'Hence shall we see
If power change purpose, what our seemers be'
Act 1, Sc. 3
All power corrupts, runs the axiom, and when the Duke of Vienna hands power over to the virtuous Angelo, it is not long before the would-be reformer reveals his own ﬂaws. He offers to save the brother of novice nun Isabella, condemned to death for lechery, if she will surrender her virginity to him. The disguised Duke observes all, yet when he returns to bring order and justice, the expected happy ending turns sour. In the play’s ﬁnal ﬁve lines, the Duke proposes that he himself marry Isabella. She makes no reply. Such an ending leaves a range of possibilities – is she pleased? angry? undecided? Is the play’s ending a happy ﬁnale, or the exchange of one tyrant for another?
The play’s title recalls a verse from St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ But the play presents conundrums about justice, liberty and mercy that do not permit a tidy completion – indeed, that call such a sentiment into question.
Please note that Letterpress Shakespeare volumes are bound to order and may take up to 6 weeks to be delivered.
If you are a collector of all the volumes we have published so far in the series, we have reserved your individual limitation number for you.
Delivery of limited editions may take longer than standard editions. Please contact us for more information.
From the choice of text and meticulously designed pages to the mould-made paper and unsurpassed art of letterpress printing, attention has been lavished on every facet of the reading experience.
The result is a fit and harmonious balance between the internal and external: a volume which is not only a delight to look at and hold, but a joy to read; formed not for mere display, but to satisfy the passion for his language felt by all those who love Shakespeare.
Produced to the highest standards, using only the finest materials and processes, each volume is a work of art in its own right.
The layout of words on a printed page is as much an art as such ancient techniques as Chinese or Arabic calligraphy. Here, the text is designed by eye and set on a manual machine, not a computer. Each letter of type has been created from hot metal in the rarely used 16-point font of 'Monotype' Baskerville, chosen for its clarity and elegance of form. Tiny irregularities testify to the hand-crafted nature of the process, since the shape of each line, the very gap between letters, is adjusted by hand to create the most pleasing overall effect.
A book is a pleasure of many senses: the feel of it in the hands, even the smell of the leather and ink all contribute to the enjoyment. Running your fingers over the paper, the difference between letterpress and litho printing is instantly discernable. You can feel the indentation where each letter has been impressed into the mould-made paper. This high quality paper is made from cotton rags and wood fibres dried on a cylindrical mould which produces the feathered edge known as the ‘deckle’. The quarter-binding is of finest goatskin leather, dyed to a rich colour. The pattern on the hand-marbled paper sides is unique to each volume.
The craftsmen and women who work on these volumes are rightly proud of their involvement in the project. From the hand-sewing of the pages to the blocking of each label in 24-carat gold, few books have had such care lavished on them. You can be confident that these exceptional editions will give pleasure for generations to come.
Cotton mixed with pure wood fibres dries slowly on a cylindrical mould to make this specialist paper. When the sheets are removed, the feathered edge at the sides is called the 'deckle'. The high cotton content ensures the paper is stronger and will retain its distinctive quality for generations, which is why artists and galleries choose it for fine art prints and etchings. The pages are folded in sections of eight for a perfectly flat opening to the spine, and only the top edge is trimmed.
Top edge gilding is a traditional finish, protecting books' exposed tops from dust, moisture or atmospheric pollution. The three-quarter binding of finest Nigerian goatskin leather is dyed for an exact match, but the gold and scarlet pattern on the hand-marbled paper sides is unique to each volume, since the exact pattern of droplets can never be repeated.
Each volume is strictly limited in number and many are reserved for existing collectors. Total limitation 1,000. Each copy will be numbered on a limitation page.