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IV - BIBLIOGRAPHICAL LINKS BETWEEN THE THREE PAGES AND THE GOOD QUARTOS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

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Summary

When my attention was first seriously directed to the problem of the More Addition, I had already, at Mr Pollard's suggestion, undertaken a bibliographical enquiry into the nature of the ‘copy’ used for the Good Shakespearian Quartos, with a view to discovering if possible something about the character of Shakespeare's manuscripts. At the best, the first edition of one of Shakespeare's plays was printed direct from his autograph; and Mr Pollard has happily shown us reason for believing that this best occurred more frequently than has hitherto been suspected. At the worst, it was printed from a transcript of the original. Yet even if this worst were found to account for most of the quarto productions, such a situation need not lead us to despair. It is exceedingly unlikely that a copyist would obliterate all traces of Shakespeare's penmanship in making his transcript; and the presence of a copyist simply means that two men stand between the printed text and the original instead of one, viz. the compositor. Indeed, the fact that some of the Bad Quartos, which are almost certainly based in part upon transcripts from an original manuscript, occasionally exhibit passages closely resembling their counterparts in the Good Quartos, in punctuation, spellings or misprints, goes to show that Shakespeare's pen could still influence the printed page, even after the lines of his verse had passed through two heads other than his own.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010
First published in: 1967

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