Tempest Two Gentlemen of Verona Merry Wives of Windsor Measure for Measure Comedy of Errors Much Ado About Nothing Love's Labour's Lost Midsummer Night's Dream Merchant of Venice As You Like It Taming of the Shrew All's Well That Ends Well Twelfth Night Winter's Tale King John King Richard II King Henry IV. Part 1 King Henry IV. Part 2 King Henry V King Henry VI. Part 1 King Henry VI. Part 2 King Henry VI. Part 3 King Richard III King Henry VIII Troilus and Cressida Coriolanus Titus Andronicus Romeo and Juliet Timon of Athens Julius Caesar Macbeth Hamlet King Lear Othello Anthony and Cleopatra Cymbeline Pericles Venus and Adonis Rape of Lucrece Sonnets Lover's Complaint Passionate Pilgrim Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music Phoenix and the Turtle
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.
At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.
38 plays, 2 long poems, and 154 sonnets in 2462 onion-paper pages. I read them all. ALL. I think I deserve a self-congratulation for this. Yes. Good job!
It took me more than two months of intense reading that toughened my wrists and arms from reading it on the train standing, hardened my heart with stony indifference against people's perplexed and peering gazes thrown at me even to the point of leaning in from the side to see what the hell I'm reading, and made me utterly fearless against any future reference to Shakespeare.
From the end of January to today, April 5th, it was a long journey during which time I came out of Shakespearean depths only once to take a quick breather for five days and read one contemporary book. It was a long, long read indeed.
So what do I think of his works? Amazing. If you speak English, read them.
My favorite comedies are The Comedy of Errors, The Midsummer Night's Dream , All's Well That Ends Well, and of course, my absolute favorite, The Merchant of Venice. As for histories, Henry IV part 1&2, Henry V, and Richard III were fascinating and beautiful in myriad aspects. It seems like I'm drawn to wicked villains like Richard III, Shylock, and Barabas (Marlowe's The Jew of Malta), though I didn't absolutely love Iago from Othello for some reason.
And tragedies. Oh man. I read Macbeth and Julius Caesar in high school and middle school respectively, but I can say I understood less than 10% of their artistic merit now that I read them again. Macbeth is just a short, sweet, and wicked play with enchanting poetry, and the speeches in Julius Caesar are just mind-blowing in their poetry and rhetoric.
Romeo and Juliet definitely belongs to one of his greatest works. It's got the engaging story, beautiful language, and comic scenes all rolled in one - everything that makes a work of art entertaining and satisfying to people from all walks of life. Cymbeline is also awesome. The ending just so unrealistic that it's unbelievably satisfying. Hamlet is like a given and I don't think I need to say anything about it other than that it rocks.
Oh and I really liked this minor play, Titus Andronicus, considered by many critics to be one of his inferior plays. Granted, the beginning is just absolute shit at least plot-wise, but man, it's AWESOME with all that bloody murders and plotting and hatred and violence. It may be poetically inferior to other tragedies, but story-wise, it holds its own among his corpus.
It took me four years to finish Willie's entire body of work, and even though there were some ups and downs, ultimately, I am more than happy that I followed through with this project. I learned so much along the way (about literature, about England, about myself, about reviewing books, about researching and doing secondary reading). Willie's works are truly a treasure.
It was nearly the ending of summer, and I was then still eleven. Was playing basketball with my brother and friends. Came into the house for a cold drink and a snack.
Heard my sister and her friends making happy sounds. Decided I should investigate. They were watching a movie called “West Side Story.”
I heard lots of fun music, saw lots of fun dancing. Although covered in dirt and smelly with sweat, decided to invite myself in and squeezed between two people.
Heard about a song called Maria, Jet Song, Tonight, America, Gee, Officer Krupke, I Feel Pretty and others.
There was the beautiful Maria (who, strangely enough, didn’t look Puerto Rican). There was a gorgeous man named Bernardo. My tomboy days were over.
Dear mother noticed my happy obsession and told me about two young teenagers named Romeo and Juliet. A play written by William Shakespeare. Two kids in love with love 💕.
I devoured the book (in between countless views of West Side Story), repeatedly. Time to move on to more Shakespeare.
I fell in love with Macbeth and Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice. Henry V and Henry IV, Parts I and II.
Sonnets and more sonnets, more dramas, more histories and more comedies. With a multitude of clever quotations, I am definitely still in Shakespeare heaven.
Now, if you are reading this review and want to read this book, I will tell you that it is definitely worth the money. Lots of books are claiming to have his complete collection, but they always have something lacking.
This is very organized and put together very well. The table of contents list EVERYTHING!
There’s a section on the plays that are disputed as not written by Shakespeare. A chapter on his life and times. A chapter on his descendants (there aren’t any). A chapter on his rewriting of famous plays from other countries.
