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Monday, 12 April 2021

Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare - Oxford School Shakespeare

Romeo & Juliet
Oxford School Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Roma Goll (Editor)
ISBN 9780198321668
eISBN 9780199137602
ASIN B007JGPJNQ
 

Some might wonder why write a review of Romeo and Juliet. For who does not know about the story of the two star crossed lovers and their fate. And it would be a good question to ask. I have always enjoyed Shakespeare, to read, to listen to, and to watch. My 14-year-old daughter is reading this in grade 9 English. So, I got the eBook of the same edition she was reading to read along with her. I realized I have only read a single play in the last few years, and it has been over a decade since I had read a Shakespeare play. So this review will be more about this edition than the story itself. 

The description of this edition is:

“Oxford School Shakespeare is an acclaimed edition especially designed for students, with accessible on-page notes and explanatory illustrations, clear background information, and rigorous but accessible scholarly credentials. This edition of Romeo and Juliet includes illustrations, preliminary notes, reading lists (including websites) and classroom notes. Romeo and Juliet is a set text for KS3 in England, and remains one of the most popular texts for study by secondary students the world over.”

And depending on where you check it is based on either 1982 or 2009 edition. With the eBook version releasing in 2012. There are some features I like and some I do not about this edition. When I was in school the main versions in use were the Signet Classic, Pelican Classic or the Penguin Classic versions. The chapters as they appear in this volume are:

Introduction
 About the Play
 Leading Characters in the Play
 Synopsis
 Romeo and Juliet: Commentary
 Shakespeare’s Verse
 Source, Text, and Date

Characters in the Play

The Prologue

Act 1
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 2
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5
 Scene 6

Act 3
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 4
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3
 Scene 4
 Scene 5

Act 5
 Scene 1
 Scene 2
 Scene 3

Extracts from Romeus and Juliet

Background
 England in 1597
 Government
 Religion
 Education
 Language
 Drama
 Theatre

William Shakespeare, 1564–1616

Approximate Dates of Composition of Shakespeare’s works

Exploring Romeo and Juliet in the classroom
 Ways into the Play
 Setting the Scene
 Keeping Track of the Action
 Characters
 Themes
 Shakespeare’s Language
 Exploring with Drama
 Writing about Romeo and Juliet

Further Reading and Resources

The features and section before the play and after are awesome. Way more background than any other edition I have read. And much more than the versions we read in school back in the 1980’s. It is an excellent learning edition from that perspective. What I found frustrating with this edition was the sheer volume of footnotes. Most scenes have over 100 footnotes and the highest Act 5 Scene 3 had over 300. It was ludicrous, and frustrating while reading. Especially in the eBook edition have to copies of the play one with footnotes and one without. They broke up the text so much. 

I have read many different editions of Shakespeare’s plays over the years. And have a beautiful hard bound collection of his complete works. I found this specific edition one of the worst for reading the play. And one of the best for supplemental material. For the price I would pick up this edition in eBook for the next one that one of my kids read in school. But I would only read before and after the play in this edition, and find a better version for just reading the play.

5 stars for the academic material, and 1 star for the play formatting.

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