18th Century

18th Century

1700-1745- The Augustan Period

  Also called Caroline period (after Charles I, King of England and Scotland)

  1. Nicolas Rowe, editor.  Octavo.  The Works of Mr. William Shakespear; Revis’d and Corrected. Rowe, a poet and playwright, is credited with adding act and scene divisions, the list of dramatis personae at the beginning of the text and expanded stage directions. {However, I have encountered research on the early playbooks of The King’s men that indicate that they included a list of dramatis personae with the actors, such as Richard Burbage, listed in the playbooks. (http://www.folger.edu/publishing-shakespeare) See also (Wikipedia).  In Claude C.H. Williamson’s 1950 Readings on the Character of Hamlet 1661-1947 by Routledge (1950, 2005, Digital 2008) Rowe is noted in the preface to have compared Hamlet to Sophocles’ Electra.  Also, Rowe provides significant critical ideology on the nature of Shakespearean tragedy:  “this is to distinguish rightly between horror and terror.  The latter is a proper passion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided.  No Dramatick Writer ever succeeded better in raising terror in the Minds of an audience than Shakespeare has done ”(Nicholas Rowe qtd. In Williamson’s The Character of Hamlet ( 3).    (http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/collections/treasures/the-works-of-mr-william-shakespeare-edited-by-nicholas-rowe-1709.html).
  2. Pretz, editor.  Tragoedia:  Der bestrafte Brudermord oder:  Prinz Hamlet aus Dännemark. https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm.

1711-12.   Thomas Johnson, editor.  “A collection of the best English plays published in the Netherlands in small volumes.” http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~adm6/en3025/listcoll.html).   The edition was compiled in a collection of “greatest hits of the English stage in Holland where the copyright rules did not apply to the Dutch and other European readers.   See Dugas and Hume on “The Dissemination of Shakespeare’s Plays” (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/studies_in_bibliography/v056/56.1dugas.html).

Georgian Britain.  King George succeeds Queen Anne 1714.

1723-25.   Second edition, 1728.  Alexander Pope, editor.  Quarto 6 volumes.   Reissued the Rowe edition.  Pope wrote in preface, “For whatever had been added since those quartos by the actors, or had stolen from their mouths into the written parts, were from thence conveyed into the printed text and all stand charged upon the author.”  He himself complained of this usage in Hamlet where he wishes that those who play clowns would speak no more than is set down for them (Hamlet III.iv).” [Williamson’s  or Richadson’s (?) Character of Hamlet 22).   (Also see notes on Pope’s preface online as posted by David Lynch https://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/pope-shakespeare.html).

That Pope notes a general “religious abhorrence to all manner of innovation “ is noted in his preface to the complete works and that his reverence for Shakespeare lies more in his respect for his role as a “player” that excuses the faults of transmission in his role as poet.  See[24] of the aforementioned link for the following direct quote from Pope in the preface, “This edition is said to be printed from the Original Copies ; I believe they meant those which had lain ever since the Author’s days in the playhouse, and had from time to time been cut, or added to, arbitrarily. It appears that this edition, as well as the Quartos, was printed (at least partly) from no better copies than the Prompters Book or Piece-meal Parts written out for the use of the actors (See full citation from Pope’s edition at http://shakespearebrasileiro.org/en/preface-to-shakespeare-1725-alexander-pope.)

1726-33. Lewis Theobald, editor.  Octavo. THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE IN SEVEN VOLUMES. First Scholarly edition.  Collated quartos, studied sources, and chronology of Shakespeare’s writing career (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16346/16346-h/16346-h.htm).  The front page title reads as follows: THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE IN SEVEN VOLUMES. Collated with the oldest copies, and Corrected; With NOTES, Explanatory, and Critical: By Mr. THEOBALD. I, Decus, i, nostrum: melioribus utere Fatis.  Virg. LONDON: Printed for A. Bettesworth and C. Hitch, J. Tonson, F. Clay, W. Feales,and R. Wellington. MDCCXXXIII. “

