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The First Folio of Shakespeare: The Norton Facsimile
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393039854, Hardcover)Charlton Hinman's facsimile of Shakespeare's First Folio was a colossal achievement when it was first published in 1968, and its reputation is further enhanced by this beautiful second edition. Looking for a way to provide scholars with a reliable version of Shakespeare's text, Hinman invented a device that sped up the collation process, allowing him to compare 82 of the surviving copies of the Folio and bring to light features of Shakespeare's work that have been--and continue to be--edited out of most modern editions. A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example, contains what are known as false starts, fragments of earlier versions of certain speeches. These traces of the composition process survive only because the printers, working directly from Shakespeare's handwritten copy, were not given a chance to thoroughly proofread their work. Though they would make crucial changes during the printing process, it was too wasteful to throw away pages that were already printed. Thus, when they went to bind the Folios, each book contained a fascinating patchwork of corrected and uncorrected copy.
Also hidden beneath the familiar text of the plays is a portrait of the printers who created the book. Their names remain unknown, but Professor Hinman was able to track individuals' work by examining their spelling habits. Their story is as important to this book as the works of literature that it contains. The many errors the printers introduced into the text of Shakespeare's work still provide fertile ground for theatrical and academic debate. Hamlet, for example, wishes that his "too, too solid flesh would melt."--or is it his "sullied" flesh, or perhaps his "sallied" flesh? Which is Shakespeare, and which is an error? We cannot blame the printers; they spent long hours setting page after page of tiny type, working in a cramped space that smelled strongly of the stale urine they used to soften the inking pads. It is ironic that the most revered symbol of English high culture owes its existence--in part, at least--to the productive bladders of a handful of pressmen. This book gives these men their due, demonstrating the extent to which Shakespeare's plays were the work not just of one man but of a whole society.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -0400)
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