"IF YOU PRICK US, DO WE NOT BLEED?": SHAKESPEARE'S THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664, SPLENDIDLY BOUND
SHAKESPEARE. The Merchant of Venice. [London: Printed for P.C., 1664]. Folio (8-3/4 by 13-1/4 inches), period-style full black morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers, raised bands, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers; pp. 163-84. $16,000.
Eleven original leaves from the rare and important Third Folio, containing the complete text of Shakespeare's landmark comedy, The Merchant of Venice. 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 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 [O4]-Q2 contain The Merchant of Venice. Likely written between 1596 and 1598, The Merchant of Venice continues to be regularly staged, despite its controversial Jewish villain, Shylock. "The Merchant of Venice's stage Jew, Shylock, is intended as a comic villain… Shakespeare at once confounds our expectation and yet does not forsake his universality" (Bloom, The Western Canon, 51). With facsimile title page and frontispiece portrait, he facsimile title page reproduces the title page and frontis of the second issue of the Third Folio, bearing the date 1664 in the imprint rather than 1663. See Jaggard, 496.
First two leaves with minor marginal paper repairs along lower edge; occasional foxing to generally clean text. A splendidly bound volume in about-fine condition.