Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 163. Monday, 6 July 1992.
Date: Monday, July 6, 1992, 08:44:01 -0400
Subject: The New Folger Shakespeare
I wanted to take a moment to notice, and applaud, the availability of the
New Folger Shakespeare. With a freshly edited text and with all-new
introductions and afterwords -- but with the same pleasing layout and
wonderful illustrations -- this looks like a delightful extension of the
Gone are the "rooms in the palace" and the "other parts of the field";
present are half-brackets, like those in the Oxford edition, to signal
editorial changes to the copy-text. Stage-directions have in some cases
been supplemented to point the text -- perhaps intrusive for those who want
the "thing itself," but invaluable for someone who lacks experience in
noting the action-hints in the dialogue. Speech prefixes have been fully
expanded. The essays on Shakespeare's life and stage have been completely
rewritten, and there is now an essay on "Reading Shakespeare's Language"
that lays out, briefly and lucidly, where the major traps are.
The Folger Shakespeare is obviously not a tool for the serious scholar;
while it has a few pages of textual notes, it lacks extended discussions of
rationales and variants. But for new readers, it's hard to imagine a more
I have always had a real fondness for this edition; when I was 15, it was
my first real contact with Shakespeare. The only other version I knew was
an old weather-beaten copy of the Globe text in red simulated leather on my
parents' bookshelf. I tried reading "The Tempest" in that edition, and gave
up. The Folger unlocked the door for me as it probably has for thousands of
other high-school students.
That Pocket Books/Washington Square Press would think there's money in it
is, by itself, cause for celebration.
I ran across a copy of *Julius Caesar* in a Waldenbooks at a local mall.
According to the end-papers, about six plays -- the ones most often taught
in high school -- will be available by mid-July.