The Oxford Shakespeare: Richard II

ISBN : 9780198186427

William Shakespeare; Anthony B. Dawson; Paul Yachnin
320 Pages
143 x 223 mm
Pub date
Aug 2011
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  • The accessible and wide-ranging introduction discusses the historical circumstances surrounding the play, covering the period that it dramatizes - the beginnings of the "wars of the roses "- and the period in which it was written - late Elizabethan England - and analyses the play's political significance both in its own time and in our own
  • Extensive commentary helps the reader to better appreciate the language, characters, and action
  • Detailed and careful analysis of textual issues shows how the text was transmitted
  • Lively illustrations provide a sense of the historical background and helps bring to life the play as it has been performed over the years

Written in 1595, Richard II occupies a significant place in the Shakespeare canon. It marks the transition from the earlier history plays dominated by civil war and stark power to a more nuanced representation of the political conflicts of England's past where character and politics are inextricably intertwined. Deftly combining history with tragedy, its tale of bad government and usurpation had great political immediacy for its first audiences in late Elizabethan England and continues to resonate today. This scholarly but student-friendly edition features a freshly edited version of the text based on the early quartos and first Folio of 1623. The thorough set of textual notes and full commentary are designed to aid the modern reader to better understand and appreciate the language, the characters, and the dramatic action. The introduction places the play squarely in its own time, describing its topical significance and its political perspectives, and showing how carefully Shakespeare positioned his play within an ongoing political conversation. Together with this historical perspective, the introduction focuses as well on the play's richly poetic language and its great success over the centuries as a play for the stage.


List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and References
Note on the Text
Richard II

About the author: 

William Shakespeare

Edited by Anthony B. Dawson, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia, and Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies, McGill University
Anthony Dawson is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. An editor, theatre historian, and literary critic, he has published widely on Shakespeare and the early modern theatre.
Paul Yachnin 
is Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Chair of English at McGill University. In April 2008, he was elected President of the Shakespeare Association of America. He directs the Making Publics Project and co-directs the McGill Shakespeare and Performance Research Team. He is the founder of the McGill Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas. He has undertaken editorial projects including the Oxford edition of The Works of Thomas Middleton and The Tempest (Broadview Press, forthcoming; with Brent Whitted). Recent books include Shakespeare and the Eighteenth Century, with Peter Sabor; Shakespeare and Character: Theory, History, Performance, and Theatrical Persons, with Jessica Slights; and Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: People, Things, Forms of Knowledge, with Bronwen Wilson.

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