11 - 13 July 2000
RESTORATION DRAMA -- TATE, Nahum (1652-1715). The History of King Lear. Acted at the Duke's Theatre. Reviv'd with alterations by N. Tate. London: for E. Flesher, to be sold by R. Bentley and M. Magnes, 1681.
4° (203 x 152mm). (Lower margin of title shaved slightly affecting imprint, small soil mark on imprint and faint crease mark at lower right had corner of title, some headlines shaved with slight or partial loss, some catch-letters and catch-words cropped away, a few spots and dampstains, small repair at bottom margin of D4, final leaf soiled on verso.) Early 20th-century blue morocco, covers with central gilt ornament, gilt-lettered spine, gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt page edges (a little rubbed).
FIRST EDITION OF NAHUM TATE'S VERSION, important -- as Pforzheimer states -- because it held the stage throughout the 18th century. When first staged Betterton played Lear, and Mrs Barry, Cordelia. Although Addison protested against the outrage on Shakespeare (Spectator, no. 40), Tate won the critical approval of Johnson and others for his alleviation of the final tragedy, omitting the Fool and also working in a love plot between Edgar and Cordelia who, as he admits in the dedicatory epistle, 'never chang'd word with each other in the original.' Tragedy had become unfashionable, and Tate excused his happy ending on the grounds that the alternative 'must have incumbred the Stage with dead bodies, which Conduct makes many Tragedies conclude with unseasonable Jests.' Shakespeare's play was first printed by Nathaniel Butter in 1608. Bartlett 174; Jaggard p. 356; Pforzheimer 918; Wing S-2918.
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