Measure for Measure, extracted from the Fourth Folio
Measure for Measure, extracted from the Fourth Folio

SHAKESPEARE, William. Measure for Measure, extracted from the Fourth Folio.

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From the 1685 Fourth Folio.

SHAKESPEARE, William. Measure for Measure, extracted from the Fourth Folio. [London: Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley], [1685].

Folio in sixes; full panelled calf by Bernard Middleton (with his pencil signature) and blind stamp, lettered in gilt on upper board; pp. 55 - 76; a little browning, and occasional staining, paper repair to margin of final leaf.
The complete play of Measure for Measure extracted from a copy of the Fourth Folio edition of the complete works published in 1685. The Fourth Folio was the last of the great 17th century folio editions of Shakespeare's complete plays. It was a reprint of the Third Folio (1663) with corrections and modernizations. The text of this edition is printed in a larger type than the three earlier editions, and more liberally spaced. It was executed on Dutch paper.
Measure for Measure first appeared in the First Folio of 1623. Because the play does not end tragically, it is technically a comedy, but modern critics describe it as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays”, due to its dark content. In it, Shakespeare explores themes of corruption and incorruptability; sin and virtue; the responsibility of civil law; morality and the dichotomy of justice and mercy.
This copy was bound by Bernard Middleton, MBE (1932 - 2019). Middleton trained at the Central School of Art and Design in London and spent many years at the bindery of the British Museum and British Library. He went on to manage Zaehnsdorf, one of the most prestigious binderies in London, and then established his own business. He researched and wrote extensively on the history of bookbinding, producing numerous designer bindings in his lifetime, with commissions from noted collectors, academic institutions and libraries. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1951 and received an MBE in 1986. As is well known, the so-called First Folio edition of Shakespeare's incomparable "Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies" is now practically unobtainable; today even single plays from the First Folio sell in the six-figures: most recently the "Tragedie of Julius Caesar" was offered at Bonhams New York and made $175,000.
It is generally accepted that a garbled sentence during the Duke's opening speech (lines 8-9 in most editions) represents a place where a line has been lost, possibly due to a printer's error. Because the folio is the only source, there is no possibility of recovering it.
See Jaggard p.497. Greg III, p.1119

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