"WHOEVER LOV'D, THAT LOV'D NOT AT FIRST SIGHT?": THREE SHAKESPEARE COMEDIES—AS YOU LIKE IT, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, AND ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664, SPLENDIDLY BOUND
SHAKESPEARE. As You Like It; The Taming of the Shrew; All's Well That Ends Well. [London: Printed for P.C., 1664]. Folio (9 by 12-3/4 inches), period-style full crimson morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers, raised bands, black morocco spine label, marbled endpapers; pp. 185-254. $15,000.
Thirty-five original leaves from the rare and important Third Folio, containing the complete text of three of Shakespeare's greatest comedies: As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, and All's Well that Ends Well (three leaves supplied from another copy of the same edition). Splendidly bound in elaborately gilt-decorated period-style morocco.
The four folios of Shakespeare are the first four editions of Shakespeare's collected plays. These were the only collected editions printed in the 17th century (a 1619 attempt at a collected edition in quarto form was never completed). The 1664 second issue of the Third Folio (from which these plays were taken), is the first to include Pericles (along with six other spurious plays) and is therefore the first complete edition of Shakespeare's plays. The Third Folio is believed to be the scarcest of the four great 17th-century folio editions, a large part of the edition presumed destroyed in the Great London Fire of 1666. "The folios are incomparably the most important work in the English language" (W.A. Jackson, Pforzheimer Catalogue).
Leaves Q3-Y contain three plays: As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, and All's Well that Ends Well. "Women disguising themselves as young men had been a useful plot device in both The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Merchant of Venice… In As You Like It (1599–1600), Shakespeare explored the idea to something approaching its limits. For As You Like It, his principal source was Thomas Lodge's prose romance Rosalynde (1590)… In this play Shakespeare also paid a small tribute to Marlowe as Phoebe remembers the words of the 'Dead shepherd': 'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?' (III.v, ll. 82–3)" (ODNB). Likely dating from 1604-05, All's Well that Ends Well, often dubbed one of the Bard's "problem plays," is "a romance studded with nasty thorns, a cynical satire, a jumble—it is often cloudy. But gray, in Shakespeare's hands, becomes silver, and this play, stepchild of the canon though it may be, is still a mirror, however cracked, held up to the world. It reflects the intensity of life from the oddest of angles" (New York Times). The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare's first plays, dating from the early 1590s, and its story of the taming of a woman's independent spirit by a man has generated considerable controversy over the years—likely beginning with the play's first productions, as it was staged at a time when arranged marriages were giving way to more romantically guided unions, leading to substantial questions about women's position in society. With facsimile frontispiece and title page; the facsimile title page reproduces the title page of the second issue of the Third Folio, bearing the date 1664 in the imprint rather than 1663. Three leaves—pp. 211-212 in The Taming of the Shrew and pp. 227-230, the end of The Taming of the Shrew and the first page of All's Well That Ends Well—supplied from another copy of the Third Folio, roughly 3/4" shorter and narrower than the other leaves (It is not unusual for Shakespeare folios to have leaves supplied from other copies). See Jaggard, 496.
Interior generally clean. A splendidly bound volume in fine condition.