Old Timey Announcement
#1
I hope to be releasing, as soon as possible,

The Plays of William Shakespeare
in twelve digital (pdf) volumes,
edited and annotated by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens,
with illustrations from the Boydell Folio.
The Plays shall be arranged, not by their traditional categories,
but in chronological order, according to modern scholarship.
The contents of the volumes being prepared shall be as follows,
although I may revise them according to volume length
or the demands of the public (you!):

Volume 1. Prefatory Materials.
Volume 2. The Early Plays. 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona,
The Taming of the Shrew,
and The First Part of Henry VI.
Volume 3. The Earlier Henriad.
The Second Part of Henry VI,
The Third Part of Henry VI,
Titus Andronicus,
and Richard III.
Volume 4. The Lyrical Plays.
The Comedy of Errors,
Love's Labour's Lost,
and Richard II.
Volume 5. The Lyrical Plays.
Romeo and Juliet,
A Midsummer-Night's Dream,
and
King John.
Volume 6. The Later Henriad.
The Merchant of Venice,
The First Part of Henry IV,
and
The Second Part of Henry IV.
Volume 7. The Later Henriad.
Much Ado About Nothing,
The Merry Wives of Windsor,
and
Henry V.
Volume 8. The Central Plays.
Julius Caesar,
As You Like It,
Twelfth-Night,
and
Hamlet.
Volume 9. The Problem Plays.
Troilus and Cressida,
Measure for Measure,
and
All's Well that Ends Well.
Volume 10. The Jacobean Tragedies.
Othello,
King Lear,
and
Timon of Athens.
Volume 11. The Jacobean Tragedies.
Macbeth,
Antony and Cleopatra,
and
Coriolanus.
Volume 12. The Late Romances.
Cymbeline,
The Winter's Tale,
The Tempest,
and
Henry VIII.
Appendices and Indices.

I promised something like this before, but I lost those copies soon enough, when my computer broke down. But now I'm committed! I'm a little torn with the way the plays are arranged, though: I fear the arrangement might be unwieldy, since sections like "The Later Henriad" don't contain all the plays traditionally considered to be part of that cycle, as well as plays that are unrelated (although were released at the same time).

There are a few thematic concessions already, I will note: 1 Henry VI, according to most of my sources, was written after 3 Henry VI as a prequel; Much Ado About Nothing here precedes The Merry Wives of Windsor, when my sources relate that the latter was probably finished and released while the author was in the middle of writing 2 Henry IV; and Twelfth Night is often considered to have been finished and released after Hamlet. I will also note that, before, I would have released the first edition of Johnson's Plays of Shakespeare, but the second edition incorporates many of his notes relegated to the former's appendix, as well as some new, important observations.

As for why this is worth getting, and whether this is all legal:

Yes, this is all legal. The copy of Johnson-Steevens-Shakespeare, I got from Wikimedia Commons, and my copies of both these plays and an incomplete reprint of the Boydell Folio all have lapsed copyrights.

This is only the canonical plays -- ie, the plays in the first folio -- without the poems or plays like Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen. At first, I wondered whether to get this, or the later edition of the annotated plays as compiled by Edmond Malone, another contemporary of Samuel Johnson, but that later edition was so full of annotations, largely from Malone or from other respondents to Johnson, that I figured it would deter from the plays too much, even if Malone is the more reliable scholar. And really, that's why I'm releasing these plays: not for the scholarship, but for the criticism.

Not that Dr. Johnson's scholarship wasn't any good. The principles that Dr. Johnson outlined in his Preface are, many of them, considered the founding principles of modern textual scholarship, in particular his respect for available early editions, and his reluctance to emend for purely stylistic reasons, the opposite of which was in vogue among all of the editors Dr. Johnson followed. But it's such observations on style and value as in his Preface, or his notes to Macbeth, Hamlet, and the Later Henriad -- his criticism -- that makes Dr. Johnson the most respected literary critic of his day, in fact one of the most respected literary critics of all time, and this edition one worth perusing.
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#2
THE ORDER HAS BEEN REVISED
to make each document closer in length to each other,
although the chronological arrangement, by necessity,
is less traditional, instead conforming to more statistical
and technological analyses of Shakespeare's works.

Volume One. Prefaces.
Volume Two. The Early Plays.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona,
The First Part of Henry VI,
The Second Part of Henry VI,
and The Third Part of Henry VI.
Volume Three. The Early Plays.
The Life and Death of Richard III
Titus Andronicus,
The Taming of the Shrew,
and The Comedy of Errors.
Volume Four. The Lyrical Plays.
Love's Labour's Lost,
Romeo and Juliet,
A Midsummer-Night's Dream,
and The Life and Death of Richard II.
Volume Five. The Central Plays.
The Life and Death of King John,
The Merchant of Venice,
Much Ado About Nothing,
and As You Like It.
Volume Six. Falstaff and Hamlet.
The First Part of Henry IV,
The Second Part of Henry IV,
Julius Caesar,
and Hamlet.
Volume Seven. The Central Plays.
The Merry Wives of Windsor,
The Life of Henry V,
Twelfth-Night,
and Troilus and Cressida.
Volume Eight. The Later Plays.
Measure for Measure,
All's Well That Ends Well,
Othello,
and King Lear.
Volume Nine. The Later Plays.
Timon of Athens,
Macbeth,
Antony and Cleopatra,
and Coriolanus.
Volume Ten. The Late Romances.
Cymbeline, 
The Winter's Tale,
The Tempest,
and Henry VIII.
Appendices and Indices.

What I did this time was to compile word and line counts of Shakespeare's plays, put them next to a list of ranks (from earliest to latest) based on what sources I could find -- Chambers, Brainerd, three Oxford releases, and Bruster-Smith -- form an aggregate ranking based on the averages of all the ranks, then compare all of the ranks with the word and line counts to create nine or eleven -- ultimately I went with nine, because the differences in word and line counts were less outrageous -- volumes which had the least amount of deviation from the mean number of words and lines per book. Ultimately, I found the 1987 Oxford Chronology to be the most precise in terms of word and line count, but the Bruster-Smith one I found to be the most thematically interesting, so I sort-of fused those two together with the aggregate ranking to form this chronology. Science and art perfectly misapplied.

Oh, and progress report: I've finished chopping up, bookmarking, and inserting the pictures to 7 1/2 of the 10 original volumes. Hopefully I finish all these by this weekend.
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#3
It is finished!

....or is it? If the point of what I shall soon be uploading here -- hopefully tomorrow -- were just the notes, I would consider the product finished, but aside from finding a more consistent copy of more of Boydell's plates, I also find that some of the editorial choices here made -- expanding words like "th'offertory" to "the offertory", for example, thus ruining the meter -- as well as some obvious mistakes to be inexcusable. I want both Johnson's commentary and Shakespeare's text to be equally intelligible, even if there are better editions of the latter out there.

Hence, consider what shall soon be posted as a proof of concept, or perhaps a first draft, although what shall follow is a slight reversion, since I have no copy of the 1778 edition, and I refuse to turn to Malone's rather bloated 1790 version. The proper version shall be Johnson's first, which I hope is as clean as when I first considered it: I must admit it's the copy I've actually worked with before starting on this project.

Oh, an additional consideration: throughout the process of working on this first draft, I have found it hard, in many places, to insert an illustration without ruining a passage, whether of commentary or of speech, since scene breaks -- the most natural place to insert them -- so rarely happen at the end of pages, and the illustrations themselves lose much of their value (as they would not, were they simply printed out) too far divorced from their scenes. The new version might not have the pictures inserted -- instead, I might deliver them through a separate folder.
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