Hamlet (1917) Yale/Appendix C


The Text

Three versions of Hamlet have survived. These are: the Quarto[1] of 1603; the Quarto of 1604; and the text of the First Folio (1623). All three of these texts differ from each other. Modern texts are based upon the Quarto of 1604 and the First Folio.

The Quarto of 1603 offers many perplexing problems. It is a brief[2] and mutilated text and the order of the scenes varies from that of the two accepted texts. The title-page is as follows:

THE | Tragicall Historie of | HAMLET | Prince of Denmarke | By William Shake-speare. | As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse Seruants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Vniuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where [Vignette] | At London printed for N. L. and Iohn Trundell. | 1603.

It is probable that this text was a pirated edition based upon notes taken in shorthand during a performance at the theatre. The differences, however, in the order of the scenes, the alteration in the conception of Gertrude's character, the almost total omission of the soliloquies, and the less subtle and elaborate dialogue throughout would seem to indicate that Hamlet was thoroughly revised before the publication of the second Quarto in 1604. Last of all, as tending to confirm this supposition, is the fact that certain of the characters appear under altered names in the later text; Corambis becomes Polonius, and Montano, Reynaldo.[3]

The text of the present edition is substantially that of Craig's Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford University Press).

The departures from this are of three kinds: (1) the stage directions of the first Folio (1623) or of the second Quarto (1604) have been restored wherever these existed, additional stage directions not found in the two original texts being placed in square brackets; (2) passages or whole lines occurring in the second Quarto, but not in the first Folio, have been enclosed in square brackets; (3) in a few instances a return has been made to the reading of the first Folio when the editor was of the opinion that an emendation of the text was unnecessary.

The following is a list of the alterations of the Craig text under (3), the words of the present text and of the first Folio preceding the colon, those of Craig's text following it. Minor changes of spelling and punctuation have not been noted.

I. ii. 82 moods: modes
I. ii. 190 Saw? Who?: Saw who?
I. ii. 191 The king, my father?: The king, my father!
I. ii. 200 Arm'd at all points: Armed at points
I. ii. 216 it: its
I. iii. 109 Roaming: Running
I. iii. 130 bonds: bawds
I. iv. 45 father, royal Dane; O! answer: father; royal Dane, O! answer
I. iv. 79 wafts: waves
I. v. 107 My tables, my tables: My tables
I. V. 133 hurling: whirling
I. V. 174 or thus, head shake; or this head-shake
II. ii. 45 God, one: God and
II. ii. 324 in form and moving: in form, in moving
II. ii. 388 [delete] 'very'
II. ii. 448 abridgments come: abridgment comes
II. ii. 463 my lord?: my good lord
II. ii. 483 arms: arm
III. i. 117 you: thee
III. ii. 43 with us, sir: with us
III. ii. 313 loves: love
III. ii. 383 excellent: eloquent
IV. vii. 93 Lamond: Lamord
V. i. 345 it: its
V. ii. 358 O good Horatio: O God! Horatio

  1. The text is published in Furness' Variorum Hamlet, vol. II.
  2. It is about half the length of the Quarto of 1604.
  3. Cf. also "Duke" and "Duchess" in place of King and Queen in The Murder of Gonzago; and "First Centinel" for Francisco.