"EXERTS FASCINATION AS A PORTRAIT OF MAN UNMOORED": PERICLES, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664
SHAKESPEARE. The Much Admired Play, Called, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. [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. $1800.
Ten original leaves from the Third Folio, containing Pericles, which was not included in the First or Second Folio editions (one leaf supplied from another copy of the same edition), 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 a1-b4, which concluded the Third Folio, contain Pericles. Likely written in 1607, Pericles proved quite popular with its original, Jacobean audience—to the displeasure of Ben Jonson, who set the tone for centuries of its detractors, deeming it a "mouldy tale… and stale / As the thieve's crusts, and nasty as his fish- / Scraps"—but it did not appear in the First Folio (1623) or the Second Folio (1632), and was, in fact, absent from London stages from 1659 until 1854. More recent productions have occasioned some critical reappraisal: "Pericles still exerts fascination as a portrait of man unmoored, a passive vessel in stormy seas" (New York Times). 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. One leaf, a5, supplied from another copy of the same edition, and slightly smaller than the other leaves. See Jaggard, 496.
A clean and very good copy.