Internet Shakespeare Editions

4.5. Textual Introduction

This will be a separate essay, linked as needed to your other materials and the text.

4.5.1. The copy text

You must indicate prominently the copy text you have chosen and your reasons for doing so. You should discuss the attempts of earlier editors to construct a presumed history of the copy text from Shakespeare's autograph to the latest substantive edition, adding your own conclusions where you deem this possible. You should also discuss what is known of printing-shop work on the text. State clearly the editorial principles of the present edition, based on these findings, and give a list of the editions you have consulted. See Margareta de Grazia, "The Essential Shakespeare and the Material Book" Textual Practices 2 (Spring 1988): 69-86.

4.5.2. Date

Discuss the probable date of composition of the play, and any questions about the text that may be influenced by your conclusions.

4.5.3. Sources

Undertake some discussion of the play's sources, where these are known or have been discovered. Emphasize the influence an understanding of the sources may have on your editorial choices in determining the text.

4.5.4. The theater

Where the theater of first performance is known, it may be valuable to discuss briefly the audience and/or stage conditions at that theater; alternatively you may wish to discuss this issue in the Performance History, cross-referencing where appropriate.

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