King Lear. Othello. Anthony and Cleopatra


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SHAKESPEARE. The Tragedie of King Lear. BOUND WITH: The Tragedy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. BOUND WITH: The Tragedy of Anthony, and Cleopatra. [London: Tho. Cotes for Robert Allot, 1632]. Folio (9 by 12-1/4 inches), modern half morocco gilt, marbled endpapers, uncut; pp. 303-88.

The complete text of three of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, King Lear, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra, from the rare and important Second Folio, on 43 original leaves, attractively bound in modern half morocco-gilt.

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 Second Folio, like the First Folio of 1623, contains 36 plays, all the plays that are considered to be wholly or in part by Shakespeare (with the exception of Pericles, which was added to the Third Folio edition of 1663). "The folios are incomparably the most important work in the English language" (W.A. Jackson, Pforzheimer Catalogue). A new group of investors published the Second Folio collection of Shakespeare's plays, which, with some changes (intentional and otherwise), largely reprinted the First Folio (1623) page for page. It is estimated that no more than 1000 copies of the Second Folio were printed. Leaves [ee6]-[aaa6] contain the three plays King Lear, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra. "The Shakespearean exuberance or gusto is part of what breaks through linguistic and cultural barriers… Shakespeare is to the world's literature what Hamlet is to the imaginary domain of literary character: a spirit that permeates everywhere, that simply cannot be confined" (Bloom, The Western Canon, 52).

"There is, as Dr. Johnson conveyed, a terrible desolation in the final scene of The Tragedy of King Lear, an effect surpassing anything else of its kind, in Shakespeare or any other writer… There is a terrible and deliberate gap, a cosmological emptiness into which we are thrown. A sensitive apprehension of The Tragedy of King Lear gives us a sense of having been thrown outward and downward until we are left beyond values, altogether bereft" (Bloom, 65-67). Written sometime between 1601-04, Othello—the grim tale of passion and suspicion both manipulated and untamed, once praised by Macaulay as "perhaps the greatest work in the world"—is also Shakespeare's "most richly human" work, "and in the Greek sense the most beautiful" (Baugh et al., 536). Antony and Cleopatra was first performed circa 1607; the plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Sicilian revolt to Cleopatra's suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. Cleopatra is one of the most complex and fascinating female characters found in any of Shakespeare's plays. See STC 22274; Jaggard, 496. Pencil notation to upper corner of each leaf.

Bottom corners of 381-384 repaired (no textual loss) and final leaf reinforced along bottom edge, upper margins of several leaves clipped closely only affecting running titles, only a few spots of scattered soiling as usual, binding fine. A rare copy in exceptional condition.

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