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independent interpretation which leads to a personal evaluation of the characters introduced. The interpretation of Shakespeare is not a fixed canon, and the natural, sincere reaction of each open-minded student is a contribution of value enriching the subject and at the same time developing the personality of the student himself. It is not to be desired that each reader should assent to any given exposition; but it is to be desired that each student should test and develop his own character through the endeavor to solve for himself those questions of psychology and ethics which are presented in Shakespeare's laboratory of life.

The notes of this edition are of two classes. Verbal notes are, for the most part, placed beneath the text, while notes in exposition are given upon the opposite page. Occasional blank space has been left for private notes-of all things most valuable to the student when made with care as a record of personal reaction. True asides are printed in italics; soliloquies, as well as quotations, in smaller type; and a change in person addressed is designated by dropping the text to a lower line.

As far as possible, credit has been given to original expositors; but so general has become the mass of Shakespearean scholarship that it is quite impossible for one to realize the full extent of his indebtedness.

Grateful acknowledgment is here rendered my students in Japan and China. The many friends who have read the plays with me, my associates in the work of education and Dr. Furness from the treasury of whose Variorum Edition I have drawn most heavily and to whose encyclopedic work those wishing to make a deeper study must be referred.

This Students' Edition of King Lear is revised and corrected from the editor's Memorial Edition of the same play published by Hakubunkwan, Tokyo, in 1917.

Peking, October 10, 1921.



The fact that Shakespeare, with all his genius, wrote for the immediate needs of the theatre and to secure for himself a livelihood, without enough thought of the literary value of his work to care for its preservation or superintend its publication, has occasioned great problems in connection with his writings as a whole and with individual plays in particular.

Pirated editions in quarto of many separate plays appeared during his life-time. These are now known as the early quartos. The first real edition of his works was not published until 1623. This is known as the first folio, and contains all the plays generally attributed to Shakespeare, with the exception of "Pericles."

John Heming and Henry Condell, two of Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, were the nominal editors of this folio edition; but their part seems to have consisted merely in supplying the publishers with the best copy which they could secure, whether from the Blackfriars' Theatre, to which they like Shakespeare belonged, or from earlier pirated quartos. The resulting volume of 906 pages, while the nearest approach to an authorized edition, abounds in errors, in the correction of which later editors have suggested various readings.

Three later folio editions appeared, in 1632, 1663, and 1685 respectively; but they added little of value to the first folio which, taken together with the quartos, stands as the basis of all later editorial work. During the eighteenth century much study was given to Shakespeare; and the readings of different students may be found in the Variorum Editions of which the latest and most inclusive is the "New Variorum" by Dr. Furness, to whom and to whose work the present edition is largely indebted.

The text here used is an embodiment of what seems the best emendations of the first folio with a conservative preference for the earlier readings.


The plays of Shakespeare are in blank verse, except for occasional rhymed passages, songs, and short sections in prose.

The norm of blank verse is a line of ten syllables with the even syllables accented:

It is, however, the freest of all English verse forms, and the most exacting in its demand upon the poetic taste of the composer. In Shakespeare divergencies from the norm are frequent; but a correct reading of such divergent lines, with due attention to the musical basis of English verse, will usually make evident their appropriateness since the test of all verse lies in its sound as read. The chief variations may be grouped as follows:

(1) Female lines-possessing one or two unaccented syllables after the tenth.

(2) Accented odd syllables-rare in the case of the third and ninth and never in succession.

(3) Apparently superfluous syllables, and single syllables which have to fill the place of two. These both yield to proper treatment in reading.

(4) Occasional Alexandrines of twelve syllables with six accents. (5) Incomplete verses, especially in opening or closing conversational remarks where pause and transition fill out the measure.

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