Dr. Paul Edmondson, Head of Education, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, talks about the unique qualities of the Oxford Complete Works, and why we should consider it the Shakespeare for our time.
The Oxford Complete Works is a truly ground-breaking edition, offering the most radical rethinking of Shakespeare's texts ever published. Nothing is taken for granted, and it is thoroughly up-to-date.
The texts printed here bring us as close as we shall ever get to the plays as they were acted by Shakespeare's company. Its editors know that Shakespeare, himself a man of the theatre, reworked some of his plays after they were first performed, and for this reason they give us, for example, two different texts of King Lear.
Throughout, they have rethought the stage directions to bring us to a closer understanding of how the plays were originally performed. And this is a supremely reader-friendly edition, applying newly considered principles of spelling, punctuation and other matters of presentation to make a painless and pleasurable reading experience.
The newly published second edition is updated by adding Edward III, which is increasingly accepted as part of the Shakespeare canon, along with a complete text of Sir Thomas More, to which Shakespeare contributed a scene; it also includes an excellent new essay, by David Crystal, on Shakespeare's language, along with an invaluable guide to further reading. Graced by informative and thoughtful introductions that are models of compression, this edition must supplant all its predecessors as the Shakespeare for our time.
Dr. Paul Edmondson, March 2006