There is a good biography on him, and loads of research material. Anything you want is probably right in here.
Thanks for stopping by my way to read this review. I hope that you have enjoyed your view. I know that you will definitely enjoy this book. $1.99 on Amazon and iBook.
I plan to read many Shakespeare plays this summer. I won’t complete the full works, but finishing them all is one of my major reading goals. It might take me a few years to do it, but I shall get there eventually!
Here’s where I’m up to at the moment:
1 Two Gentlemen of Verona 2 Taming of the Shrew 3 Henry VI, part 1 4 Henry VI, part 3 5 Titus Andronicus 6 Henry VI, part 2 7 Richard III 8 The Comedy of Errors 9 Love's Labours Lost 10 A Midsummer Night's Dream 11 Romeo and Juliet 12 Richard II 13 King John 14 The Merchant of Venice 15 Henry IV, part 1 16 The Merry Wives of Windsor 17 Henry IV, part 2 18 Much Ado About Nothing 19 Henry V 20 Julius Caesar 21 As You Like It 22 Hamlet 23 Twelfth Night 24 Troilus and Cressida 25 Measure for Measure 26 Othello 27 All's Well That Ends Well 28 Timon of Athens 29 The Tragedy of King Lear 30 Macbeth 31 Anthony and Cleopatra 32 Pericles, Prince of Tyre 33 Coriolanus 34 Winter's Tale 35 Cymbeline 36 The Tempest 37 Henry VIII 38 Sonnets
There's so may greats on this list that I have to read soon!
See bottom of review for a list of the plays in order
What follows is little more than the GoodReads description of the edition pictured. But I feel I can do that, since I wrote the description.
This tome includes all 37 of Shakespeare's plays, as well as his poems and sonnets. It was produced "for college students in the hope that it will help them to understand, appreciate, and enjoy the works for themselves. It is not intended for the scholar ..."
Two-column format throughout.
Introductory Material (90 pages): 1. The Universality of Shakespeare 2. Records of the Life of Shakespeare 3. Shakespeare's England 4. Elizabethan Drama 5. The Elizabethan Playhouse 6. The Study of the Text 7. The Development of Shakespeare's Art 8. Shakespeare and the Critics 9. Shakespearean Scholarship and Criticism 1900-1950
Plates: 16 full-page Halftone Reproductions 6 full-page Line Cuts 9 pages of Notes on the Plates
The Plays: Generally in order of writing. Each play has its own Introduction Footnotes at the bottom of the columns. This makes them both handy and unobtrusive. Liked by this reader.
Appendices follow The Poems: 30 Appendices in about the same number of pages; these deal with a wide variety of topics, everything from "The Melancholic Humor" to "Cuckolds and Horns" to "Hawks and Hawking".
I don't know how it compares with other editions of Shakespeare's works. It is the one I have.
Here are Shakespeare's 37 plays, in the order presented in this edition. This is the best guess (at the time the edition was printed) of the order in which they were written, when on my no-longer-young journey I read the play, and links to my review. (It will take several years for this quest to be completed.)
1. The First Part of King Henry the Sixth 2. The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth 3. The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth 4. The Tragedy of King Richard the Third _2017_Apr. 5. The Comedy of Errors 6. The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus 7. The Taming of the Shrew _2017_Apr. 8. The Two Gentlemen of Verona 9. Love's Labor's Lost 10. The Tragedy of King Richard the Second _2016_Aug. 11. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet 12. A Midsummer Night's Dream _2014_Feb. 13. The Life and Death of King John _2016_Apr. 14. The Merchant of Venice 15. The First Part of King Henry the Fourth 16. The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth 17. Much Ado About Nothing _2016_Jan. 18. The Life of King Henry the Fifth 19. As You Like It _2015_Feb. 20. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar _2017_Oct. 21. Twelfth Night; or What You Will 22. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark 23. The Merry Wives of Windsor 24. The Tragedy of Troilus and Cressida 25. All's Well That Ends Well _2015_June 26. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice 27. Measure For Measure 28. The Tragedy of King Lear 29. The Tragedy of Macbeth 30. The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra 31. The Tragedy of Coriolanus 32. Timon of Athens 33. Pericles _2016_Oct. 34. Cymbeline 35. The Winter's Tale 36. The Tempest _2017_July 37. The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth
Simply put, When you have The Complete Works of William Shakespeare you have one of the best works of literature ever written. I would definitely place it in the top 10 best works of literature of all time. I bought this book at special price from here: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Works...
PANDARUS: Alas, I think he shall be come approached and the day When little srain would be attain'd into being never fed, And who is but a chain and subjects of his death, I should not sleep.
Second Senator: They are away this miseries, produced upon my soul, Breaking and strongly should be buried, when I perish The earth and thoughts of many states.
