Hamlet: An Authoritative Text, Intellectual Backgrounds, Extracts from the Sources, Essays in Criticism

Front Cover
Norton, 1992 - Drama - 297 pages
This revised Norton Critical Edition of one of the series' most widely read texts is based on the second quarto (1604-05). Where necessary, the editor has also drawn from the folio text, recording all departures from the quarto in the Textual Notes. Punctuation and stage directions for the play have been refined, and textual annotations have been revised and expanded. The Intellectual Backgrounds and Extracts from the Sources sections, both highly praised, remain as germane as ever. Intellectual Backgrounds includes important readings on melancholy, demonology, the nature of man, and death, including works by Peter de la Primaudaye, Timothy Bright, Lewes Lavater, G. Gifford, Michel de Montaigne, and Heironymous Cardanus. Extracts from the Sources provides pre-Shakespearean accounts of the story of Hamlet, reprinting substantial excerpts from Saxo Grammaticus's Historia Danica and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques. Criticism has been revised to accommodate the most significant recent interpretations of Hamlet while retaining the seminal essays of the First Edition. Twenty-three critical analyses are featured, including those by Samuel Johnson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt, A. C. Bradley, D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, G. Wilson Knight, C. S. Lewis, Harry Levin, Peter J. Seng, Rebecca West, Arnold Kettle, Margaret W. Ferguson, Jacqueline Rose, and William Empson. An updated Selected Bibliography is also included.

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User Review  - nmhale - LibraryThing

Hamlet shouldn't need a synopsis, as most Western readers have been exposed to the story in some form or other. Although, honestly, people might be more familiar with some of its most memorable quotes ... Read full review

Nice edition

User Review  - neverreviewed - Overstock.com

I bought this for my daughters AP Lit class. The Norton edition was the one recommended by her teacher. She liked having Kenneth Branagh on the cover too. Read full review

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About the author (1992)

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

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