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KING EDWARD the Fourth.
sons to the King.
King Richard III.,
Henry VI. ; afterwards married to Richard.
Ghosts of those murdered by Richard III., Lords and other
Attendants; a Pursuivant, Scrivener, Citizens, Murderers,
DURATION OF TIME
Dramatic Time. — The events actually represented cover eleven days; the whole dramatic time, allowing for necessary intervals, is approximately one month (Daniel : *Time Analysis,' Trans. N. Sh. Soc. 1877-79).
Historic Time. –The historic period covered by the action is from the obsequies of Henry VI. (May 23. 1471) to the battle of Bosworth (August 22, 1485).
RICHARD III., from the first one of the most popular Editions. plays of Shakespeare, was first printed, in Quarto, in 1597 under the title:
The Tragedy of King Richard the third Containing, His treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence: | the pittiefull murther of his innocent nephewes : | his tyrannicall usurpation: with the whole course of his detested life, and most deserved death. As it has been lately Acted by the Right honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his servants. AT LONDON | Printed by Valentine Sims, for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, at the sign of the Angell. 1597.
Seven other Quarto editions followed, in 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1622, 1629, 1634, each apparently printed from its immediate predecessor, except that the Quarto of 1612 was printed from that of 1602. All seven, moreover, contained the name of Shakespeare on the title-page. In the interval between the sixth and seventh Quarto appeared the first Folio edition of the entire works. The title of the play here runs :
The Tragedie of Richard the Third : with the landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field.
The text of the other three Folios is substantially
identical with that of the first. On the other hand, the text of the first diverges widely from that of all the Quartos, and the divergence is of so complicated a kind that the determination of the relationship and authority of the two texts is one of the most serious enigmas of Shakespearean criticism.
The unquestioned facts are as follows:
1. The Quarto text (called here Q) contains thirtytwo lines not found in the Folio (here called F);1 F, on the other hand, contains about 200 lines not found in Q.2 Nearly all these lines, both in Q and F, are clearly genuine.
2. Where the matter substantially corresponds, Q is frequently briefer in expression, less regular in grammar, style, metre, and punctuation; the stage directions are curter, and the dramatic machinery, here and there, simpler-e.g: Catesby superintends the execution of Hastings instead of Ratcliff and Lovel, while Surrey, who speaks a line in v. 1. 3 (F), has no part whatever in Q. But the brevity of Q is not seldom more forcible than the regularity of F.
3. Apart from these differences, the two texts show hundreds of slight variations for which no clear ground can be given.
Neither Q nor F thenceforth can claim to be exclusively Shakespeare's work, as regards at least the passages found in each alone. But the variations are sufficiently ambiguous to permit a good case to be made out for the decided superiority of either.
1 The most important of these are : i. 3. 114 ; 4. 115-7, 137, 195, 243 ; 2. 84-5 ; iii. 7, 220; iv. 2.
102 - 119; v. 3, 204-6.
2 These are: i. 2. 16, 25, 155167; 3. 116, 167-9; 4. 36, 37,6972, 115-6, 222, 266-9, 273, 275 ;
ii. I. 67 ; 2. 89-100, 123-140 ; iii. 1. 172-4 ; 3. 7, 8, 15; 4. 104-7; 5. 7, 103-5 ; 7. 5, 6, 37, 98-9, 120, 127, 144-53, 202, 245 ; iv. 1. 2-6, 37, 98-104 ; 4. 20-1, 28, 32, 53, 103, 159, 172, 179, 221-34, 276-7, 288342, 400 ; v. 3. 27-8, 43.
The extremer partisans of the Quarto (e.g. Mr. Gregory Foster) believe Q to represent Shakespeare's first draft, revised and compressed by himself, F the same draft edited and elaborated by another. The extremer partisans of the Folio (e.g. Delius, Spedding, Daniel 3) regard Q as a more or less mutilated version of Shakespeare's work which F represents either in its original form (Delius) or after a revision by Shakespeare's own hand (Spedding). Mr. Daniel (in his Facsimile Reprint of Q.) thinks that F represents the authentic theatrical text in use in 1623, the recent Quarto of 1622 being corrected for the press from it.
Neither of these extreme views seems quite adequate to the complexity of the facts. In both texts much must be allowed for mere blundering and carelessness; but it hardly admits of doubt that when we have removed tł.is outer crust from Q, we get at work Shakespearean so far as it goes; when we have removed it from F we get at work which retains more of Shakespeare's material in a less purely Shakespearean form. When a play could remain for twenty-five years in the repertory of the company, a stage tradition inevitably grew up uncontrolled by the published texts. It is likely enough that Shakespeare himself contributed to this traditional version by alterations in his own text. But it is quite certain also that much more was contributed by some hand other than his, probably after his retirement and without his concurrence. This editor may have independently emended, or he may simply have recorded changes long established in stage tradition. The ideal aim, then, of the modern editor must be to detect and eliminate the work of both
Shakspere Society Shakespearê Gesellschaft, Bd. Transactions, 1875-6. vii.
3 Facsimile Reprint of Qı.