All's Well that Ends Well,Shakespeare, William, published in the Folio (generally known as the First Folio), Stationers Company, London, 1623.
The Folio is the only text we have for All's Well, and you would think editors would treat it with more respect as they do, for example, Macbeth. In Macbeth, everybody knows that the scenes with the Hecate and their songs are almost certainly spurious, and nobody thinks they are by Shakespeare. Yet they appear in every edition of Macbeth. All's Well receives no such respect. Editors change words and every edition I've looked at spells Helena's name wrong, as I just did. "What can he mean!?" Read Characters to find out.
All's Well that End's Well, Hunter, G.K. (George Kirkpatrick, 1920-2008), editor, Arden Second Series, Methuen, London, 1959.
As for editors not accepting what Shakespeare wrote, I rode this hobby-horse so hard that I needed a whole page for it. Please see Improving Shakespeare.
In some cases we also have a Quarto text to compare with the Folio, but there is no known Quarto text for All's Well.
In his obituary The Guardian states "Hunter's first major publication,
under the patronage of Muir, was the Arden All's Well That Ends Well, still the best edition of the play 50 years on." Hunter's is the edition I have referred to most frequently in this, my own edition. Hunter was one of those amazing English scholars who served in naval convoy duty in World War II, then joined British Naval Intelligence in Ceylon, before getting his doctorate at Oxford after the war.
All's Well that End's Well, Claire McEachern editor, The Pelican Shakespeare, London, 2001. Pelican's scholarship is reliable if not as far-ranging as Arden's--Arden, for example, prints the entire Painter adaptation of Boccaccio's novel, which you may not need. And Arden, at this writing costs $13.95 and Pelican costs $8.00. Folger and Signet are also reliable choices (and they're even cheaper!).
Incidentally, I recommend that the actor avoid Shakespeare "translations," for two reasons:
Bible, The, Old and New Testaments and Apocrypha: Shakespeare knew it intimately though nobody knows which translation he used (he probably used several).
1. Shakespeare wrote in Modern English, the language we speak, and he doesn't need to be "translated"; and
2. Translations of Shakespeare are generally wrong. It's not controversial to say that Shakespeare knew exactly what he wanted his characters to say, nor to say that he had the vocabulary that lets the characters say exactly what he meant. When I taught at J*ll*rd, somebody brought in a "modern language" version of As You Like It, and persuaded the school's directors to have the students rehearse it. The students immediately renamed this adaptation "Like You Like It."
Most critics think that Shakespeare used the Geneva Bible, but the King James Version (KJV) will give you a serviceable idea of what the words were which Shakespeare had read, because The Geneva Bible and almost all the other contemporary editions are based on William Tyndale's translations.
Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, The by Russ McDonald contains just about all the historical information about Shakespeare you'll ever need, including things like how much money he made and what he ate for lunch.
William Tyndale was the first English translator to seek out and use Greek texts for the New Testament and Hebrew texts for the Old Testament (instead of translating from the Latin Vulgate (see below). Tyndale did not manage to translate the entire Bible. He published his last translations in 1536, just before he was burnt at the stake for his scholastic labors.
In a world filled with Shakespeare crackpots, of whom I am one, McDonald keeps a clear head.
Castle of Perseverance, The is available at any big library or very conveniently on line at http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama/comedy/castle.html (retrieved April 18, 2016). My own translation of the introductory section is at Castle.
Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional Englsh, Eric Partridge, fifth edition, New York, 1961. Partridge made a mighty effort, but no printed book can keep up with slang. Partridge is particularly good for slang that was used during the first World War. He is also the author of Shakespeare's Bawdy, a scholarly compendium of Shakespeare's use of words for bawdy purposes. But nobody can discern and define all the various meanings and implications in Shakespeare's language. And if you want contemporary slang, you should try urbandictionary.com (retrieved October 23, 2016).
Elizabethan World Picture, The by E. M. W. Tillyard is generally agreed to be the best discussion of the world-view of Shakespeare's time, by which we mean the philosophical and religious background ($11.75 new at Amazon, one penny used).
Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays by A. C. Cawley is a very good sampling of the plays Shakespeare had seen (I think) in his youth including "The Fall of Man" and "Cain and Abel," minimally and unobtrusively edited.
You can also find many of the medieval plays on line if you hunt for York, Wakefield, Robin Hood, etc. Many of the plays are available, for example at the University of Michigan's Corpus of Middle English Prose. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/ (retrieved September 24, 2013).
Folio (also known as the First Folio and frequently abbreviated F): in 1623 Heminges and Condell, two actors from Shakespeare's company, published the Folio edition of his collected works, a large (9" x 14") and expensive book (price: one pound). The First Folio was followed by the Second Folio (F2; 1632), Third Folio (F3; 1663) and the Fourth Folio (F4; 1685) Each edition of the Folio variously corrected existing errors and added new ones. The Third Folio (F3) added one play which Shakespeare wrote (Pericles) and six which he did not write.
The Folio contained all Shakespeare's plays except Pericles (not included in a Folio edition until F3) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (which was never included in a Shakespeare Folio), including eighteen of his plays which had never before been printed. Applause has published an edition in modern type, or you can buy a facsimile from Norton. The Applause edition is probably more useful. Also see Quarto.
Greek Myths, The by Robert Graves is comprehensive in its discussion of Greek mythology. Graves also discusses the anthropological bases for the myths. You'll get more out of All's Well if you know the attributes of Artemis, whom the Romans worshipped as Diana. But to find out the correspondences between the Greek and Roman myths, you'd have to look at Hamilton's Mythology (see below).
Mythology by Edith Hamilton has concise and literate retellings of Greek and Roman myths, plus some Norse ones.
Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is generally considered the best and most authoritive dictionary of the language, containing etymologies and historical usages. The 20-volume paper edition costs more than $1,000, but you can buy the CD-ROM version for around $200. And if your local library has a subscription, you can use it for free. It has information you won't find anywhere else. For example, "merry," at one time, meant "tipsy," and the OED cites this quotation:
Mr. Verdon . . . returning home pretty merry, took occasion to murder a man on the road.
Quarto: some of Shakespeare's plays were published during his lifetime (and afterwards) in quarto form, a book which was about 9" x 7", half the size of the Folio (see above).
The Quarto editions were usually published while the play was still being produced to take advantage of its popularity. There is no evidence that Shakespeare ever supervised the printing of any of his plays; to the contrary, all editions of them have errors and misprints which he would, we assume, have corrected. You can view all the Quartos on line at the British Library's wonderfful site,http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/homepage.html (retrieved April 21, 2016).
Shakespeare's Bawdy by Eric Partridge has been reprinted many, many times. The only problem with it is that it, like all specialized Shakespeare glossaries, is incomplete, and you usually have to consult the OED to get all the meanings of a particular word.
Shaw on Shakespeare, edited by Edwin Wilson, is back in print, thanks to Glenn Young of Applause Books and Hal Leonard Corp. Shaw's ideas about Shakespeare are frequently wrong--yes, I have the temerity to say that--but when he criticizes stupid and lunk-headed directorial choices in Shakespeare productions, he's generally squarely on Shakespeare's side, right on the money, and hilarious.
Sources, Shakespeare's sources: almost any good edition of a play (including paperbacks like Folger, Signet, Pelican and Arden) will tell you something about the sources for that play to the best of the editor's ability. Most editions of All's Well don't emphasize its morality play structure.
Vulgate Bible: in 382 Pope Damasus I commissioned St. Jerome to revise the existing Latin translations of the Four Gospels by comparison with the best existing Greek texts. His result is known as the Vulgate, short for Versio Vulgata, the "commonly-used" version.
When St. Jerome had finished the Gospels, he continued to do most of the rest of the Bible, using not only the Greek sources but also Aramaic and Hebrew. He had unknown collaborators and various books of his translation have markedly different styles. There was resistance to the use of St. Jerome's Bible by people who preferred the Old Latin text they were familiar with (Vetus Latinus), but gradually his edition became the standard--with various regional modifications--and it was the standard for about a thousand years, from about 400-1550, until William Tyndale began the first English translations based on the original Greek and Hebrew. The famous Gutenberg Bible is an edition of the Vulgate.
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