Much to do before Christmas
December 5, 2006 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Who prints the nicest editions of individual Shakespeare plays?

I want to get my ex (with whom I am good friends, miraculously) a copy of "Much Ado About Nothing" for Christmas - she *is* Beatrice.

Where might I find a really nice edition?

Additionally, any suggestions for further, tied-in gifts?

Thanks very much.
posted by godawful to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
Best answer: Oxford prints a very nice set of Shakespeare which is broken into single-play volumes, which you could probably find. It's gray and clothbound, and has the benefit of being one of the best versions of the text that I can find, with unobtrusive, helpful commentary.
posted by koeselitz at 2:41 PM on December 5, 2006

If you'r talking paperbacks, then I really love the Arden Shakespeare edition of any play because I think the footnotes are great in the Arden. If you are talking hard back . . . apparently they are a little pricey. There is, of course, the DVD, if she likes the Branagh version; a potted plant to hide behind; a lute; a book of bad poetry; masks and/or disguises; witty repartee.

It's sort of easier to do just "Shakespeare related" gifts, like this jewelry, which I think is fun.

For what it's worth, I think putting this kind of effort and thought in will win you points even if the gifts are weird.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:46 PM on December 5, 2006

The Oxford Shakespeare series are very good if she's interested in the play. They're very detailed, have hundreds of footnotes about the historical significance of some words, the changing interpretations of others, etc. If she is going to be in the play, or wanted to learn more about it, then Oxford is the way to go.

If you just want one that looks nice though, and she already knows the play, then I guess it'd come down to whether you think she'd prefer a nice serious leather bound one, or a pretty and colourful illustrated one.
posted by twirlypen at 2:50 PM on December 5, 2006

What do you mean by "nice"? Do you mean "lovely to look at"? Or do you mean "useful"? Or do you mean both? Or neither? "Nice" is a poor adjective to describe what you're after.

Personally, I've always preferred the old Washington Square Press editions. They're compact paperbacks with the text of the play on one page, and illumination (footnotes, art, etc.) on the facing page. These editions also feature good introductions, etc. To me, these are the "nice"-est editions.

But they don't look nice.
posted by jdroth at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2006

The ones jdroth is talking about are usually called the New Folger Library editions (although they are published by the WSP). They are definitely my favorite editions -- but they're paperbacks under $10. It'd be good as part of a larger gift if she were going to play Beatrice, but I don't think that's what you mean. These editions are great for study, but they won't work as fancy, beautiful gifts.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:59 PM on December 5, 2006

Where might I find a really nice edition?

Try calling local rare book stores, or search Bookfinder for hardback editions and then scroll through the results in your price range.
posted by mediareport at 8:17 PM on December 5, 2006

which editions have the best annotations?
posted by kensanway at 11:01 PM on December 5, 2006

seconding the Arden for the endnotes and the introductory essays etc.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:58 AM on December 6, 2006

Arden makes the best texts to wear out with pencil-marks and dog-ears, but not the best to give as a present. Look for an old hard-bound text. Or if you're feeling creative, use the facsimile PDF on this site or the playtexts here, and bind it yerself.
posted by holgate at 4:48 AM on December 6, 2006

I'm in the Arden camp. The only fault with them is that the covers tend to be butt-ugly. Also, I think Arden 2 (the last lot of editions they put out) are better editions than Arden 3 (the current lot), but maybe that's just me.

The Oxford Complete Works takes awful liberties with the text; hope they're using different editors for the individual plays.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:00 PM on December 6, 2006

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