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In this edition of SHAKESPEARE an attempt is made to present the greater plays of the dramatist in their literary aspect, and not merely as material for the study of philology or grammar. Criticism purely verbal and textual has only been included to such an extent as may serve to help the student in the appreciation of the essential poetry. Questions of date and literary history have been fully dealt with in the Introductions, but the larger space has been devoted to the interpretative rather than the matter-of-fact order of scholarship. Æsthetic judgments are never final, but the Editors have attempted to suggest points of view from which the analysis of dramatic motive and dramatic character
may be profitably undertaken. In the Notes likewise, while it is hoped that all unfamiliar expressions and allusions have been adequately explained, yet it has been thought even more important to consider the dramatic value of each scene, and the part which it plays in relation to the whole. These general principles are common to the whole series; in detail each Editor is alone responsible for the play or plays that have been intrusted to him.
Every volume of the series has been provided with a Glossary, an Essay upon Metre, and an Index; and Appendices have been added upon points of special interest which could not conveniently be treated in the Introduction or the Notes. The text is based by the several Editors on that of the Globe edition.
APPENDIX A - The Preface and Prologue to
Dryden and Davenant's The Tempest or
the Enchanted Island
Interpretation of The Tempest
1. THE DATE OF THE PLAY
The date of The Tempest is one of the most vexed problems of Shakespearean criticism, and cannot be fixed with complete certainty. The play was printed for the first time, as far as we know, in the collected edition of Shakespeare's works, 1623, known as the First Folio. Thus all conclusions as to its date must be based upon any existing records in connection with performances, upon internal evidence, or upon conjectural allusions in contemporary writings.
Hunter, in his Disquisition on the Scene, Origin, Date, &c. of Shakespeare's Tempest (1839), assigned the play to the spring or summer of 1596. He identified it with Love's Labour's Won mentioned by Francis Meres in his list of twelve of Shakespeare's plays (1598), and considered that its references to travelers' tales were inspired by Raleigh's narrative of his Voyage to Guiana (1596). Hunter further assumed that Ben Jonson, in the Prologue to Every Man in his Humour," was alluding to The Tempest in the following lines :
“He rather prays you will be pleased to see
There's hope left then,
i We know of no performance of Every Man in his Humour before 1598, but Hunter without warrant identified it with The Umers mentioned in Henglowe's Diary, Nov. 25, 1596, since proved by Fleay to be Chapman's Humorous Day's Mirth.