DUKE VINCENTIO: Well, your wit is in the care of side and that.
Second Lord: They would be ruled after this chamber, and my fair nues begun out of the fact, to be conveyed, Whose noble souls I'll have the heart of the wars.
Clown: Come, sir, I will make did behold your worship.
VIOLA: I'll drink it. ____________________
The Karpathy article is excellent, and if you're at all geeky yourself I strongly recommend looking at it. The examples are impressive: the random Shakespeare is good, but the random algebraic geometry and random Linux kernel code are even better.
Update as of 2022: Last summer I went to a live production in a castle garden of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I've always thought this play overdone a bit like Romeo and Juliet, it's one of the more popular ones, and I think I finally realize why. Shakespeare, without a doubt, is meant to be seen on stage. I can not stress enough how incredibly brilliant this author is with the written play and seeing it acted out on stage gives it a whole new dimension. This play was fantastic and had me laughing and falling in love with Shakespeare all over again. One of the best classical authors ever. And I highly encourage you to see at least one of his plays in your lifetime.
Shakespeare as classical writing written when I first started reading Shakespeare:
I understand now why I have such a hard time reading Shakespeare. It's not that it's hard to understand. There are enough translations and self help guides to get you through the plot of any of the plays. And once I started reading and translating, I started to get the hang of it, and had fewer words and phrases that I had to look up. No, it's not that. Simply put, it's a play, and not meant to be read. I know there are some who might disagree with me, however, that's my opinion. I revel in the complacency of description and plays don't have it. It is just dialogue. There is nothing to tell you infinitely how a character is feeling or what they're thinking. There's nothing to tell you how the set looks (besides a sometimes small minimalist description). There is nothing to tell how a character looks, are they beautiful? Are they old? Yes, I understand you can infer many of these things from the dialogue which is what you're supposed to do, but to me, there is great room for interpretation, unlike a book, which will describe it for you.
Also, after doing a little reading on Shakespeare and the republishing of his works, it seems there are many different conflicting sources of original text, which is why you often find various works with different scripts. I truly believe that Shakespeare meant these to be seen on stage, not read from a page. It's where his genius is best seen and appreciated. That being said, I plan to read each play, then watch a movie rendition of each one.
I would also like to list the reasons here that Shakespeare's works are classics instead of going into the same points repeatedly as I review each work. They are classics, I can't dispute it, whether or not I enjoy each individual play or not. And I do believe this is the first time that an author has gotten 8 out of 10 of my Definitions for a Classic.
1. Longevity: He's been around through the ages and I have no doubt we'll be acting out his plays on the moon.
2. The magic factor: His stories will pull you in every time. They focus on the aspects of human nature that we all can relate to, so you care about the outcome of the characters.
3. Unique: He has an unusual literary style that has made him popular throughout history.
4. New Style of Writing: Now I'm stretching it with this one, I know, because anyone who has studied literature knows Shakespeare wasn't the first to use Iambic Pentameter, however I believe he was the first to make it popular. You ask anyone to tell you the first author that comes to mind when you say Iambic Pentameter and they're not going to say Chaucer, they're going to say Shakespeare.
5. Huge Following: There isn't a person on the planet who doesn't know who Shakespeare is.
6. Controversial: To say his works are controversial is an understatement. The amount of times he's been banned is enough to put him in this category. The reasons for his censorship are diverse but range from vulgarity, to sex, to politics, to excessive use of freedom. (seriously, what does that even mean?)
7. Underlying themes: Underlying themes run rampant throughout his works and offer a wide variety of human conditions. Anything from betrayal and love to honour and glory can be seen in his works.
8. Substantial Influence: Shakespeare has had influence in every aspect of society from helping to shape the English language (It's all greek to me and tongue-tied - said to have added over 1700 words to the English language) to politics. (Dangers of introducing foreign politics into a city)
It all ended so fast. I feel like it's just January, but look at the calendar - it's December! You surely remember earlier in the year when I said I had put a challenge for myself. This was the Shakespeare Challenge, in which I had to read all the works known by William Shakespeare. Guess what? I finally read them all!
It started in January. I was bored and I didn't know what to read. One day I went to the library and checked out a book that contained 4 of Shakespeare's best plays. I read it and soon after I told myself I needed to read more of his works. Thus, I got another book: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. 11 months after, I finally managed to read them all.
The task of reading Shakespeare's works was not as difficult or tedious as it seems to be. It took me long because I was most of the time busy and didn't have time to read, so I read them in-between classes and studying. To my surprise, I loved some of the plays, others disturbed me, and others made me laugh out loud.
