The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1418 Wednesday 11 August 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 23:13:38 +0100
Subject: 10.1406 Q: Routledge First Folio
Comment: RE: SHK 10.1406 Q: Routledge First Folio
A couple of years ago on this list I asked about F facsimiles. You can
find the discussion in the SHAKSPER archives. The consensus of the list
then was that there is no substitute for the Norton.
I've seen the Routledge facsimile and I don't recommend it. It's a
reprint of Halliwell-Phillipps' facsimile from the 19th century. It
seemed to me to have been manually altered in places, presumably where
the photos didn't turn out well. Nothing exceptional about that (even
today magazines and newspapers alter photographs, using software) but it
kind of defeats the point of having a facsimile. Louis Marder pointed
out in the last discussion, on Fredson Bowers' authority, that as
recently as 1955, the Yale facsimile was manually altered after they saw
how the photos turned out. Some of the introductory material in the
Routledge seemed distinctly dodgy to me: I recall that at one point in
the Introduction, the reader is told that when compositors had set too
much type on a page, some of it had to be disposed of, and this disposal
process was known as casting-off!
Even without these defects, you should consider whether you would be
able to use any facsimile other than the Norton for scholarly purposes.
You could hardly quote from it in your work, not just because of the
absence of TLN, but because the Norton has (deservedly) become the
standard to such an extent that it's no exaggeration to say that when
scholars talk of 'the Folio of 1623' they usually mean 'the Folio of
In sum, there is no substitute for the Norton. The fact that Routledge
bothered to put out a clearly inferior product should tell the Norton
marketing people that there is a market out there that they have priced
themselves out of.