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The First Folio of Shakespeare
Printed in the large “folio” size, the First Folio is the first collected edition of the plays of William Shakespeare. It was put together after his death in 1616 by two fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, and was published in 1623. The book contains the complete text of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. The principal publishers were Edward Blount (1565–1632), a London bookseller and publisher, and Isaac Jaggard (died 1627), son of William Jaggard (circa 1568–1623), a printer and publisher long associated with Shakespeare, who died ...
This 1594 copy of Titus Andronicus is the only known copy of this quarto in existence, and, along with a version of Henry VI, Part 2 from the same year, is the earliest extant printed Shakespeare play. Quartos printed after about 1598 often display the name William Shakespeare; as this is an earlier quarto, the name of the acting company is shown instead. Quarto editions of the plays, which began to appear in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, were inexpensive and were sold unbound, sometimes in small numbers ...
A Dream Play
August Strindberg (1849–1912) was one of Sweden’s most important writers. From the 1870s until his death, he was a dominant figure in Swedish literary circles. Internationally, he is known for his plays. Strindberg grew up in Stockholm and studied at Uppsala University. From 1874 to 1882 he worked at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm. It was there that he acquired much of his considerable knowledge of cultural history and literature. His breakthrough came in 1879 with publication of the novel The Red Room. Strindberg traveled extensively ...
Secret Edition of the Northern Western Wing Corrected by Mr. Zhang Shenzhi
The Yuan dynasty drama, Story of the Western Wing, by Wang Shifu, is the finest dramatic work of traditional China. It ranks with Tang Xianzu’s Peony Pavilion, Kong Shangren’s Peach Blossom Fan, and Hong Sheng’s Palace of Everlasting Life as one of the four great classical dramas of pre-modern China, and has had a far-reaching influence on the literature and theatrical history of China. The plot of the drama is a reworking of the short work, The Story of Yingying (also titled Encounter with an Immortal) by ...
Masked Men of the Theater Acting in "Topéing," Java, Indonesia
This photograph of a theatrical performance in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and ...
The Life of Meriasek
Until recently, when Beunans Ke came to light, Beunans Meriasek was the only known saint's play in Middle Cornish. St Meriasek was of Breton origin. The play presents his career, starting with his early education in Brittany and his arrival in Cornwall, recounting the various miracles he performed, then moves on to his return to Brittany, where he became Bishop of Vannes and eventually died a Christian death. Incorporated into the narrative are a number of individual tales, including incidents from the life of St. Sylvester and a miracle ...
Books 1–5 of History. Ethiopian Story. Book 8: From the Departure of the Divine Marcus
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
This Greek text on papyrus, written around 200 BC in Hermopolis, Egypt, has seven lines of writing containing parts of verses 338–344 from the first chorus of Orestes. Composed in 408 BC by the Greek tragedian Euripides (circa 480 BC–406 BC), the play recounts the story of Orestes, who kills his mother Clytaemnestra to avenge the death of his father, Agamemnon, and is pursued by the Furies for this deed. In addition to a passage of a chorus song (stasimon), the fragment contains vocal and instrumental symbols written ...
Manuscript Edition of Romance of the West Chamber in Manchu and Chinese Languages
This is a manuscript edition of the popular play Xi xiang ji (Romance of the west chamber) by Wang Shifu (circa 1250–1307), a Yuan dynasty playwright about whom little is known. Fourteen plays are attributed to him, of which only three are extant. Perhaps the best known and most popular is this work, which was written in the poetic drama form called za ju that was popular during the Yuan dynasty. Based on a Tang dynasty novel entitled Yingying zhuan (Story of Yingying), the drama narrates a tragic love ...
In Praise of the Most Serene Ferdinand, King of Spain, 'Baetic' and Ruler of Granada, Besieger, Victor, Triumphant: And On the Recently Discovered Islands in the Indian Sea
This book is a compilation of two texts, both relating to events in the momentous year of 1492. The first is a drama in Latin by an Italian author, Carlo Verardi (Carolus Verardus), written in a combination of verse and prose, which recounts the military campaign during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to capture Granada, the last Moorish territory on the Iberian Peninsula. The annexation of Granada marked the end of eight centuries of Muslim rule in Spain and Portugal and concluded the long struggle known in ...
Farce of the Lions at Stone Bridge
The Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) was documented in various forms of media, such as woodblock prints, photographs, and illustrations. The victories of the Japanese military in the early stages of the war inspired propaganda prints by Japanese artists. Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) contributed this farcical single-sheet print to the series, Nihon banzai hyakusen hyakushō (Long live Japan: 100 victories, 100 laughs). Kiyochika, known for producing woodblock prints using Western painting methods, had been under the brief tutelage of Charles Wirgman (1832–91), an English cartoonist for the Illustrated London News ...
Gao Ming (circa 1305–59) was a Han Chinese from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. After a frustrating official career, he left the service, retired to Yinxian (present-day Ningbo), and made a new life writing dramas. He was the author of Pi pa ji (The lute), based on a southern folk opera, Zhao zhen nu (A girl of virtue called Zhao). The two main characters in the drama, Cai Yong and Zhao Wuniang, are transformed into a loyal and filial couple in Gao Ming’s opera, which was well received and honored ...
