Friday, July 2, 2021

The Complete Shakespeare: Where it All Began for Bardfilm

Shakespeare, William.
The Complete Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare. Ed. William Allan Neilson and Charles Jarvis Hill. Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin Company (The Riverside Press Cambridge), 1942.

The New Cambridge Edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare was the place where it all began.

I don't mean that this was my first experience with Shakespeare. That has been lost to the ages (though I make a stab at some of the earliest encounters here).

I mean that this was the first time I fell head-over-heels, leave-everything-behind, I've-found-it-at-last, I'll-never-forget-you in love with the complete works of Shakespeare.

Thinking reading Shakespeare might prove beneficial to me, I bought the volume for ten dollars at a used bookstore in St. Louis. And I read it, literally, from cover to cover.

Indeed, that was probably the last time I read straight through the sonnets (pictured below).

I found various and sundry people who were willing to read it through out loud with me, and that was a revolution. I distinctly remember my first genuine, conscious encounter with III.i of Hamlet (pictured below):

What marvels were there!

And I read through every play.  Indeed, that was probably the last time I read straight through Henry VIII.

You may note the absence of any annotations on the images above. Yes, that goes for the whole text. At that point, I considered the physical text somewhat sacrosanct, so I did not underline anything or write any question marks or exclamation points or questions or arguments in the margins or on the footnotes. Most of my other editions of Shakespeare plays—complete or individual—have all of that and more. But this was where it all started, and I'm glad it's still there, unmarked, though faded and fraying. I'm still particularly fond of this volume, and I think I shall always be so.

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Cory Howell said...

I have a copy of this edition that's in pretty good shape. A little frayed at the corners of the cover, but otherwise very tight. Your post reminded me that I really don't consult this edition nearly enough! (I wish I could remember where I got my copy...I have absolutely no memory of when I acquired it. Probably at a used bookstore some ten to fifteen years ago...)

kj said...

Thanks, Cory!

I got mine at a place that used to be on Delmar. I can't recall the name, but I'm pretty sure it's where Subterranean Books is now. I bought it with the intention of reading the whole thing. I had no idea how far that would take me.

Take care!

kj (Bardfilm)

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest