Advice on a Complete Edition of Shakespeare's Works

Poke around the Internet Shakespeare and see if you find the notes and info useful. It also has facsimiles so you can try reading a scene or two to see how you like it. Here's to be or not to be. I luckily found a Yale facsimilie when I was young and have read the folio almost as long as modernized spellings. So I might be overselling how easy it is to read. And there will be bits that you can't make out. It may be a crux, or a super odd spelling, or a confusing combination of letters used in ways we don't today.

Plus people forget that the Folio was put together by Shakespeare's dear friends and fellow actor/producers. While there's some chaos in the printing shop with different type setters having different skill levels, error rates, and spelling habits, the fact remains that the overseers of the project acted in the plays with Shakespeare. They have an authority no later editors can match. For example, in Macbeth during there's a Folio stage direction "enter hecate and the other three witches". Editors puzzle over this because the three sisters are already on stage, and the new witches don't talk. So it must be an error they say. But there could be any number of stage reasons to want more witches. In a simple stroke, Shax hints at the larger world of witches at seem to be everywhere to the anxious English who executed "witches" at insane rates at the time. They could be there to sing. We can imagine as many reasons for three more witches as against. It's only editorial fashion that makes modern editions cut that stage direction.

Anyway. The folio is great, and honestly even the academically reputable collected works sort of suck. It's just not practical to put the amount of comments that Shakespeare really calls for (even light comments) in a single collected physical binding.

/r/shakespeare Thread Parent