Four Great Tragedies

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Signet Classic, 1998 - Drama - 592 pages
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The greatest tragic plays of William Shakespeare--including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth.

What is tragedy? The Elizabethans defined it as a "lofty" play showing "personages of great state" caught up in a "lamentable" action that "beginneth prosperously and endeth unfortunately." Whether judged by this or any other standard, the plays selected for this collection are considered to be the four central works of Shakespearean tragedy and must be included in any list of the world's finest tragic literature. And to make these plays more accessible for the modern reader, this edition includes the following special features:

Reliable texts by noted Shakespeare scholars
Texts printed in the clearest, most readable type
Names of each speaker given in full
Detailed footnotes at the bottom of each page keyed to the numbered lines of the text
Textual notes
Updated bibliography

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About the author (1998)

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford's grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare's theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which was renamed the King's Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare's poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare's plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays includeHenry VIandTitus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard IIall date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Ot

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