This chapter describes the range and type of variant readings introduced by subsequent generations of editors in a short sample scene in King Lear. It shows that even the earliest publishers of Shakespeare's works were acutely aware of the impact of the textual and paratextual features of their editions on their readers. It reviews the impact of the rise of scholarly editorial tradition on the transmission of Shakespeare in print from the early eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. The tendency to monumentalize rather than to edit Shakespeare systematically continued despite the increasing stress placed on justifying and supporting editorial intervention by means of a thorough collation of the early editions. A renewed interest in the medium of print as fashioning rather than corrupting ‘textual Shakespeare’ has led increasing numbers of scholars and research students to work with facsimiles or digital images of the early editions, now available online.
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