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The tens of thousands of variants in the three texts of Shakespeare's Hamlet range from the substitution of individual words, by the author or others, to unique blocks of lines in each text. This product is designed to help quickly identify and efficiently analyze textual variants at any level.
The three significant texts of Shakespeare's Hamlet are the 1st Quarto of 1603, the 2nd Quarto of 1604/5, and the text that appeared in the First Folio of 1623. The Folio text is believed to be a refinement of the text of Q2. Most editions of Hamlet are conflations of the Q2 and Folio texts, and many Shakespeare enthusiasts are shocked to learn that key passages are missing from one or the other of Q2 or the Folio text. Most scholars consider Q1 to be the unauthorized printing of an unauthorized abridgment, although this view is challenged periodically. The Q1 text is notable for stage direction not found in Q2 or F, and for its unique positioning of a few key plot elements.
In this edition, the three texts are displayed in modern type in a parallel arrangement. The text of the 2nd Quarto is the control text, and each Q1 vs. Q2 variant appears in blue in the Q1 text. Likewise, each Folio vs. Q2 variant appears in red in the Folio text. Following a period of development and testing, the process of preparing the texts for this publication represented a one-year part-time occupation for the research assistant involved. Since minute particulars can affect scholarly judgment of a textual variant, a parallel set of facsimile texts is provided, facing each page of the modern-type texts, hence 3x2 designation. For example, are the spellings of bragart and dooes the errors of the modern editors, or do the words appear that way in the original publications. This implies a highly limited editorial policy. Original spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have been scrupulously maintained with the exception that reading is made less cumbersome by the elimination of the quaint forms of the letter 's' and the adoption of modern use where i and j or u and v are interchanged.
Stage directing, and most scholarly research, does not require frequent access to a parallel set of facsimiles of the texts as originally printed. For those not requiring the parallel facsimile texts, the alternative of The Hamlet Text Research Stage Director s Edition offers the color-coded modern-type texts, in a 10x16 format, at a lower cost.
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