“Pope’s edition of Shakespeare was completed by 1725, and in the following year Theobald made the poet his implacable enemy when he issued his Shakespeare Restored, which demolished Pope’s pretensions as an editor by offering some two hundred corrections…”  As Mr. Dick notes in his introduction to the reprint, “the edition, though dated 1733, did not appear until early in 1734…When it did appear, it was plain to all that Theobald’s vindication of himself and his method was complete.”  Theobald begins with a biography of Shakespeare and we learn that Shakespeare was from a family of ten children and that his father was a merchant in the wool business.  He praises the works as if they offered a window into another world, or a “dome” with an elegant variety of characters and stories. He notes that many of Shakespeare’s songs are poached such as the gravedigger song.

Theobald takes his stabs at Rowe and Pope as previous editors of the text. “The mangled Condition of Shakespeare has been acknowledg’d by Mr. Rowe, who publish’d him indeed, but neither corrected his Text, nor collated the old Copies.” A great part of his preface is dedicated to showing off his knowledge of altertumswissenschaft, particularly Greek.  (See reference on Wieland’s translation to investigate Theobald’s editions of 1740,752, 1757, 1762 and 1767). (Gutenberg, Wieland, Shakespeare’s Editors (wikipedia) and Prefaces to Shakespeare at http://shakespearebrasileiro.org/en/preface-to-shakespeare-1725-alexander-pope.)

1743-44. (Sir) Thomas Hanmer’s Oxford edition.  His edition of eighteen volumes, was printed at the Clarendon Press in 1743-44 of Oxford.  As it appeared anonymously it was commonly called the ‘Oxford edition.’  Unfortunately for Hanmer, his anonymity did not survive posterity as he was highly ridiculed by Pope and Warburton in subsequent editions.

The volumes contain nearly 40 illustrations by Hubert Gravelot and Francis Hayman.   His edition, although highly criticized by many, was so well crafted in appearance that the price went up to nine guineas as opposed to Warburton’s edition that went for eighteen shillings. He held public office as speaker of the House of Commons and retired comfortably as a man of letter and office and is known to have been active in maintaining a Protestant successor to Queen Anne.  He relied mainly on the work of Pope and Theobald for his editorial decisions.  He is mocked by Pope who calls him “An eminent person, who was about to publish a very pompous Edition of a great Author, at his own expense”   See also the preface to Warburton’s edition wherein Warburton further degrades Hanmer’s edition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Thomas_Hanmer,_4th_Baronet https://shine.unibas.ch/linksearlyeditors.htm

  1. Piere Antoine de La Place.  Hamlet.   In his collected works of Shakespeare in four volumes, translated into French, Piere de La Place writes a discourse on English theatre, an introduction on the life of Shakespeare and includes ten plays, of which Hamlet is included.  He also includes translations of prefaces by Ben Johnson, Thomas Otway, Edward Young, John Dryden, William Congreve, Nicholas Rowe, Thomas Southerne, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, and John Hughes. He later resumed his work to publish a volume of 26 other works by Shakespeare. (These editors will be added to this bibliography as it evolves,)  He is the descendent of Piere de La Place, a French martyr, who whose corpse was covered with dung and dumped in a river in France just before the birth of William Shakespeare. ( https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Antoine_de_La_Place). https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm

1747. William Warbarton. Editor. Octavo. 8 volumes. The first critical edition and evidence of textual criticism. From his preface we learn of Warburton’s foray into

  1. Alexander Sumarokov. (First Russian translation adaptation). https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  2. Thomas, Edwards, editor.  Published as supplement to Warburton’s edition of Shakespeare. Edwards criticized Warburton and called his edition a collection of the “canons of criticism.”

