Oppidan Library publishes Shakespeare's First Folio on CD.

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Oppidan Library has completed a new rendition of Shakespeare's First Folio, and made it available on CD. This edition is a scan of 30 of the best preserved copies of this historic volume, rendered in original spelling and syntaxt.

Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories & Tragedies

Salt Lake City – March 29, 2005 (PRWEB) March 29, 2005

The First Folio of William Shakespeare has been re-published as ASCII text, on CD, by Oppidan Library.

The 1623 publication entitled "Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories & Tragedies" has come to be known as the "First Folio" of William Shakespeare. The First Folio is comprised of approximately 900 pages containing 36 of Shakespeare's plays. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays. Subsequent publishers used the First Folio as the basis of their editions of Shakespearean plays.

William Shakespeare's fellow actors, John Hemminge and Henry Condell, edited the original First Folio collection. The plays were categorized by Hemminge and Condell as Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. They, no doubt, had copies of the plays in the form of scripts, from which the content of the First Folio originated. Not one manuscript written by William Shakespeare has survived.

The printer and publisher of the First Folio was William Jaggard and his son Isaac with Ed. Blount. Approximately 500 copies of the 'First Folio' were printed and sold at the price of £1 for each copy. Approximately 238 known copies exist today.

There are many variations to the text of many early editions of Shakespeare's plays. Eighteen of the William Shakespeare plays exist in earlier editions, eight of which are extremely corrupt, possibly having been reconstructed from an actor's memory or from rough drafts. Printers of that day also made changes to appeal to potential customers, paying little concern to the author's views on any changes.

The art of printing has changed significantly through the centuries. Part of the interest - and challenge - associated with reading Elizabethan Era texts is created by the spellings. Many of the spelling errors contained in the First Folio can be attributed to the technology of printing in that era. For example here are the first few lines of Hamlet, as they are presented in the First Folio:

Barnardo. Who's there?

Fran. Nay answer me: Stand & vnfold your selfe

Bar. Long liue the King


Printers often ran out of certain words or letters they had often packed into a "cliche". Being unwilling to unpack the cliches, some substitutions were liberally made, such as the exchanges of u for v, v for u, above. Presuming Shakespeare did not actually write the play in this manner, the explanation for these spelling errors is that the printer probably packed "liue" into a cliche at a time when they were out of "v"'s possibly having used "vv" in place of some "w"'s, etc.

Many "scholars" have an extreme attachment to these errors, and many have accorded them a very high place in the "canon" of Shakespeare. Shakespeare most likely did not write in nearly as many of a variety of errors we credit him for, even though he was in/famous for signing his name with several different spellings.

The text of the First Folio presented by Oppidan Library was scanned from 30 original copies of Shakespeare's First Folio and it is an exact rendition of that text, given the limitations of ASCII formatting.

There are textual differences between various copies of the first folio. According to David Reed, Chief Editor at Oppidan Library, these variations are due to the original printer's habit of setting the type and running off a number of copies and then proofing the printed copy and correcting the type and then continuing the printing run. The proof run wasn't thrown away but incorporated into the printed copies.


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D.S. Brown
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