SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616)
Measure for Measure
London: Printed by Tho. Cotes, 1632. Folio. (12 1/8 x 8 1/2 inches). 61-84pp.
Expertly bound to style in panelled calf, covers tooled in blind, upper cover lettered in gilt
Second Folio edition of Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure', the classic, gripping tale of power, morality, and corruption, as the Duke of Vienna seeks to restore order and justice to a city consumed by vice and debauchery.
Shakespeare's famed four folios comprise the first four editions of his collected plays, all printed in the 17th century. The Second Folio of 1632, like the First Folio of 1623, contains 36 plays. It is estimated that fewer than 1000 copies of the Second Folio were printed and fewer than 200 copies are in existence today. In "Measure for Measure," the Duke of Vienna takes leave of his post in order to avoid cleaning up the increasingly morally bankrupt city of Vienna, and puts his deputy, Angelo, in charge. Angelo begins his rule by installing a law criminalizing sex outside of marriage, and sentences to death a man named Claudio, who has impregnanted his fiancee, Juliet. As Claudio's sister, Isabella, tries to save Claudio from his imminent death, the Duke of Vienna, Angelo, and Angelo's fiancee, Mariana, become caught in a web of love, lies, and desperation. The Shakespeare Folios have "an aura of book magic about them. For a bibliophile it is a volume devoutly to be wished for and rarely attained; to a library it is a crowning jewel of a collection. Shakespeare, indeed, is a name to conjure with. No lengthy explanations are needed; he is simply the most distinguished author in the English language" (Wolf).
STC 22274a. Pforzheimer 906. Greg III, 1113-1116. Jaggard, 496; Wolf, Legacies of Genius, 36.