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bad quarto


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A technical term devised by the bibliographer A. W. Pollard to refer to certain early texts of Shakespeare's plays which he believed were not printed from an authoritative manuscript. These include the first quartos of Romeo and Juliet (1597), Henry V (1600), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602), and Hamlet (1603). The theory, forwarded by Pollard, that all these texts were reconstructed from memory by some of the actors is now under attack. Alternative theories are that some or all of them are early versions by Shakespeare, or abbreviations made either for Shakespeare's company or for other companies. There are two new editions including reprints of the early quartos, New Cambridge Shakespeare: the Early Quartos (Cambridge University Press, 1994), and Shakespearean Originals: First Editions (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). Though they have no textual authority they may assist in the effort to establish a true text, especially in their stage directions which sometimes give us our only evidence as to pieces of stage business. Ham. To be, or not to be, I there's the point,To Die, to sleepe, is that all? I all:No, to sleepe, to dreame, I mary there it goes,For in that dreame of death, when wee awake,And borne before an euerlasting Judge,From whence no passenger euer retur nd,The vndiscouered country, at whole fightThe happy smile, and the accursed damn'd.But for this, the joyfull hope of this,Whol'd beare the scornes and flattery of the world,Scorned by the right rich, the rich curssed of the poore?ThePrince of DenmarkeThe widow being oppressed, the orphan wrong'd,The taste of hunger, or a tirants raigne,And thousand more calamities besides,To grunt and sweate vnder this weary life,When that he may his full quietus make,With a bare bodkin, who would this indure,But for a hope of something after death?Which pusles the braine, and doth confound the sence,Which makes vs rather beare those euilles we haue,Than flie to others that we know not of.I that, O this conscience makes cowardes of vs all,Lady in thy orizons, be all my sinnes remembred.Hamlet's ‘To be or not to be …’ as it appeared in the ‘bad quarto’ of 1603.


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