England’s Seven Years War with France.  1756-1763

1765 -1766.  Samuel Johnson, edited the plays of Shakespeare.  Octavo.  8 volumes.  Famous for its preface on the topic of “variety” in Hamlet. “If the dramas of Shakespeare were to be characterized, each by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety.”  This is poached from Shakespeare, of course, from the epistle in the First Folio. Other important ideas stemming from his preface titled, “Observations on Hamlet” include emendations with comments by Warburton on the language in “To be, or not to be.”

Much thought is given to words that may have been transposed such as assail (for sea of troubles), and “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time” is speculated to have been put down as whips and scorns of tyrants (or title) in Johnson’s comments.   ”Hamlet is, through the whole play, rather an instrument than an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted the King, he makes no attempt to punish him, and his death is at last effected by an incident which Hamlet has no part in producing.”  Johnson’s general note regarding the character of Hamlet is unsympathetic to the heroes plight; for he gives far greater latitude to virtues of Ophelia than the wronged Prince of Denmark: “the gratification which would arise from the destruction of an usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.” http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/hamlet.html and https://shine.unibas.ch/linksearlyeditors.htm .

1765-68.  Edward Capell.  Octavo.  Mr. Shakespeare, His Comedies, Histories, Tragedies 10 Volumes.  Spent 30 years collating quartos.  First editor to make use of stationer’s register and Frances Mere’s Palladis Tamia and to explore sources such as Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles and Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare) Added new material.Scientific criticism of the text begins with Edward Capell. He was the first to base his text actually on the quartos and folio”  His collation of the quartos and folios are often called “the best piece of textual criticism in the eighteenth century”  his method did not show the tremendous amount of work he had put into his edition. http://www.bartleby.com/215/1116.html and  Also Alden T. Vaughn and Virginia Mason Vaughn note in Shakespeare in America (Oxford University Press 2012, Folger Shakespeare Library) that Thomas Jefferson begged a copy of the new Capell edition published in 1768.  So the discrepancy in dates may refer to editions printed abroad and those reprinted in the American colonies.

  1. Christoph Martin Wieland (and Eschenburg?), translator:  prose translation of 22 plays (1762-1777) See Wieland’s Gesammelte Schriften, 2. Abt. Ubersetzungen, hersg. von Stadler, 3 Bde. Berlin, 1909-11.   In a  Modern Language Review (Vol IX, No, 1. Jantjabt 1914) article  titled “Wieland’s Translation of Shakespeare” by F.W. Meisnest for Cambridge University Press we learn of Wieland’s passion for Shakespeare and his quest to translate all Shakespeare’s work.   He disputed Voltaire’s disdain for Shakespeare and praised the genius of Shakespeare as “incomparable.”  Meisnest writes to report this praise and further records the following for the benefit of textual criticism scholars: “ According to Meisnest, Wieland relied on Warburton’s text for his translation; however. Meisnest gives textual evidence that he may have used both Theobald and Johnson in his translation of Hamlet.  It is a convincing argument since Johnson preceded his by almost a year, and Meisnest has found evidence in Hamlet that his translation used the Johnson edition.

Nonetheless, Meisnest points that the Germans were not to be outdone by the French, despite Voltaire’s disdain, in translating the Bard.  “The French had their translation of Shakespeare by La Place, He (Weiland) translated twenty-two dramas, published by Orell, Gessner and Co., Zurich, between 1762 and 1766, in eight volumes.  http://archive.org/stream/wielandstranslat00meis/wielandstranslat00meis_djvu.txt   Original citation for translation at https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm

  1. Jean-Francois Ducis: Hamlet.  French translation. https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  2. Heufeld, Franz.  Translator.  Hamlet. German.  https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  3. George Steevens; octavo, 10 volumes. Steevens employed Johnson’s text, but continued Capell’s trend of adding new material. Steevens revised and re-issued his edition in 1778; in 1780 Edmond Malone added another 2 volumes that contained Shakespeare’s non-dramatic poems and other material. Isaac Reed revised the Steevens edition again in 1785, and Steevens himself produced one final, 15-volume revision in 1793.
  4. Charles Jennens.  Hamlet.

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