The Story of Pei Du, Who Returned the Belt He Had Found at the Fragrant Hill
This work is based on a play by the notable Yuan dynasty playwright, Guan Hanqing (circa 1225–1302), Shan shen miao Pei Du huan dai (Pei Du returned the belt at the Temple of Mountain Deity). Ming dynasty playwright Shen Cai revised the story under the title Xin kan chong ding chu xiang fu shi biao zhu Pei Du Xiangshan huan dai ji (The story of Pei Du, who returned the belt he had found at the fragrant hill). Shen’s play follows the Yuan poetic drama format, called si ...
Mulian Rescues His Mother
Xin ke chu xiang yin zhu Quan shan Mulian jiu mu xing xiao xi wen (Mulian rescues his mother) is a drama by Ming playwright Zheng Zhizhen (1518–95). The story originated from Fo shuo Yulanben jing, a Chinese translation by Dharmaraksa during the Western Jin dynasty (265–316) of the Indian Ullambana sutra, which tells the story of Mulian, one of the Syakamuni Buddha’s closest disciples and endowed with supernatural powers. Maudgalyāyana in the original sutra is Mulian in the Chinese version. After Mulian’s mother dies, she ...
The Story of the Embroidered Coat, with Commentary by Chen Meigong
Xiu ru ji (Story of the embroidered coat) by Ming dynasty author Xue Jingun is considered the most complete version of the tale of the lovers Li Yaxian and Zheng Yuanhe. The tale originated in folk legends, which Tang author Bai Xingjian (776–826) used as the basis of his short story Li Wa zhuan (Life of Li Wa). Bai Xingjian’s work served as a model for writers of later generations who retold the same tale. Xue Jingun’s version has 41 scenes and begins with Zheng Yuanhe on ...
The Peony Pavilion
The play Mu dan ting huan hun ji (The peony pavilion) is by Tang Xianzu (1550–1616), a native of Linchuan, Jiangsu Province. Tang achieved the degree of jin shi in 1583 and assumed several posts, but he was demoted as a consequence of a memorial he wrote. Later reinstated as district magistrate of Shuichang, Zhejiang Province, Tang retired from this position in 1598. As a dramatist, he enjoyed great popularity, but his unpublished manuscripts were supposedly burnt by his sons. Four of his plays with the theme of dreams ...
Kanjinchō, One of the 18 Great Plays of Kabuki
Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) has been called the last great master of ukiyo-e. His dramatic Kabuki three-page sets of prints are much admired for their skilled use of color. Here he portrays Kanjinchō, a Kabuki play written earlier in the 19th century. This nishiki-e (Japanese multicolored woodblock print) was based on a performance of the play in May 1890 and published that year. The story is set in the late 12th century and shows at left Minamoto no Yoshitsune, played by Onoe Kikugorō V (1844–1903). Yoshitsune is a son ...
Three Noh Songs: Takasago, Kamo, and Kantan
This large manuscript book dates from the middle of the Edo period (1600–1867). The title is found on the endpaper, inside the front cover. The book contains libretto and music notations of three Noh chants or songs, Takasago, Kamo, and Kantan, accompanied by six colorful illustrations of Noh actors. The paper has gold-painted designs underneath the text. Noh, a classical form of Japanese musical drama, developed in the middle ages. Actors, chorus, and musicians all appear on the stage together. The music, like the movement, is stripped down to ...
A Doll's House
Few plays have had as much influence globally on social norms and conditions as A Doll’s House by the Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906). Considered one of the great figures of world literature, Ibsen gave theatrical art a new vitality by bringing into European bourgeois drama an ethical gravity, psychological depth, and social significance that the theater had lacked since the days of William Shakespeare. His plays portray people from the middle class of his day, whose routines are suddenly upset as they confront a deep crisis in ...
Roar! Gauntlets, 1908–1914
This work is a collection of poems, plays, and essays by the Russian futurist Velimir Khlebnikov (born Viktor Khlebnikov, 1885–1922). It opens with Khlebnikov’s statement on the unity of Slavs in the aftermath of the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The book includes a segment of his poem “The Wood Nymph and the Goblin,” the play Asparuh, and the drama in verse Marquise Dezes. It concludes with Khlebnikov’s reflections on railroads. The volume is illustrated by Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Burliuk. Khlebnikov was ...
Creations was a magazine produced by Hylaea, а Russian futurist group of which Velimir Khlebnikov (born Viktor Khlebnikov, 1885–1922) was one of the leading figures. This issue includes Khlebnikov’s poems, poetical fragments, and his play, The Little Devil. His works are preceded by two introductions, one by David Burliuk and another by Vasily Kamensky, both of whom were associated with Hylaea. They emphasize Khlebnikov’s talent and credit him with liberating words and imbuing them with grand meaning. Creations was illustrated by David and Vladimir Burliuk. Khlebnikov was ...