William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

299.

Edmond Malone, edition of Shakespeare

1790

From The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare, in ten volumes; collated verbatim with the most authentick copies, and revised: with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators; to which are added. An Essay on the chronological Order of his Plays; An Essay relative to Shakespeare and Jonson; A Dissertation on the Three Parts of King Henry VI; An Historical Account of the English Stage; and Notes; by Edmond Malone (11 vols, London, 1790).

On Malone see the head-note to No. 265. For this major edition Malone retained, and expanded, most of the material he had produced in 1780 and 1783 (No. 275), and added much more. The Prolegomena increased to such an extent that they had to be printed in two volumes, described as ‘Vol. 1, Part 1’ and ‘Vol. 1, Part 2’, distinguished here as ‘I, part 1’, and ‘I, part 2’. Malone had issued a duodecimo edition with select notes in 1786, and in the following year first published A Dissertation on the Three Parts of ‘Henry VI’, tending to shew that those plays were not written originally by Shakespeare (51 pp.).

[From the Preface]

In the following work, the labour of eight years, I have endeavoured with unceasing solicitude to give a faithful and correct edition of the plays and poems of Shakespeare. Whatever imperfection or errours therefore may be found in it (and what work of so great length and difficulty was ever free from errour or imperfection?) will, I trust, be imputed to any other cause than want of zeal for the due execution of the task which I ventured to undertake.

The difficulties to be encountered by an editor of the works of Shakespeare have been so frequently stated, and are so generally acknowledged that it may seem unnecessary to conciliate the

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