Series Editor: Joseph Pearce


Read. Think. Repeat.

Ignatius Critical Editions give you and your students the tools to dig into classic works. How?

Ignatius Critical Editions feature the editorial and critical work of a number of great scholarly commentators. (You can see a few of them by clicking here.) Below are some excerpts from critical essays that are illuminating, exciting, and engaged in dialogue with modern thought without kowtowing to it.

King Lear

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One may contemplate the bleak, terrible close of King Lear and find a depiction of man as "a poor, bare, forked animal" unaccountably lost in a blind, meaningless swirl of matter and energy. This is the Lear of materialist skepticism and existential despair. Or one may find in the grief of its heart-rending catastrophe the vision of a world in which Cordelia and all that she represents cannot survive because Redemption has not yet come.

from "King Lear: An Introduction" by R. V. Young


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For instance, before a large audience, Glaswegian chemist Andrew Ure inserted a large number of electrified rods into the body of a recently hanged murderer ... inducing violent movement of the legs, the appearance of breathing, and a range of grimaces .... Finally the corpse was made to "point" to members of the audience, many of whom feared that it had come to life.

from "'The Spark of Life': The Science behind Frankenstein" by Jo Bath

Wuthering Heights

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... J. Hillis Miller, a deconstructionist critic, claims that the "repetition in difference" is a way of preserving the life of the first half into the second as a later incarnation or haunting. We should recall, however, that Brontë is only one of many authors who from time immemorial have used repetitions of plot elements and characters to create symmetries or to mirror reversals in their stories. Medieval writers knew this technique as ... annulation (forming rings), and used it extensively — for example, the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes use annulation as a structuring principle.

from "Compassion and Condemnation in Wuthering Heights: Materialism, Christianity, and the Occult" by Theresa M. Kenney


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But in the last appearance of the Ghost — who has been in Purgatory all day for several months — his concern is with the soul of his spouse, and if his earlier love for her face was mixed with his own satisfaction, he is now beyond the possibility of that: his love for her has become amor amicitiae, for a higher good than the earthly being and happiness of his wife; his concern is for her "fighting soul", and for that he has come back from the very grave one final time.

from "Psychology, Character, and Performance in Hamlet" by Gene Fendt

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Fear is swallowed up in self-reproach which, according to Newman, is "directed and limited to our mere sense of what is fitting and becoming". Conscience, in other words, degenerates into "mere self-respect". Dorian, as a result, finds himself unable to fulfill "his duty to confess" to "a God who called upon men to tell their sins".

from "The Voice(s) of Conscience" by Dominic Manganiello

Pride and Prejudice

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For Mr. Collins, "clergyman" means "one who occupies a respected a role in society", and that is all. The depth of his Christian convictions can be ascertained from the remarkable letter he writes ... urging Mr. Bennet to forgive [one of his children], yes, but to "throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offense."

from "The Grace of Inequality " by Anthony Esolen

The Merchant of Venice

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However, anyone who assumes Shakespeare interpreted life exactly like people centuries later deserves exactly what Arragon got: "the portrait of a blinking idiot". Though breathtakingly brilliant in both word and thought, Shakespeare was nevertheless molded by the assumptions and values of his own culture — as are we all.

from "Reading The Merchant of Venice" by Crystal Downing

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe issues a subtle but clear critique of journalism, implicating not only its producers but also its readers: passive men who, like Senator Bird and Augustine St. Clare, treat their newspaper not as an entry into the world but as a refuge from it.

from "Harriet Beecher Stowe's Investigative Fiction" by Mark Canada


Books by Author

by last name, except for Wm. Shakespeare

St. Augustine of Hippo

Charlotte Brontë

Emily Brontë

Stephen Crane

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Herman Melville

John Henry Newman

Mary Shelley

Bram Stoker

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Jonathan Swift

Mark Twain

Coming Soon

by release date, then as above

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250–749 51%
750+ 52%

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Everyday Benefits

What makes each Ignatius Critical Editions title a resource for teachers? Besides the above, here are a few practical, everyday things that will make teaching a fuller and more manageable experience.

Why Traditional Criticism?

Tradition is the extension of Democracy through time; it is the proxy of the dead and the enfranchisement of the unborn.

Tradition may be defined as the extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

G. K. Chesterton
(read the full quote in our mission statement)