“LIKE MADNESS IS THE GLORY OF THIS LIFE”: TIMON OF ATHENS, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664
SHAKESPEARE. [Life of Tymon of Athens]. [London: Printed for P.C., 1664]. Folio (9 by 13-1/2 inches), period-style three-quarter calf gilt, red morocco spine labels, marbled boards. $3500.
Eleven original leaves from the Third Folio, containing Timon of Athens, handsomely bound.
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 this play was 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 [Kkk6]-[Mmm4] contain Timon of Athens. "A play only partly Shakespeare's and of uncertain date. Stylistically, so far as Shakespeare's part goes, it most suggests King Lear, and it is animated by the same bitter wrath against ingratitude" (Baugh et al., 539). Herman Melville admired the play, citing Timon as one of the dark characters through whom the Bard "craftily says, or sometimes insinuates the things, which we feel to be so terrifically true, that it were all but madness for any good man, in his own proper character, to utter, or even hint of them" (in "Hawthorne and His Mosses," 1850). The facsimile title page and frontispiece reproduce these pages of the second issue of the Third Folio, bearing the date 1664 in the imprint rather than 1663. See Jaggard, 496.
A clean, wide-margined copy in fine condition.