From National Public Radio:
400 Years After His Death, Shakespeare's First Folio Goes Out On Tour
One of the world's most precious volumes starts a tour on Monday, in Norman, Okla.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is sending out William Shakespeare's First Folio to all 50 states to mark the 400th anniversary of the bard's death. Published seven years after he died, the First Folio is the first printed collection of all of Shakespeare's plays.
The Folger has 82 First Folios — the largest collection in the world. It's located several stairways down, in a rare manuscript vault. To reach them, you first have to get through a fire door ... (if a fire did threaten these priceless objects, it would be extinguished not with water — never water near priceless paper — but with a system that removes oxygen from the room).
A massive safe door comes next — so heavy it takes two burly guards to open it, and then yet another door, which triggers a bell to alert librarians that someone has entered. After that, there's yet another door and an elevator waaaay down to a vault that nearly spans the length of a city block, says Folger director Michael Witmore.
This is where the library stores tens of thousands of pieces of paper — folios, plus half of everything printed in England from 1473 to 1660 and much more. And there, propped open on spongy wedges to protect the binding, is the First Folio.
"If you had to pick one book to represent Shakespeare, this is it," Witmore says.
Two of Shakespeare's pals put it together in 1623, after he died. John Heminges and Henry Condell were fellow actors who felt the plays should be collected in a single large volume.
They also added in 18 of Shakespeare's plays that had never appeared in print, explains Witmore. "Without this book we probably wouldn't have ... Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Winter's Tale ..."
Macbeth is one of the 18 previously unprinted plays that appeared in the First Folio
It adds up to a total of 36 plays in the Folio. The others had been printed, as individual works in smaller format (quarto — single pages folded in four, and bound). Some of those were published in Shakespeare's lifetime....MOREHT: The Paris Review's linkfest, "First Folios on the Loose, and Other News" which continues:
- Carlo Gesualdo died about four hundred years ago, too—but contemporary celebrations of his work tend to be overshadowed by a grisly episode from his biography: namely the allegation that he killed his spouse. “The idea of an aristocrat murdering his wife in flagrante has proved irresistible, and only very secondarily do people ask how such behavior may have been turned to creative ends. And when they do listen to the music, they very quickly find exactly what they expect: tortured, dissonant, disjointed (no pun intended) writing which obviously shows a psychopath at work …MORE
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Some of our other folios:
Whether 'tis Nobler In The Mind To Suffer The Slings and Arrows Of Econ Commentators
William Shakespeare: Annuity Beneficiary
"In Denmark You Are Now Paid To Take Out A Mortgage"
"Shakespeare: tax evader and food hoarder?"