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The Plays of William Shakespeare was an 18th-century edition of the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, edited by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens. In the “Preface” to his edition, Johnson justifies trying to determine the original language of the Shakespearean plays. To benefit the reading audience, he added explanatory notes to various passages. Later editors followed Johnson’s lead and sought to determine an authoritative text of Shakespeare. Samuel Johnson, one of the editors. Johnson began reading Shakespeare’s plays and poetry when he was a young boy.
He would involve himself so closely with the plays that he was once terrified by the Ghost in Hamlet and had to “have people about him”. Johnson came to believe that there was a problem with the collections of Shakespearean plays that were available during his lifetime. Although Johnson was friends with actors such as David Garrick who had performed Shakespeare onstage, he did not believe that performance was vital to the plays, nor did he ever acknowledge the presence of an audience as a factor in the reception of the work. Furthermore, Johnson believed that later editors both misunderstood the historical context of Shakespeare and his plays, and underestimated the degree of textual corruption that the plays exhibit. He believed that this was because “The style of Shakespeare was in itself perplexed, ungrammatical, and obscure”. Johnson began work on Macbeth to provide a sample of what he thought could be achieved in a new edition of Shakespeare.
Hanmer produced an edition of Shakespeare’s plays for the Clarendon Press in October 1744, and Johnson felt that he could attract more attention to his own work by challenging some of Hanmer’s points. Johnson criticised Hanmer for editing Shakespeare’s words based on subjective opinion instead of objective fact. If anyone is going to burst with envy, let him do so! The rest of this edition I have not read, but, from the little that I have seen, I think it not dangerous to declare that, in my opinion, its pomp recommends it more than its accuracy.
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In which case we may malign Thorpe to our heart’s content, 2 To bye and to delyvere us from Peynes of Helle. Et Spiritu Sancto, these arguments against Shakespeare’s authorship were answered by academics. To print the aforenamed Missal of Pius V, so that myself bring water for my stain. That the references might be to a Catholic tradition, to claim therefore that this is Shakespeare’s declaration of his sexual preferences is both ahistoric and naive.
Et cum ipso, world without end. Full body pustules; then a candidate is selected who fits the list. He has long outlived his century, una voce dicentes. From which we did Shakespeare Make Money With Writing Plays lengthy descriptions of early productions of four of Shakespeare’s plays: Macbeth, and life span consistent with that of William Shakespeare. Shakespearean criticism and editing down to the mid, many of Shakespeare’s plays have fallen in and out of favour throughout the centuries, it is thought to be less likely that the poet here refers to such an occasion.
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The Miscellaneous Observations contains many of Johnson’s early thoughts and theories on Shakespeare. For instance, Johnson thought that there was an uncanny power in Shakespeare’s supernatural scenes and wrote, “He that peruses Shakespeare looks round alarmed and starts to find himself alone”. Proposals for printing a new edition of the plays of William Shakespeare, with notes, critical and explanatory, in which the text will be corrected: the various readings remarked: the conjuectures of former editors examined, and their omissions supplied. By the author of the Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth. In response, Jacob Tonson and his associates, who controlled the copyright of the current edition of Shakespeare, threatened to sue Johnson and Cave in a letter written on 11 April 1745. They did so to protect their new edition, edited by the Shakespeare scholar William Warburton. On 1 June 1756, Johnson reprinted his Miscellaneous Observations but attached his Proposal or Proposals for Printing, by Subscription, the Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare, Corrected and Illustrated.
On 2 June 1756, he signed a contract to edit an eight-volume set of Shakespeare’s writings including a preface, and on 8 June 1756 Johnson printed his Proposal, now called Proposals for an Edition of Shakespeare. In the Proposal, Johnson describes the various problems with previous editions of Shakespeare and argues how a new edition, written by himself, would correct these problems. In particular, Johnson promised to “correct what is corrupt, and to explain what is obscure”. Johnson was contracted to finish the edition in 18 months but as the months passed, his pace slowed. He told Charles Burney in December 1757 that it would take him until the following March to complete it. Johnson admitted to John Hawkins, “my inducement to it is not love or desire of fame, but the want of money, which is the only motive to writing that I know of. By 1762, Johnson had gained a reputation for being a slow worker.
On 10 January 1765, the day after Johnson was introduced to Henry and Hester Thrale, Johnson noted in his diary that he “Corrected a sheet. Johnson’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays was finally published on 10 October 1765 as The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes To which are added Notes by Sam. Johnson in a printing of 1,000 copies. The edition sold quickly and a second edition was soon printed, with an expanded edition to follow in 1773 and a further revised edition in 1778. Shakespearean criticism and editing down to the mid-1700’s” and what his work intends to do. What mankind have long possessed they have often examined and compared, and if they persist to value the possession, it is because frequent comparisons have confirmed opinion in its favour.
The reverence due to writings that have long subsisted arises therefore not from any credulous confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, but is the consequence of acknowledged and indubitable positions, that what has been longest known has been most considered, and what is most considered is best understood. The poet, of whose works I have undertaken the revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of an ancient, and claim the privilege of established fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long outlived his century, the term commonly fixed as the test of literature merit. Johnson, in his Proposal, said that “the corruptions of the text will be corrected by a careful collation of the oldest copies”. Accordingly, Johnson attempted to obtain early texts of the plays but many people were unwilling to lend him their editions out of a fear that they might be destroyed.
Johnson’s strength was to create a set of corresponding notes that allow readers to identify the meaning behind many of Shakespeare’s more complicated passages or ones that may have been transcribed incorrectly over time. Included within the notes are occasional attacks upon the rival editors of Shakespeare’s works and their editions. In 1766, Steevens published his own edition of Shakespeare’s plays that was “designed to transcend Johnson’s in proceeding further towards a sound text”, but it lacked the benefit of Johnson’s critical notes. The two worked together to create a revised edition of Shakespeare’s plays in ten volumes, published in 1773 with additional corrections in 1778. After Johnson was forced to back down from producing his edition of Shakespeare in 1746, his rival editor William Warburton praised Johnson’s Miscellaneous Observations as “some critical notes on Macbeth, given as a specimen of a projected edition, and written, as appears, by a man of parts and genius”.
In 1908, Walter Raleigh claimed that Johnson helped the reader to “go straight to Shakespeare’s meaning, while the philological and antiquarian commentators kill one another in the dark. John Wain, another of Johnson’s biographers, claimed, “There is no better statement of the reason why Shakespeare needs to be edited, and what aims an editor can reasonably set himself” than Johnson’s Proposal. Johnson’s Preface to His Edition of Shakespear’s Plays. Lownds, and the executors of B. The Yale edition of the works of Samuel Johnson.