The First Quarto of Hamlet

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 13, 1999 - Drama - 144 pages
The first quarto of Hamlet is radically different from the second quarto and Folio versions of the play, and about half their length. But despite its uneven verbal texture and simpler characterisation, the first quarto presents its own workable alternatives to the longer texts, reordering and combining key plot elements, and even including a unique scene between Horatio and the Queen. This new critical edition is designed for students, scholars and actors who are intrigued by the first printed text of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Although the first quarto has been reprinted many times, there is no other modernised edition in print. Irace's introduction outlines views of its origins, its special features, and its surprisingly rich performance history; her textual notes point out differences between the first quarto and the longer second quarto and Folio versions and offer alternatives which actors or directors might choose for specific productions.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Revision
2
Memorial reconstruction
5
Theatrical adaption
7
Special features of QI Hamlet
8
Plot
11
Characters
12
Staging
17
Note on the text
28
List of characters
32
THE PLAY
35
Textual notes
94
Possible actors addictions in Q1 only
115
Couplets partly or wholly unique to Q1
117
Q1 plot outline in relation to Riverside Q2F
119
Relineation
121

Q1 in performance
20

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About the author (1999)

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

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