Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Book Note: The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio

Smith, Emma. The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio. Oxford, Bodleian Library, 2015.

I've been reading a number of books on the First Folio recently. After all, it won't be long before it celebrates its four-hundred-year anniversary!

Emma Smith's has been the best by far so far. It's meticulously accurate and scholarly—but it's written in a marvelously approachable style.

Having read a lot about the First Folio over the years, I wasn't surprised by too much in the volume, but the narrative is so fascinating—and so clearly and intriguingly articulated by Smith—that I'll be re-reading this book before too long.

One particularly interesting section was the last. In it, Smith considers early readers of F and what sorts of marginalia they deigned to supply. Sample that section—and then track down the book and start it at the beginning.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest