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THE STUDENTS' SHAKESPEARE
EDITED, WITH NOTES
FRANK ALANSON LOMBARD
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, DOSHISHA UNIVERSITY,
SOMETIME LECTURER IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, PEKING UNIVERSITY,
COMMERCIAL PRESS, LIMITED
STUDENTS OF CHINA
Lives have been spent, and libraries have been written upon the plays of Shakespeare. Controversy has waged over the question of their authorship; and critics have laboured to amend doubtful passages; but, for students seeking the culture which comes from great literature, their chief value lies in their presentation of characters which, while individual with all the individuality of living men and women, are in their nature universal, affording a laboratory unsurpassed for the study of human psychology and ethics.
It is in character-creation that the genius of Shakespeare is pre-eminent.
The great facts of life, the enduring relationships are personal; and in their study is to be found the most liberal of all culture. Experience in teaching has from year to year deepened the conviction that greater emphasis should be placed upon those personal elements which make for culture; and, therefore, without belittling the value of other studies in Shakespeare, whether textual or artistic, acknowledging indebtedness to many and claiming no originality, save it be in emphasis, this Students' Edition is presented as a document in life.
If, in the exposition of character, interpretations are given which contradict those of other students, let it be remembered that such divergence of opinion is a tribute to the reality of the creation which we study, for exactly such divergence of opinion exists concerning men and women in real life; and if it be charged that in exposition much is set forth which Shakespeare never intended, the defense may be urged that only so can any work of genius be justified to future ages. He who builds to endure ever builds better than he knows; and the function of literary interpretation is not alone to determine and make clear what any given author may have thought and intended, but also and emphatically to discover and illumine what his creation may mean for a present generation of readers.
Furthermore, though an editor should make clear his own interpretation, a teacher should seek to arouse that spirit of