richardson. I just rented it from Netflix. I didn't see the Mickey Rooney there but they did have the Kevin Kline one.

I also ordered the B&N five-pack comedies so I will be getting the BBC version that apparently sticks close to the play. I would have ordered from B&N the two five-pack tragedies and the histories but for some reason B&N doesn't tell you what they contained! Can't even figure it out from the pictures. Sorry B&N but I'm not going to spent several hundred dollars on "surprise packages!" You might pass that bit of information on to your marketing department.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I now have a growing Shakespeare library as well.

Nadine




LibbyLane wrote:

Nadine wrote:
Cheryl,

Can you list some commentary texts that might be useful to a beginner. Also, are there any good videos of the play?

Nadine




In addition to the recent movie several people have mentioned, there's a retro British version complete with miniskirts. (Though if you don't want to see Judy Dench VERY scantily clad as Titania, it's not for you!) Also available (though I'd think harder to track down) is the Reinhardt version with "movie magic" transforming Bottom into an ass and a very frightening 9-year-old Mickey Rooney as Puck.

I liked the British one best.

Message Edited by LibbyLane on 01-29-200707:35 AM



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headings -suggestions

Hi,
soon we will have quite many posts here (I am sure) with all the wonderful enthusiastic people joining in.

This new format is a bit clumsy to handle (my opinion) and I would therefore suggest that we keep topics together under appropriate files and stick to the outlined subject as much as possible. You can start a new file by clicking new message (top left).

Also, please change headings of your posts accordingly so that they mirror the content of your posting.
I think it will make life more enjoyable for us all.

Thanks a lot
ziki
:-)
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text

Hi Cheryl,
is the text in all the different editions identical?
I happened to get another one than this you recommend.

ziki
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BookWorm21
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

Hello! New to B&N book clubs and thrilled to be here and discussing MND with all of you!

After reading about the great book recommendations on this thread, I thought I would ask: Does anyone have any recommendations for a good paperback of Shakespeare's complete works? I have two hardback versions that I love, but I'm looking for a portable version. One without too much commentary, but with good definitions of terms would be great. I've been eyeing the Harper Collins version, but the new update is supposed to come out in April. Thanks!
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samantilles
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Re: A Note about Editions and Quoting Shakespeare

Portability is rather relative... Lets just say every time I start a new book, my purse size changes! After a while, I simply stopped changing purses, and went shopping with my leatherbound Moby Dick (My largest hardbound book) and made sure that whatever purse I bought could fit the book, my iPod, and my wallet... such things like cell phones, car keys, make-up, and business cards aren't nearly as important!
I did however, purchase a paperback copy of MSND for "portability" reasons. My excuse for double purchasing (as I do own a wonderful hardbound complete Shakespeare) Donate it to a good cause... libraries, book exchanges, etc. If only I could write it off my taxes!

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. ~ Edgar Allen Poe

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cheryl_shell
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Re: Shakespeare's text


ziki wrote:
Hi Cheryl,
is the text in all the different editions identical?
I happened to get another one than this you recommend.

ziki




Hi Ziki,

Welcome to the group! The text can vary from edition to edition, but usually not by much. Whoever edits the play decides which text he or she will be using. Some editors use editions by other (earlier) editors, some modernize the original published version(s)--whether the First Folio edition (the first published collected works in 1623) or an earlier version. The Riverside edition conflates the originals, meaning the lines from more than one early version have been combined to create a (mostly) seamless whole. The editor indicates when this occurs and where the lines have come from.

In editions that are not conflated (i.e. use only one early version), the differences between them could be minimal to marked: pieces of scenes or even entire scenes which appear in one version could be missing from another, lines could be considerably different from one version to the next.

But lest you think your version might be unrecognizable, rest assured drastic differences are not at all common, and only occur in a few places in the plays.

Perhaps textual differences will come up as we discuss the plays! I welcome those of you familiar with variations to discuss them and what they mean to the understanding of the plays.
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