Saturday, May 15, 2010

The First Folio

The First Folio seems like a dry subject, but it's the only way we could talk about some of the most important documents in Shakespeare's record: the poems at the beginning of the book, and the Droeshout Portrait.

Thanks, Wikipedia!
Places you can see the First Folio:
 Plain Text Version

Next Episode is about Othello
Episode Outline after the break.
The First Folio

   1. Intro
         1. names
         2. First Folio
   2. What's the deal with the first Folio?
         1. one of the most significant books of the century, it's either that or KJV
   3. Making the First Folio
         1. Shakespeare was dead for seven years
         2. Heminges and Condell did not have a complete a perfect copy, many plays are quite poor
         3. It appears they didn't have originals, or had poor originals, or had to gather materials from others
         4. Jaggard's printing press
               1. Jaggard had made a book that pirated WH's stuff, but there's no one else to go to for this kind of job
         5. Printers would gladly edit stuff they didn't like, and there are many printing errors, only a few of them corrected with later copies
         6. This means that few if any copies can be described as identical
   4. What's in the first folio
         1. Pretty crummy, as a book
               1. Looks unimpressive, physically. Bland cover.
               2. Typing is often foreign, including the funky f->s deal, and v->u
               3. Latin Stage directions, act and scene names
         2. Picture
               1. Brief Poem by BJ about portrait
               2. crummy drawring, even if WH looked generally like this, he's probably not lopsided
         3. Messages by Heminges and Condell
               1. 1 to the patrons
                     1. William Earl of Pembroke
                     2. Philip Earl of Montgomery
               2. 1 to the peoples
         4. Genres
               1. This is the codification of the genres
         5. Dedications
               1. Dedications at the time
                     1. Sort of like the bits on the back of books, where it quotes some guy
                     2. Most people (later in the century) have a lot more dedications, that one guy even had one that said "I was asked for a dedication, this guy's is a jerk"
               2. Dedications in the Folio
                     1. Ben Jonson ("BI")
                           1. references william basse, who wanted chaucer, spencer, and beaumont to make some space in Westminster Abbey
                           2. Sweet Swan of Avon
                     2. Hugh Holland best described as "Some Guy"
                     3. L. Digges
                     4. J.M. (Possibly James Mabbe, also some guy)
         6. Principle Actors
               1. William Shakespeare, front and center
         7. Plays
               1. Plays of various qualities
                     1. Compared to Quartos, etc
                     2. It's extremely probable that it's impossible to isolate a true shakespeare, but also probable that there's no true version of a given play, any play has alterations from its first writing and final performance
               2. Names briefly fall into Richard and Will (assumed to be Kemp) for a scene, the names of the actors, rather than the characters
               3. There is some belief that "Typos" in the Folio indicate acting clues, such as capitalization indicating emphasis, etc.
   5. Authorship relationship
         1. The dedications from Heminges and Condell are a problem for conspiracy theorists
         2. Stratford Monument and Sweet Swan of Avon
         3. Why does it say "William Shakespeare?" Publications had to be approved by the state.
         4. Mark Anderson says that the works were held by Oxford's family, this is inconsistent with quality of plays being so erratic
   6. What's not in the first folio
         1. Pericles and Two Noble Kinsmen
         2. Sonnets
         3. Venus and Adonis
         4. Phoenix and the Turtle
         5. Apocryphal plays
         6. A couple real plays
   7. Availability
         1. Very expensive to purchase
         2. Available online in multiple places
   8. Outro
         1. Coriolanus is being made into a movie. Starring Ralph Fiennes.
         2. I may have to do some hosting shenanigans, the website will remain the same, but iTunes feeds may get confused. All episodes will be available for the foreseeable future. No plans to make this some sort of "Subscription only" archive access or something.
         3. voting on stuff
         4. Othello Next
         5. Next Ep


  1. Are you really the guys that do the Bardcast I get from itunes? And you haven't updated this sucker since May? Well it's only June, so I guess I'll let you slide.

    First of all, one of you said there are no good plays from the Shakespeare period written by anyone else. What about The Spanish Tragedy? Pretty bloody and bizarre. The Roaring Girl? Check out the podcast called NOT SHAKESPEARE by Emma Smith. Or don't: she's from OXFORD! Yuck.

    Next, I like the plot summaries. So keep that up.

