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Shakespearean Backache?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:38 PM

I decided to get the complete works of Shakespeare on Amazon a few weeks back. I'll need them eventually for a Shakespeare class, and I thought it might come in handy in the mean time. I read the description, which seemed to indicate it was 2057 pages in two volumes. That sounded alright. It might be a bit of a bear to hall around, but the part about putting it in two volumes seemed like a good idea.

It pays to read descriptions carefully.

As it turns out, that was the description for the more expensive version of the Riverside Shakespeare, not the one I ordered. I had the Amazon box sitting on the couch for the last week, and finally decided to open it up today. When I opened it, I quickly realized that it was not in two volumes. This thing is a monster. It is nearly a foot tall and 2/3 of the same in width. It is the better part of three inches thick, and must weigh about the same as a Ford Explorer. Or perhaps a Hummer. And speaking of cars, this book would be an ideal way for the local junkyard to crush old cars — of course, not much would be left after the collision. Not much left of the car, I mean — the book would certainly survive.

I thought about sending it back and ordering the $20 more expensive version that divides things into two volumes, but I think I've thought better of it. This is just a book that won't be traveling with me. If I need to carry the bard's works around, I shall get a single play at a time from Dover Thrift Editions. At a buck fifty a piece, its hard to imagine a better deal than Dover's republications of classic works.

Speaking of which, I ordered one of those too. I decided I needed my own personal copy of one of my favorite works, Voltaire's Candide. That's truly a delightful satire that I was sad to say I did not possess a copy of. I do now. For $3.00 (including a $1.50 handling fee for Amazon to get it from Dover — I'm not sure what that was about), I now own my very own copy. If that isn't “the best of all possible worlds,” it certainly is close enough. I'm sure Dr. Pangloss would agree.

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