The first plays I read were the most popular ones, and were the ones I enjoyes the most. The tragedies worked better for me than the comedies, with the exception of Romeo and Juliet, which I did not despise but didn't love either. My favourite ones are probably Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and A Midsummer's Night Dream.
About the historical plays, I can say they were harder to read because the tone was more serious and they were not meant to entertain, but they were worth reading all the same. I think the best ones here were the ones about Richard II and III.
As for the poems, they were good too. They were beautiful, and this is said by someone who is not used to read poetry.
I tell you, this challenge is one of the best I've put to myself. For next year, I'm not sure if I'll put more aside the Goodreads one because of my studies, but I certainly will read more classics (for example something by Jane Austen).
Please note, this is a review of this particular edition of the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare" from 1923. For reviews of various individual plays by Shakespeare, please see my shelves. **
This edition was published by "The Literary Press, London" on fine paper, to traditional standards, with each section sewn into the spine rather than glued. The top edge of the volume is gilt-edged. It has a soft cover with a burgundy leatherette finish, and gold lettering, plus a gold embossed design of the Shakespeare Coat of Arms.
Not many people know that William Shakespeare received a Coat of Arms from the English Government, to signify that he and his family were now a part of the upper class. Unfortunately, since he did not have a son to carry on the honour, the Coat of Arms was not carried on through the family name. Here is a copy of the Shakespeare Coat of Arms:
The motto is in medieval French: "Non sanz droict" translating to English as, "Not without right".
This volume is clearly intended to be a useful compact volume of Shakespeare's complete works. It is subtitled, Containing the Plays and Poems with special Introductory matter, Index of Characters & Glossary of unfamiliar terms. It can be held in one hand, and is comfortable to handle, considering it that it contains so many works. The frontispiece shows an engraving of "The Stratford Shakespeare":
The print, as one would expect, is quite small, but comparatively clear. The "special introductory matter" mentioned, consists of an introduction by St. John Greer Ervine, the Irish writer and critic, and an essay entitled "Shakepeare and Bacon" by the great Victorian English actor, Henry Irving.
There are also just a few double spread colour plates on glossy paper. These are all by classical painters such as the Pre-Raphaelites William Holman Hunt, and Sir John Everett Millais, and the animal artist Sir Edwin Landseer. There is also a painting by Daniel Maclise, a portrait painter and popular illustrator to Dickens's works, and one by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who specialised in classical subjects, particularly of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire. Since there are only eight of them, they are sadly not very noticeable in a volume of over 1000 pages, but they are attractive to come across in context:
A Scene from "Twelfth Night" ('Malvolio and the Countess') - Daniel Maclise
A Scene from "Midsummer Nights Dream" ('Titania and Bottom')- Sir Edwin Landseer
A Scene from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" ('Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus')- W. Holman Hunt
This must have been quite an attractive volume originally. It is still a nice one to have, as it presents all the works in a way which is quick to refer to. It is nicer than an average modern "Complete Shakespeare" volume, and easier to use too. It has some history, but is still not my first choice for ease of reading each individual play. However, it was my first introduction to Shakespeare, as I found it in a church jumble sale for a few pennies when I was a child. I remember the occasion well, being convinced I had found a very important work - a real bargain! It therefore has some sentimental value for me personally. I seem to remember there was a yellow-gold silken ribbon bookmark attached at the top ... but it must have got detached and lost over the years.
As today is 23rd April 2016, and the quatercentenary, (400 years) of Shakespeare's death, it seemed a good time to have a look at my oldest book by him, even though it is not yet quite a hundred years old.
**I have not read all the works in this volume. However, if you would like to read my review of a particular play by William Shakespeare, please see my shelves for these.
19/10 - I've just started a course on Shakespeare through FutureLearn and the first play that we are studying is The Merry Wives of Windsor, which is one I know absolutely nothing about. So far, I've read about three pages, or to the end of scene one and what I understand is that while I can barely understand the language, I can get the general gist of what's going on (or at least I think I can). There are many instances where God is Got, better is petter, brings is prings, very is fery, good is goot, and w is left off the beginning of a couple of words, all of which makes for confusing and slow reading. I think I understand what was being discussed in scene one - Shallow has accused Falstaff of assault, breaking and entering and poaching of his deer - but it was a little difficult to pull that information out of all those difficult and misspelt words. Professor Bate's (who is the scholar running the course) comment that Elizabethan's weren't concerned with spelling is certainly proven correct by the writing in The Merry Wives of Windsor. To be continued...
At the end of act I, scene III - I don't understand why Falstaff is trying to woo a pair of married women. Is he just being spiteful? Or is he delusional enough to really believe that they 'gave him good eyes'? To be continued...
