Cymbeline Editions of Cymbeline

It is important to address the fact that a complete reading of a Shakespearean work requires full line-by-line annotation. This ClassicNote has defined much of the archaic and obscure vocabulary present in the play, and has also addressed the numerous allusions, but in a work such as Cymbeline, where any given sentence might give even a practiced Shakespearean pause, additional sources of information are useful, if not required. When the University of Victoria project is completed (see the Related Links section) an Internet version of Cymbeline may be sufficient, but for now, any of the plentiful and cheap editions - Folger, Bantam, Penguin - are more than adequate. Below are descriptions of three editions that are particularly well done:

The Pelican Shakespeare edition, edited by Peter Holland

The Pelican editions are, first of all, very affordable. On top of that, they offer excellent, up-to-date introductions that cover most of the major current questions about a given play. This attention to contemporary issues is refreshing, especially considering that many of the popular editions in circulation today were edited in the fifties or sixties, and often fail to speak to the modern reader's interest in, say, concerns of class, gender, and race. In addition, the Pelican edition is nicely produced and highly readable.

The Signet Classic edition, edited by Richard Hosley

This edition comes bundled with two other seldom-read Shakespeare plays, Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen. It is comparable in price to the Pelican edition, but lacks the Pelican's attention to contemporary issues. Its bibliography, for instance, dates to 1980, and the introduction dates all the way back to the sixties. What makes this edition worthwhile, though, are its supplemental materials. The edition contains two of Shakespeare's probable sources of reference, as well as incisive commentary from numerous critics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a study in criticism, this edition is dated, but very interesting.

The Arden edition, edited by J.M. Nosworthy

There are several pricier editions on the market, all of which have their advantages. The Arden edition is, however, generally acknowledged as the best of these. Nosworthy's edition is dated, but nevertheless a thorough and penetrating study of the play's symbolism, poetry, and textual history.