Shakespeare anniversary marked by new books

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...The big book is a new one-volume edition of the complete works, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and published by the Modern Library. Two eminent Shakespeareans, Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio, the first collection of the plays, published in 1623. Unlike the smaller-format editions of individual plays known as quartos, the folio edition is thought to preserve the plays as they were performed rather than as originally written, hence the interest of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is using the updated folio version in its productions of all 36 plays in the 2006-7 season. “In some cases, the Quartos are probably closer to Shakespeare’s original manuscript draft, but the Folio is closer to his playhouse,” Mr. Bate writes in a superb introduction that deals with Shakespeare and his world as well as textual questions.

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