"BE NOT AFRAID OF GREATNESS": SHAKESPEARE'S TWELFTH NIGHT, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664
SHAKESPEARE. [Twelfe Night, Or what you will]. [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. $4250.
Eleven original leaves from the Third Folio, containing Twelfth Night, 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 Y2-[Z6] contain Twelfth Night. Of the Bard's late comedies, "the latest, Twelfth Night, is the most perfect" (Baugh et al., 526). "Twelfth Night… seems to me the funniest of Shakespeare's plays…a highly deliberate outrage" (Harold Bloom).
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 fine, handsome copy.