Ben Jonson - Vol. 4

Ben Jonson - Vol. 4

Ben Jonson - Vol. 4

Ben Jonson - Vol. 4

Excerpt

The authoritative text for the Jonson plays printed in this volume is the Folio of 1616. It has been collated with the earlier Quartos and the Folio of 1640, and with the chief later texts. The following copies of the 1616 Folio have been collated: two copies in the British Museum, viz. the copy on large paper in the Grenville collection and the copy with press-mark C. 39. k. 9; two copies in Bodley, viz. the Douce copy (Douce I. 302) and the copy with pressmark A.A. 83. Art.; the copy in the library of Oriel College; and two copies in the possession of the editor. Full use has been made of Professor Bang's reprint in the Materialien zur Kunde des älteren englischen Dramas. Jonson himself read the proofs of this copy; all corrections that we have been able to trace are recorded in the critical apparatus.

This Folio was reprinted, with a few changes of reading, in 1640. Two copies of the 1640 Folio in the British Museum, with press-marks C. 28. m. 12 and 79.1.3, and two copies belonging to the editor -- one on large paper -- have been collated.

The Quartos are fully discussed in the textual introduction to the plays.

To ensure an accurate text every available copy has been collated for those plays which were printed for the first time in Quarto and revised by Jonson in the Folio of 1616. The former were printed from Jonson's manuscript, the latter from Quarto texts worked over by him for printer's copy. But the Folio of 1640 is in a different position: it is authoritative only for the plays from Bartholomew Fair onwards, which were printed in it for the first time. It has not therefore been judged necessary to collate a large number of copies for the text of these earlier plays, which is substantially a reprint.

An ample collation of the Quarto readings has been printed to show how rigorously Jonson scanned every detail of his final text. But every jot and tittle of variation is not . . .

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