26/10 - Well I finished it, mostly thanks to www.sparknotes.com. I really had trouble with the language throughout the play and had to refer to SparkNotes at least once a page. I could see where the dialogue might be funny, but I think it might work better as an acted out play rather than a read one. I feel like I would have enjoyed The Merry Wives of Windsor a lot more if I had been able to imagine what was happening in the scene better.
Our next play to study is A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is one of the plays I studied at school, I think I was in year 10 literature, so about 16. I remember enjoying it and the movie with Calista Flockhart and Kevin Kline, also the Balanchine ballet. I think I might have to make a concerted effort to get my hands on one or both of these, watching the action really does help my comprehension of the dialogue. To be continued...
31/10 - A Midsummer Night's Dream was an easier and much more humourous read. Having read it before and seen the 1999 movie surely made a difference and "Yay!" I've managed to download/rent that same movie through my pay tv service. A movie of this week's play, Henry V, is proving more difficult to acquire. No luck with my pay tv service, iTunes, Hoyts Kiosk, or my library system.
I've heard the quote
"Once more unto the breach, my dear friends..."
many times but had no idea it was Shakespeare's words that I was hearing, or a paraphrased version of it, from sources as diverse as Star Trek to every day use around the office. To be continued...
Can 35 Thousand Literary Critics and 3 Million Groundlings Be Wrong? Yes.
Taking arms against Shakespeare, at this moment, is to emulate Harry Potter standing up to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Simply opposing Lord V-- won't end him. The Shakespeare epiphenomenon will go on, doubtless for some time, as J. R. R. Tolkien did, and then wane. Or so one can hope.
The official newspaper of our dominant counter-culture, The New York Times, has been startled by Shakespeare's plays into establishing a new policy for its not very literate book review. Rather than crowd out the Grishams, Clancys, Crichtons, Kings, Rowlings and other vastly popular prose fictions on its fiction bestseller list, the Shakespeare plays will now lead a separate theatre list. William Shakespeare, the chronicler of such characters as "Hamlet" and "King Lear," thus has an unusual distinction: he has changed the policy of the policy-maker.
I read new dramatic literature, when I can find some of any value, but had not tried Shakespeare until now. I have just concluded "The Comedy of Errors," purportedly the funniest of the lot. Though the play is not well written, that is not in itself a crucial liability. It is much better to see the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," than to read the book upon which it was based, but even the book possessed an authentic imaginative vision. "The Comedy of Errors" does not, so that one needs to look elsewhere for the play's remarkable success. Such speculation should follow an account of how and why "The Comedy of Errors" asks to be read.
The ultimate model for "The Comedy of Errors" is "Menaechmi" by Plautus, performed in Ancient Rome. The play depicts the mistaken identity of a set of twins named Menaechmus. But Plautus' play, still quite performable, was a Roman musical, not an Elizabethan comedy. Shakespeare has taken "Menaechmi" and re-seen it in the silly mirror of slapstick. The resultant blend of mistaken identities with cheesy Elizabethan idiocy may read oddly to me, but is exactly what millions of theatregoers and their parents desire and welcome at this time.
In what follows, I may at times indicate some of the inadequacies of "The Comedy of Errors." But I will keep in mind that a host are watching it who simply will not watch superior fare, such as Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist" or the "Tamburlaine" plays of Christopher Marlowe. Is it better that they watch Shakespeare than not watch at all? Will they advance from Shakespeare to more difficult pleasures? One doubts both possibilities.
*i didn't actually read this collection: this book is being used as "all shakespeare ever written."*
after finishing a blissful little re read of The Tempest, i hopped over to goodreads to review it... and literally experienced an existential crisis.
why, you may ask? i realized -horror of horrors- i haven't shelved a single shakespeare play on here. and im walking around saying he's my favorite author!!!
so i compiled, firstly, a list of the shakespeare i've read, so i could shelve and review it. let's see.
1. The Tempest 2. Julius Caesar 3. Macbeth 4. The Taming of the Shrew 5. Romeo and Juliet
hm. it feels like i've read more than that. i guess because i've seen them performed or read abridged versions of them. ah.
and that's when i had a ✨brilliant idea!✨ i could make this year *drumroll* The Year Of The Great Shakespeare Tbr!
truly a great plan, considering i already have a huge tbr, am currently in a reading slump, and have school things to read, not to mention im in multiple plays and have a million other miscellaneous things to do right now. and god knows what this year is even going to look like anyways. but i decided to go for it.
here is my grand plan.
☽ read the original versions of ☾ -As You Like It -Much Ado About Nothing -A Midsummer Nights Dream -The Two Noble Kinsman -A Winter's Tale -Hamlet -Othello -Antony and Cleopatra -Henry VIII -The Merry Wives of Windsor
☽ memorize a monologue from ☾ - A Midsummer Nights Dream or Much Ado About Nothing - The Two Noble Kinsman (there's this great lesbian romance monologue from a bi character i loveeee and need to learn) -Hamlet or Macbeth depending on what i find and like. then, what with my marc antony speech, i will have a comedic, romantic, historic, and tragic monologue!
