New Oxford

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.176  Friday, 28 April 2017


From:        Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 26, 2017 at 3:04:04 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: New Oxford


Re: New Oxford

There are pluses and minuses to all the available editions of Shakespeare. For most of my career, I used the Riverside, in part because of its excellence, in part out of loyalty to Gwynne Evans, who was my thesis adviser. When it went out of print, I tried “The Wadsworth Shakespeare” for a while—really a reprint of the Riverside 2nd edition. But because of the price and because the edition was nearly 20 years old, I looked for a replacement and, like Peter Hadorn, ended up with the Bevington.

Of the available editions, Bevington’s Complete Works of Shakespeare seems to me the best suited for undergraduate students in terms of readability, annotation, introductory materials and appendices, and the size, shape, and weight of the book. There are things I like about other editions. But, at least for the foreseeable future, I’ll be sticking with Bevington.

Best wishes,


Bruce Young


Podcast on Shakespeare and Counterfactural Thinking

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.175  Friday, 28 April 2017


From:        Neema Parvini <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 28, 2017 at 5:53:37 AM EDT

Subject:    Podcast on Shakespeare and Counterfactural Thinking


What would Hamlet be like if we didn’t already know what was going to happen? What would the play look like if we only knew what Hamlet knew? Neema talks to Amir Khan (Missouri State University) whose book Shakespeare in Hindsight: Counterfactual Thinking and Shakespearean Tragedy helps us think about exactly these sorts of questions.


Vickers' Review of New Oxford and Norton3 Shakespeares

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.174  Wednesday, 26 April 2017


From:        Brian Vickers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2017 at 2:12:00 PM EDT

Subject:    Reply to Egan




Gabriel Egan is quite correct: I am always prepared to change my mind when I have good reason to do so. Who knows, one day I might come to see Gabriel as a widely-read scholar, with a fine literary sensibility, who abjures ad hominem controversy and always discusses major issues in a non-partisan way. Stranger things have happened.



Brian Vickers




From TLS: Introductory Editorial Comments on Shakespeare Edition

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.170  Wednesday, 26 April 2017


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Subject:    From TLS: Introductory Editorial Comments on Shakespeare Edition


[Editor’s Note: This week’s TLS highlights articles about Shakespeare. A few days ago, with his permission, I published Brian Vickers’ Review of New Oxford and Norton3 Shakespeares. Today, I publish three other articles from that edition: One, a free offering, in its entirety and two in excerpts. Below is the Editor’s, Stig Abell, Introduction to the edition.


APRIL 19, 2017


In this week’s TLS


It is odd, really, the extent to which we feel that William Shakespeare needs defending. And yet there is no other writer who combines such otherworldly greatness with such obvious vulnerability (biographical, textual, interpretative).


Shakespeare left neither a definitive life-story nor (more crucially) a set of authorized texts behind him. He simply bequeathed to civilization its most wonderful literary achievement and thus a morbid amount of curiosity that continues unsated to this day.


Into the absence has stepped – with more or less good intentions – a cavalcade of editors and critics and biographers seeking to define the man and his work. Such a task is by its very nature quixotic (a term with its origins in Shakespeare’s own age, of course) in that it can never be concluded. Brian Vickers has reviewed two “new” Shakespeares this week: the Oxford and the Norton. The former is the more radical – most radically of all suggesting that Christopher Marlowe (and an anonymous third writer) had a hand in collaborating with Shakespeare on the Henry VI plays.


Caution is required on both sides of the ensuing debates. On the one hand, the work of Shakespeare was always messy and organic, contingent on the requirements of the playhouse, and redolent of a time when notions of authorship were not as sacrosanct as they are today. Shakespeare the collaborator is a historical fact, not a troubling assertion. On the other hand, we must beware the acts of cultural vandalism masquerading as innovation, or of editorial egotism seeking to overshadow its subject.


The New Oxford Shakespeare has the laudable aim to “provide the most and best Shakespeare ever available”. It has done so by diluting Shakespeare’s involvement in the plays, nearly two-fifths of which are judged to be collaborations. It is not possible to say, at this stage, which and how many of its attributions are correct. Vickers diagnoses, though, a case of “Shakespeare envy, an odd mixture of acknowledging his greatness while attempting to whittle away at the canon or introduce foreign bodies”.


We can at least all concur about the greatness of the work. Victoria Rimell sees new productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra in Stratford-upon-Avon, combining to form “a new vista on the epic arc of political tragedy”: the first century BC refracted through the prism of the sixteenth century to be displayed in the twenty-first. Emma Smith experiences afresh the chill of The Winter’s Tale, reinterpreted with its “random savagery” on the Barbican stage. Whatever interpretation we give to Shakespeare, custom can never stale his infinite variety, as someone once nearly said.


Stig Abell




New Oxford

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.173  Wednesday, 26 April 2017


From:        Peter T Hadorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2017 at 12:28:57 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Q: New Oxford


Regarding the New Oxford Shakespeare.  When I was at the SAA meeting a few weeks ago I took a closer look because I will be ordering a new text for next Spring.  My Riverside is wearing out!


I will not be ordering the Oxford.  I did like the size of the book.  I was also concerned that the pages, like the Norton edition’s, would be too thin, but I didn’t think they were.  I liked the feel and the look of the book.  But my students need a fair amount of glosses and I found the ones in the Oxford to be too few to be useful (on the other hand, I think the Norton over does it considerably: their notes and introductions are excessive!).

A couple of months ago when I asked for a desk copy of the Oxford, I was sent an e-text.  In my limited use of this version, I liked what I saw, but with one serious exception.  Since I am currently working on the sonnets I went there first.  I went to the T of C, typed in the page number I found, and immediately was sent to the sonnets.  So far so good.  But if I wanted to go to a particular sonnet, I had to keep clicking next page.  I did not check to see how this would work with individual plays: so if I ask my class to turn to Act 5, scene 3 are we going to have to keep clicking next page?  Also, why not have a complete sonnet on the page?  Don’t break them up!  Finally, and a deal breaker for me: as Brian Vickers notes, the introductions are now replaced with a smattering of quotations (I’m still not sure how I feel about that).  But as I read through their four pages of quotations regarding the sonnets, I kept waiting to see what they would select from Stephen Booth.  No one has done more to change how we read the sonnets than Stephen Booth.  His edition of the sonnets and his “Essay” are essential.  And there was not one quotation by him to be found (nor any from Vendler, for that matter).  Frankly, I see this as an intentional slight. 

The additional books I thought were more geared towards the scholar.  With my brief look at them I did not think they would be useful for the student, and, with our limited library funds, too expensive!

Since there is no sense that a new Riverside is coming out anytime soon, I will probably go with the Bevington; I see that Stephen Booth is on the editorial board!

I hope these limited thoughts are of some help.



University of Wisconsin-Platteville




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