Finally, Free First Folios! Fun!

In the past we’ve spoken of the ideal Shakespeare collection to carry around with you, particularly on a digital device. Well, Oxford University has just provided us a new and exciting offering by providing free EPUB versions of the 36 original First Folio texts:

I’ve literally just started pulling these down in the last few minutes so I haven’t had a chance to really let it sink in. Unfortunately due to the nature of the medium, they’ve basically translated the original to a usable font and what you end up left with looks like a badly spelled version of what you read in high school.

What I’m still hoping for one of these days is for someone to properly combine scans of the images, with the ability to treat them as text – copy and paste, highlight, search, all that good stuff. But I think that when we lose the original images, where we can no longer see the line breaks and such and fully appreciate the flow of the whole, it’s just not the same.

Still, though! A step in the right direction!

3 thoughts on “Finally, Free First Folios! Fun!

  1. I already have both the original 1969 Norton facsimile (paper) and the epubs from Gutenberg (on my computer). Since this outfit has no accommodations for Linux users and you MUST use ipod/itunes format, I'll have to boot Windows(AGGGHHH) sometime to check it out.
    But I'm curious enough about what "…reformatted to fit modern standards" means to do it…sometime in the future.:)

  2. I expect it's very similar to existing versions, JM – I meant only that when you no longer see an actual image of the page, much can be lost. I find joy in reading the original pages, far moreso than in trying to navigate this:

    Gonz. Hee'l be hang'd yet,
    Though euery drop of water sweare against it,
    And gape at widst to glut him. A confused noyse within.
    Mercy on vs.
    We split, we split, Farewell my wife, and children,
    Farewell brother: we split, we split, we split.

    Know what I mean? I find no enlightenment there.

    The files, by the way, are straight ePub format, and the Calibre reader works excellent across a number of platforms including Linux. I think Apple's going to require that you use iTunes to *get* the files, but at least once you've gotten them you can switch back.

  3. Yeah. Know what you mean.
    I've formatted several Folio versions of single plays for performance.There are ways to make it much more reminiscent of the original –and easier to read and make sense of as a play. I know, personally, how much work it is to type out this stuff. But you'd think if they're going to go to the trouble of doing it at all, they'd care more about delineating fonts and type size, stage directions, etc. in the transfer to paint a clearer picture of what's going on. So far, any of the versions I've seen don't do that–except my own "plain vanilla" versions. 🙂
    Thanks for the app tip.

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