Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2007
THE THREE-TEXT HAMLET: PARALLEL TEXTS OF THE FIRST AND SECOND QUARTOS AND FIRST FOLIO
At the beginning, there was the Modern Language Association’s New Variorum Hamlet project. The original team, which began working before 1990, included Paul Bertram as text editor. Almost immediately, he and I realized that having the three early texts of Hamlet in front of us in a compact and legible form would be useful for textual collations as well as commentary notes based on textual variants – the material we were collecting for the variorum edition. Encouraged by the many vital works that AMS Press had made available through its reprints, we approached Gabriel Hornstein, President of AMS, with a plan for publishing a Three-Text Hamlet, which he readily accepted. Though the idea of electronic versions of our new variorum work was very much a part of my original planning, Paul Bertram and I also felt that we needed a book to place by our computers for easy consulting. The flow between paper and electrons is a hallmark of our efforts in all our texts.
The first edition of The Three-Text Hamlet appeared in 1991 and was useful beyond our expectations not only to us but to the many scholars, students, and theatre practitioners who wrote to tell us how much they valued it. Though many of the users had facsimiles of the First Quarto (q1), the Second Quarto (q2) and the First Folio (f1), our book simplified comparing the three texts through the parallel columns in which we arranged them. If we had chosen to model our work on the example of Michael Warren’s excellent Lear books, we might have xeroxed the facsimiles and cut them up to produce the parallel texts, but given the technology available at that time we would not have been able to generate electronic texts from facsimiles.