Distinguished Wordsmith
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
Re: OT (Off-Topic) Chatroom: "The Boar's Head Tavern"

I have to admit that I go overboard on buying versions of S's plays.  Initially, when I didn't have much money, I bought gradually the seven Everyman volumes so I had a complete set of the plays.  Then at some point somebody had the Yale one-volume Shakespeare on sale, so I bought that.  (I also have the all plays in two volumes in the Brittanica Great Books of the Western World series, but without any notes.)


Somewhere along the way I picked up the Bevington Complete Works which sits on my desk so I can look things up instantly without having to go over to the bookshelves.  (Also on my desk are a dictionary, the Oxford Book of English Verse (Quiller-Couch edition), and the complete Gilbert and Sullivan, which are the volumes I need to have to hand every hour of every day.)


But for comfortable reading, and for more comprehensive treatments of the plays, I also have one (or more) single play editions of almost all the plays.  I've been trying, and am still trying, to decide which publisher's editions I like best.  Early on I was getting mostly the Pelican editions.  Then I started getting the Arden editions, but they really have too much information and aren't as convenient for reading in bed or on a ferry.  I have at various times gotten plays in Signet, New Cambridge, World's Classics, Folger, Everyman, Penguin, and Bantam editions, and for Julius Caesar, since I didn't already have a one-volume edition of it, have ordered the Kitteridge edition to try out. 


But I've never found any series which I liked best.  They all seem to handle the notes a but differently.  Some have quite extensive notes on context as well as just meaning of unfamiliar words, while others just have minimal definitions.  Some have the notes as footnotes marked by line number but with no reference in the body of the text so you have to keep looking down to see whether this word or phrase is noted, some have regular line numbering every five lines but also add in line numbers for the lines that have footnotes so you know to go down and look (when there's a note for a line that would otherwise be marked anyhow, the line number is in a different font), some have a little mark by each word or phrase that has a footnote.  The Everyman has the text on the right page and the notes on the facing left page.  I still haven't settled on any one series that I think has both the best notes and the must unobtrusive but useful system for finding the appropriate notes.  


I admit that I go overboard, and every time I order a new edition I try to talk myself out of it because I definitely don't need another copy of any of the plays, but I usually buy them anyhow.  Just no self-control.  


Am I alone in this, or are there other people who will admit to this vice?


What editions do other people here find most useful, and why?

I think, therefore I drive people nuts.