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The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark A Study with the Text of the Folio of 1623   By: (1824-1905)

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First Page:

THE TRAGEDIE OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARKE

A STUDY WITH THE TEXT OF THE FOLIO OF 1623

BY GEORGE MACDONALD

"What would you gracious figure?"

TO

MY HONOURED RELATIVE

ALEXANDER STEWART MACCOLL

A LITTLE LESS THAN KIN, AND MORE THAN KIND

TO WHOM I OWE IN ESPECIAL THE TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF

THE GREAT SOLILOQUY

I DEDICATE

WITH LOVE AND GRATITUDE

THIS EFFORT TO GIVE HAMLET AND SHAKSPERE THEIR DUE

GEORGE MAC DONALD

BORDIGHERA

Christmas , 1884

Summary:

The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: a study of the text of the folio of 1623 By George MacDonald [Motto]: "What would you, gracious figure?"

Dr. Greville MacDonald looks on his father's commentary as the "most important interpretation of the play ever written... It is his intuitive understanding ... rather than learned analysis of which there is yet overwhelming evidence that makes it so splendid."

Reading Level: Mature youth and adults.

PREFACE

By this edition of HAMLET I hope to help the student of Shakspere to understand the play and first of all Hamlet himself, whose spiritual and moral nature are the real material of the tragedy, to which every other interest of the play is subservient. But while mainly attempting, from the words and behaviour Shakspere has given him, to explain the man, I have cast what light I could upon everything in the play, including the perplexities arising from extreme condensation of meaning, figure, and expression.

As it is more than desirable that the student should know when he is reading the most approximate presentation accessible of what Shakspere uttered, and when that which modern editors have, with reason good or bad, often not without presumption, substituted for that which they received, I have given the text, letter for letter, point for point, of the First Folio, with the variations of the Second Quarto in the margin and at the foot of the page.

Of HAMLET there are but two editions of authority, those called the Second Quarto and the First Folio; but there is another which requires remark.

In the year 1603 came out the edition known as the First Quarto clearly without the poet's permission, and doubtless as much to his displeasure: the following year he sent out an edition very different, and larger in the proportion of one hundred pages to sixty four. Concerning the former my theory is though it is not my business to enter into the question here that it was printed from Shakspere's sketch for the play, written with matter crowding upon him too fast for expansion or development, and intended only for a continuous memorandum of things he would take up and work out afterwards. It seems almost at times as if he but marked certain bales of thought so as to find them again, and for the present threw them aside knowing that by the marks he could recall the thoughts they stood for, but not intending thereby to convey them to any reader. I cannot, with evidence before me, incredible but through the eyes themselves, of the illimitable scope of printers' blundering, believe all the confusion, unintelligibility, neglect of grammar, construction, continuity, sense, attributable to them. In parts it is more like a series of notes printed with the interlineations horribly jumbled; while in other parts it looks as if it had been taken down from the stage by an ear without a brain, and then yet more incorrectly printed; parts, nevertheless, in which it most differs from the authorized editions, are yet indubitably from the hand of Shakspere. I greatly doubt if any ready writer would have dared publish some of its chaotic passages as taken down from the stage; nor do I believe the play was ever presented in anything like such an unfinished state. I rather think some fellow about the theatre, whether more rogue or fool we will pay him the thankful tribute not to enquire, chancing upon the crude embryonic mass in the poet's hand, traitorously pounced upon it, and betrayed it to the printers therein serving the poet such an evil turn as if a sculptor's workman took a mould of the clay figure on which his master had been but a few days employed, and published casts of it as the sculptor's work... Continue reading book >>




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