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Bad Quartos & False Folios


A Bad Quarto refers to those works purported to be by Shakespeare but seen as spurious or pirated and not reflecting the author's true text. It is a theory first devised in 1909 by Alfred W. Pollard to explain extant texts which differ in detail and quality from other known, printed works by Shakespeare - what Heminges and Condell refer to in The First Folio as "diverse stolen and surreptitious copies". The theory and its attendant hypothesis of "memorial reconstruction" has been widely debated, with some studies showing actors reconstructing dialogue and plot-lines years after the fact in not nearly as a faulty a manner as the Bad Quarto hypothesis supposes. Others argue the Bad Quartos are versions of the official text, edited for companies playing to less educated audiences, perhaps in small towns with time and troupe restraints. Some maintain the so-called Bad Quartos, along with what many consider Shakespeare's source plays and various apocrypha falsely ascribed to Shakespeare, are actually earlier versions of the plays later revised by the author.

 For its part, The Shakespeare Tarot has its own history of Bad Quartos, most notable being the Strength and Justice cards of the infamous False Folio which interchanged the cards' order, replacing Shylock with Portia and Innogen with Helena in the process. The facsimiles which follow are good-faith reproductions of these Bad Quartos, shorn of long-established editorial traditions and conflated occlusions, complete with antique type, non-standardised spelling, archaic orthographic conventions, unfamiliar and irregular speech prefixes, and rudimentary polygenesis. Together with newly restored images, an historical revision of each card's theatrical pedigree is provided for both students and scholars of Shakespeare, Tarot, and The Shakespeare Tarot alike.  




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