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HORACE HOWARD FURNESS, Ph.D., LL.D.
HONORARY MEMBER OF THE DEUTSCHE SHAKESPRARE-GESELLSCHAFT'
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
'GERMAN SHAKESPEARE SOCIETY'
REPRESENTATIVE OF A PEOPLE
WHOSE RECENT HISTORY
ONCE FOR ALL
GERMANY IS NOT HAMLET'
THESE VOLUMES ARE DEDICATED
WITH GREAT RESPECT BY
THE plan of the preceding volumes of this edition has been followed in the preparation of the present volumes. It is modified only by the necessity of making the impossible attempt to condense within a certain number of pages a whole literature.
Of the imperfect success which has crowned the labour no one can be so fully aware as the Editor. Nevertheless, the work is given to the public in the trust that it will furnish some facilities to the study of this great poem, and aid in preparing the way for better editions than this.
The First Volume contains The Text, with a collation of the texts of the Quartos and Folios, and of some thirty modern editions, together with Notes and Comments from the Editors whose texts are collated, and, added to these, such verbal and grammatical criticisms from other quarters as seemed to be valuable; in some instances, notes are given that have little or no value, except as hints of the progress or of the madness of Shakespearian criticism.
As a general rule, in the Commentary preference is given to verbal over æsthetic criticism. Whenever editors whose texts are collated have indulged in æsthetic suggestions, these, in the main, have been retained. But in other cases æsthetic criticisms have been reserved for Volume II, except where the notes were of too brief and fragmentary a character to be separated from the context.
This difference in the treatment of verbal and ästhetic criticism is observed solely with reference to the arrangement of the mass of material, not because ästhetic criticism is inferior in value to verbal. Indeed, does not the value of the latter depend in many cases more or less directly upon the former ?