Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays, 1583-1616

Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays, 1583-1616

Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays, 1583-1616

Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays, 1583-1616

Excerpt

Since the book is long, this word should be brief. First, for a guide to its organization. The evidence for my general reconstruction of the conditions affecting the varied practice of act division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays is, as explained in the first chapter, an examination of the bibliographical and textual history of two hundred and thirty-six printed plays which survive from the period 1583-1616. The presentation of the evidence itself, then, fills a considerable number of pages, and were the summaries of the evidence and the general conclusions to which it leads to be placed at appropriate intervals amidst the discussion of the texts themselves, a sense of continuity of argument would be sacrificed. In order to preserve this continuity, therefore, it seemed best to begin with a general discussion of the problems of act division, and to follow this with summaries of the evidence which in turn would then lead to my conclusions and reconstruction. All of this general discussion constitutes Part 1 of the book. The textual and bibliographical examination of each play is presented separately in Part 2, with cross reference notes to keep constant track of its connection with Part 1. There is another reason for this separation into two parts. Since my examination of the textual characteristics of about half of these plays is the only one which has been made, or at least recorded, it seemed that many textual scholars of the period, not necessarily concerned with the specific problem of act division, might find what data I have noted down about each play a starting place for investigations of other matters, or at least a useful reference guide in their own research. Tables have been appended for further ease of reference.

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