    Thirdly (am on 3 already?), Comedy of Errors is actually funny. Thanks for showing me that. I never laughed at anything in or related to Shakespeare before, so nice work. See, that's what happens when you approach the material respectfully but not reverentially: you can make it swing a little.

    The idea of the guy getting to the gate and saying, "But this is my house!" or finding the slave with some rope, "Why did you buy some rope, you ass!" Not bad. If Harpo Marx could play the slave, it would be great. He'd dead but you get the idea.

    Fifth, or whatever number I'm on, I saw Sir Patrick Stewart as Prospero for free in Central Park and it was only okay. It would have been good if he had shown up in his STAR TREK constume, as if he were Jean Luc Picard stranded on an island, with technology instead of magic books.

    I kind of assumed that's how they would do it but Stewart was too "I'm a real actor!" full of himself to think of it. I'm sure it never crossed his mind. Anyway, I fell asleep.

    And I thought I liked Falstaff (where am I now, 6?) until you guys took him apart.

    Cervantes and Shakespeare lived at the same time and Don Quijote is really funny so I assumed that Shakespeare just isn't that funny, that it's not a product of the difference in eras, but maybe I was wrong.

    Here is an idea for a show: Shakespeare is funny, true or false? You work out some material from all the different plays and see if the shit is funny or not. Actually, this is inspiring me to give it a try myself.

    I mean, could a really good actor make Hamlet funny? It is kind of funny, in that Hamlet is such a loser.

    Othello, that's funny. This chump, Othello, just gets completely played by Iago. And Desdemona is so fucking perfect and not even self righteous about it, which makes it even worse, I want to shove a pillow on her face. If she had cheated on him, then it would be a tragedy to kill her, because she shows some spark of life. Actually, that was good of her to fall in love with a black foreigner like Othello in the first place, but like I said it WAS TOO GOOD. Wait, I sound like Iago myself, only more twisted.

    I think I should be on some kind of watch list, maybe like 'No-go-to-plays" list.

    Well, for point 15, I really like that podcast y'all do and all but I think it's time to really let your hair down, Rapunzel, and let me crawl up there out of the audience and see if you think Othello is crazy then!

  2. Yes, we're that podcast from iTunes. Sorry about not updating for a while. We've been busy doing stuff, but I assure you we will have another episode by the end of the month, at latest.

    As for the "There are no other good writers at Shakespeare's time", that was probably Jeff talking, and he often says things with no basis whatsoever.

  3. It was Jeff, about the other plays. You supposed there might be some other good ones from the era. You should check out that iTunes U podcast I recommended if you want to sample some of the other stuff. Jeff also said he doesn't like the sonnets, which is absurd. But I loved it. I disagree, but I like a good strong (but wrong) opinion tossed off with little explanation about something that is as important as you want it to be.

    Okay, make some more podcasts! Yes, I am a fan. You heard right and I ain't ashamed or it. Keep them coming.

    Oh, and read some sonnets in the sonnet podcast, the whole poems, like the first ones about how Shakespeare wants his male friend to marry and have children so his beauty can carry on into the future. I don't know who Shakespeare was talking to or why it was any of his business whether his friend has children or not or why this issued inspired him to write five poems, but do you think the friend was a little creeped out by it? And what if he did have children and he had a very beautiful little boy, just as Shakespeare hoped, a little, younger version of his beautiful self. Would you, as the friend, want Shakespeare to hang out with this boy when he turns about 13?

    Shakespeare was a little freaky on this one. Think about it. Maybe that will get Jeff into the sonnets.

  4. I want to talk about the Sonnets as it relates to Shakespeare's biography sometime. Basically, if you think they're autobiographical, they're VERY revealing, but there's no particular reason to think a given sonnet is written from the heart, or just a clever bit of poetry. No reason, that is, except to justify one's preconceptions about Shakespeare.

    We're recording "Othello" at the beginning of the next week. It should be up by the 25th at latest. Thanks for your patience!

  5. I've read the sonnets, I know what they're about, I'm just not a big fan. When we do an episode or two about the sonnets, I'll go into more detail, but I feel no shame in my rejection of them.

  6. Thank you for a very interesting podcast! I just want to share a memory. 10 years ago on a trip to London, I saw an actual First Folio !!! It was (and presumably still is) in the British Library which has a museum with numerous historical documents on display for the general public. They also have the Magna Carta there. And after listening to your podcast, I now appreciate what I saw much more.