*theater nerd moment* heh
anyways. on with the plan:
☽ read retellings of/acquire more knowledge of ☾ -Pericles, Prince Of Tyre -The Two Gentlemen of Verona -All's Well That Ends Well -Titus Andronicus -The Merchant Of Venice -All the Henrys (or Henries? Idk) -King Lear
☽ ignore ☾ -King John -Corialanus -Anything I Forgot
and there you are. the grand will-use-up-valuble-time-until-i-forget-about-it-and-it-is-never-seen-again plan!! woohoo!
also, i have a feeling a lot of my "read the original versions of" books will transfer to the last list over time. just to prepare you for that.
tl;dr: im going to try (and fail) to read, memorize, and learn about more shakespeare. despite my busy schedule and already-huge tbr. THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA. KIDS, DONT TRY THIS AT HOME.
What an exquisite edition of one of the greatest works in the Western canon. Armed with an authoritative editorial team, Professor Jonathan Bate has reworked all of Shakespeare's plays, as well as his poems. The footnotes are extensive and cover all meanings of words (including the more salacious ones that many school texts leave out), while also providing informative historical and contextual information.
This edition seeks to give us every word attributed to Shakespeare (although, as it points out at length, we can't really know what he wrote: all of our current versions come from a variety of sources typeset in his later years, and primarily from the First Folio printed after his death. Any work of the Bard's is distorted in some way). With appendices and footnotes, notable textual errors or areas of debate are highlighted.
There is so much to love here. Epic tragedies - Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear - joined by their lesser, but poetically affecting counterparts like Othello, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare plays with and shuffles around comic tropes in his wide variety of comedies: peaks include The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.
In his more subdued romances, Shakespeare often seems reduced to more typical characters yet imbues than with layer upon layer of subtlety: Measure for Measure and The Winter's Tale are particularly splendid examples. Some of the tragedies and comedies aren't as startling, and some are challenging - such as his part-satire Troilus and Cressida - but every work brims with characters whose opinions, beliefs and motives are individual, and not simply echoing those of an author. Beyond these plays lies a staggering cycle of love poems in The Sonnets, as well as his other various poetry which always makes fascinating, lyrical reading.
Capping all this is Shakespeare's incredible cycle of English history, which details the country's fate from 1199 to 1533, through the stories of the English monarchs: their battles, their loves, their lives and the effect their squabbles have over countless citizens. The cycle begins with the somewhat talky King John (far from my favourite work, but well presented in the BBC Complete Works cycle) and ends with the autumnal King Henry VIII. In between are eight plays (two tetraologies) which encompass the Wars of the Roses, and they are astonishing. From the private thoughts of the monarch to the most unimportant peasant, Shakespeare captures an age.
The introductions on each play detail cultural successes over the centuries, as well as basic historical information. I've seen people suggest other aspects that could improve this - such as a suggestion of ways to double parts (this is defined as the "actor's edition"). Certainly, I can accept that, but as it stands this is already beyond a 5-star piece of work. A place of honour on my shelf, that's for sure.
This year's goal is to attempt to read all of Shakespeare's work
COMEDIES All's Well That Ends Well 27/1/22 As You Like It 22/2/22 The Comedy of Errors Cymbeline 1/3/22 Love's Labours Lost Measure for Measure The Merry Wives of Windsor The Merchant of Venice A Midsummer Night's Dream 18/1/22 Much Ado About Nothing Pericles, Prince of Tyre Taming of the Shrew The Tempest Troilus and Cressida Twelfth Night 5/1/22 Two Gentlemen of Verona Winter's Tale
HISTORIES Henry IV, part 1 Henry IV, part 2 Henry V Henry VI, part 1 Henry VI, part 2 Henry VI, part 3 Henry VIII King John Richard II Richard III
TRAGEDIES Antony and Cleopatra 22/2/22 Coriolanus 23/2/22-28/2/22 Hamlet 4/3/22- 5/3/22 Julius Caesar King Lear Macbeth Othello Romeo and Juliet Timon of Athens Titus Andronicus
THE COMPLETE POEMS 154 Sonnets A Lover's Complaint 26/1/22 The Rape of Lucrece Venus and Adonis A Funeral Elegy 28/1/22
If the question is "do you recommend Shakespeare?" the answer would be of course, in what universe would he not be recommended? So I guess the one that would get any conversation whatsoever would be "would you recommend I read the complete works"? Well it certainly is a ride, a journey, there's quite a bit of stuff in here. One thing I'll say is I'm still not entirely convinced of literature's claim on Shakespeare because when I read these plays there's a yearning for performance, for interpretation, for blocking, for I suppose theatrics. Even so much as reading it aloud immediately transforms it, the wordplay comes to the forefront, sentences that seem to run on too long flow like they were meant for it, everything comes alive. Shakespeare's a theater man through and through. The bit that gets lost in reverse metamorphosis from stage to page is most apparent in the comedies. If I were to dissuade someone from reading this, a few of the comedies would be why. Not only do half of them recycle the same tropes and setups, but the wordplay, the slapstick, the puns, they're placid and lifeless on the page where on stage they would flourish. Though at worst I never thought "this is bad", just that "this isn't grabbing me". But if I were to recommend this to someone it would be for the surprises, the things you don't think would grab you, the things you might never have read on your own if it weren't part of this whole. For me this was Measure for Measure, and Coriolanus, and the histories which read like one cohesive arc when all read at once, and the sonnets, oh lord the sonnets. The sonnets are a treat after reading the 37 plays, they are the most personal connection to Shakespeare, the most candid thoughts of his that exist in print. He muses on love and death and art and insecurity and even makes dorky puns based off of his name Will, the sonnets humanize him. They flow almost as if meant to be read in the order they're presented and they act as the perfect coda to his other works. Overall if you feel like making the plunge, I can at least assure I'm glad I did.
Update: Seven plays into my current spree, I'm going to have to put this on hold due to a lack of time. I've now read 17 total- my most severe weakness is the histories (have only read Richard III and Henry IV). When I come back to this project, I think that I will be reading those in order.
1st: Macbeth (finished-review posted) 2nd: Two Gentlemen of Verona (finished-review posted) 3rd: King Lear (finished-review posted) 4th: Merchant of Venice (finished-review posted) 5th: Othello (finished-review posted) 6th: Comedy of Errors (finished-review posted) 7th: Antony and Cleopatra (finished)
Original Post: I've been thinking about doing this for awhile, but as it is Shakespeare's birthday, I've decided that now is the time to start this project. I want to read everything, starting with the plays I haven't read in awhile, or at all, and moving to the ones I'm more familiar with. I'll post individual reviews as I go through.
This year's goal is to attempt to read all of Shakespeare's work
COMEDIES All's Well That Ends Well 27/1/22 As You Like It 22/2/22 The Comedy of Errors Cymbeline 1/3/22 Love's Labours Lost Measure for Measure The Merry Wives of Windsor The Merchant of Venice 20/05/22 A Midsummer Night's Dream 18/1/22 Much Ado About Nothing 19/01/22-21/01/22 Pericles, Prince of Tyre Taming of the Shrew 20/06/22-21/06/22 The Tempest 24/04/22-25/04/22 Troilus and Cressida Twelfth Night 5/1/22 Two Gentlemen of Verona Winter's Tale
HISTORIES Henry IV, part 1 Henry IV, part 2 Henry V Henry VI, part 1 Henry VI, part 2 Henry VI, part 3 Henry VIII King John Richard II Richard III
TRAGEDIES Antony and Cleopatra 22/2/22 Coriolanus 23/2/22-28/2/22 Hamlet 4/3/22- 5/3/22 Julius Caesar King Lear Macbeth 08/07/22-10/07/22 Othello Romeo and Juliet 20/05/22 Timon of Athens Titus Andronicus
THE COMPLETE POEMS 154 Sonnets 09/06/22-11/06/22 A Lover's Complaint 26/1/22 The Rape of Lucrece Venus and Adonis A Funeral Elegy 28/1/22 (less)
Well that was a quick read--for Yale’s recently departed Harold Bloom, who could read 400 pages an hour and recall them with his photographic memory. Long ago I vowed to read all of Shakespeare as I thought it would get easier and more rewarding with age. So I recently bought Longman’s door stop because I liked the binding and it includes 200+ pages of commentary by Shakespearean scholar David Bevington. One of my 2020 New Year’s resolutions is to read at least one or two works a year, so I will be gradually adding entries to this review.
“HAMLET” 5 January 2020 I decided to start with “Hamlet” because I just read a biography of John Quincy Adams and it was his favorite work. At 4000 lines, it is Shaekespeare’s longest play. Harold Bloom considers “Hamlet” to be “the most extraordinary single work of Western literature that I have ever read” (2003 PBS interview).
Reading “Hamlet” cold without brushing up on my Elizabethan English made for tough sledding, but my first reward was discovering that my favorite literary quote came from this work: “This above all: to thine own self be true” (1.3). I still can’t appreciate iambic pentameter, but I know a good couplet when I see it: My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (3.4) To my great surprise, neither of these lines are uttered by Hamlet.
I didn’t find Bevington’s supporting commentary to be as enlightening as I had expected, so I then read Bloom’s 17 pages on Hamlet in “How to Read and Why” (2000). Bloom’s final thought is my favorite, “Whether we ourselves expect annihilation or resurrection, we are likely to end caring about our name. Hamlet, the most charismatic and intelligent of all fictive characters, prefigures our hopes for courage at our common end” (p. 217-8).
I concluded my reintroduction to Shakespeare by watching Lawrence Oliver’s wonderful interpretation and modest abbreviation of “Hamlet” (1948). Pure joy. Let me know if you find a better way to spend 2.5 hours on YouTube!
There's special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.
If readiness be all, then this volume is a staple on any bookshelf. Ready to be opened for quick quote checks, ready to be heaved at home intruders (it's really heavy), it is useful in so many ways. It stays open on the window shelf, so the afternoon breeze can choose its special pages. Additionally, there are several sections dealing with Shakespeare's life, the Plague, Elizabethan art, and the people of the Great Poet's time.
The extras are worthwhile. For instance, Tudor London was a genuinely filthy place, but as editor G.B. Harrison makes clear, it was still beautiful in its own way. There was no smog to grime the buildings, half-timbered homes stood on narrow lanes, and the Thames was still clear. The old City was all but wiped out in the Great Fire of 1666. Maybe that's why I love having this huge volume on hand, so I can imagine olden times filled with silver tongues.
Confession: I also use this to come up with the many passwords I need for all of my online apps. That's because the bottom of each page has highlighted words and their meanings. It helps.
Young Frankie in Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes says that "Shakespeare is like mashed potatoes; you can never have too much." It's a compliment both to the poet and the potato, and I agree wholeheartedly. To read the ol' Swan of Avon straight through has, I believe, made me legitimately smarter, and not just in a know-more-stuff-in-my-chosen-profession sense, but in a understand-the-world-around-me sense. Eliot says that Shakespeare and Dante "divided the world between them, and there is no third." So yeah, he's good. Anyway, here's a little something I wrote for the kids in my school's creative writing club:
The Ballad of Billy S.
this is the rule: if you can kill a guy just by dropping someone's "Collected Works" on him, the author is a king
because if we collect your works, it follows that you're good and if you're writing all that much we'll read you (or, we should)
and Ceasars come and Ceasars go but "et tu, Brute?" endures and what has stood time's test must be 'gainst ipads, too, secure.
"it cannot be coincidence" (his chant was like a seer's) "it flows in such easy iambs: The Bard: William Shakespeare."
I started with the plays back in 2010, and then again in 2015. It took me until the end of 2018 to finish all of the plays, and it was quite an amazing journey. I found that I am a sucker for the tragedies but don't often love the comedies. Histories were hit and miss, I loved Henry the Fourth Parts I & II, Henry V and Richard III. In fact, Richard III is in the running for my all time favourite, up there with Macbeth and King Lear. I have a side project to watch adaptations of all the plays, which is taking longer than I thought (some aren't done very often), but it's been a fun experience as well.
After I finished the plays, I took a break from reading Shakespeare. Than in 2019 I thought it was time to finish off the complete works! So I tucked into reading the sonnets and the poems, and the last thing to read was The Phoenix and Turtle (just 1 page!) on April 23rd - Shakespeare's Birthday! It felt like a fitting time to complete the journey.
I abandoned this edition because of the annoying political agenda that permeated introductory articles and explanatory notes. I want an edition that is free from today's ideologies and to enjoy solely the TIMELESS Art of Shakespeare. I hope my new edition based on the First Folio will be more equidistant.
5. AS YOU LIKE IT (p. 401-437) 6 Iul 2015 -
4. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (p. 365-400) 20 Mai 2015 - 24 Mai 2015
3. ROMEO AND JULIET (p. 1251-1294) 26 Feb 2015 - 02 Mar 2015
2. TWELFTH NIGHT (p. 438-473) 13 Feb 2015 - 16 Feb 2015
1. A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (p. 249-284) 17 Nov 2014 - 21 Nov 2014
And so my hypothesis is wrong. I was going to say that my Yale Shakespeare makes Bottom's Dream look like kiddie=play. But, no. Only 1517 pages. Two column. But it is BIG. FAT and TALL and THICK. .....BUT, you'll notice that the 406 editions of the Complete Shakespeare as listed on gr have garnered a total of 45,434 Ratings & 742 Reviews. In other words, there are more people who have read ALL of Shakespeare than are dreamt of in your dreams of slender volumes. Bottom's Dream ain't so bad.....
I binge-read Shakespeare as research for my novel Shakespeare's Twin Sister. And this edition was particularly good for that.
Rereading Shakespeare is like playing a piece of music. The pleasure grows as you learn it, until you can watch it in your mind without looking at the words, like you can play the music without looking at the score and then can hear the music without playing it.