The Two Gentleman of Verona, by William Shakespeare, Limited Editions Club (1939)

The Two Gentleman of Verona is one of William Shakespeare’s earlier plays (some say the first) and critically among the least well regarded.  It is thought to have been written in the early 1590’s and was first printed in the folio of 1623. The play explores themes of love, friendship, treachery and highlights the irrationality and often absurd behavior of lovers. The play mixes blank verse and prose and is pretty simple, though entertaining and whimsical, to read.

As George Brandes mentions in the preface, the play does contain the great lyrical beauty we expect from later Shakespeare. For instance:

What light, is light, if Sylvia be not seene?
What joy is joy, if Sylvia is not by?
Except I be by Sylvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Sylvia in the day.
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence; and I leave to be,
If I be not by her fair influence
Foster’d, illumin’d, chersih’d, kept alive.

I just love the wisdom that Shakespeare so effortless waves into his dialogue. Valentine, one of the ‘Two Gentleman’, says to Proteus, the other ‘Gentleman’:

Love is your master, for he masters you;
And he that is so yoked by a foole,
Me thinkes should not be chronicled for wise.

More quotes to consider, reminding us how Shakespeare, even in one of his least regarded plays, mixes wisdom and eloquence like none other:

Fire that’s closest kept, burnes most of all.

Experience is by industry achiev’d,
And perfected by the swift course of time;
 
Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an Aprill day
Which now shewes all the beauty of the Sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away
 
If you love her, you cannot see her…
Because Love is blind
 
Love’s a mighty Lord
 
For Love is like a childe,
That longs for every thing that he can come by.
 
Hope is a lovers staff, walk hence with that
And manage it, against despairing thoughts;

What man has not taken the following to heart?

Win her with gifts, if she respect not words,
Dumbe Jewels often in their silent kinde
More tha quicke words, doe move a woman’s minde.

Remember, however, that not even jewels can bring you back from the abyss, as:

Love will not be spurd to what it loathes.

Of the Limited Editions Club (LEC) Shakespeare set, The Two Gentleman of Verona is one of my favorite productions due to the fantastic water-colors by the great French artist Pierre Brissaud (1885–1964).  Brissaud often produced  pochoir (stencil) prints, as was done in this edition. The colors just jump off the page, being rich, using deep and dark tones or various colors, highlighting a stunning interplay of light and shade. For this edition, each color was laid upon the drawings through a stencil with water-colors on top of a image created from a grey plate done via collotype.

About the Edition

  • Part of the 37 volume LEC Plays of William Shakespeare from 1939/1940
  • Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon
  • Designed by Bruce Rogers
  • Printed by A. Colish, New York
  • Illustrations from water-colors by Pierre Brissaud, reproduced in the ateliers Beaufume in Paris via stencil on top of a base printed via plate in grey via collotype (pochoir process)
  • Preface to the play (in the prospectus) by Georg Brandes
  • Type is an 18 point close facsimile of Janson, made by the Lanston Monotype Company, with the italic used being a creation of the Monotype Company since Rogers did not like the Janson 18 point italic; italic small capitals were made by re-cutting the Italic capitals of the Monotype Garamond Bold in a special size and with slight alterations of a few of the characters with a close new type face
  • New paper created for this edition by the Worthy Paper Company of Springfield
  • The binding was done by Russell-Rutter Company in New York
  • Bound with gilt tops and uncut edges in backs of American linen, with the titles stamped in gold on the spine
  • Cover design based on a decoration wall design in a house that that Shakespeare was thought to have stayed at frequently (a friend of his)
  • 8 3/4″ x 13″
  • Limited to 1950 copies, mine is #1820

Pictures of the Edition

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{Ed. Note: there is a small smudge on some of these pictures; it is a camera artifact, not on the book — the camera is being fixed!}

The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Spine and Cover
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Spine and Cover
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Spine and Cover
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Spine and Cover
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Macro of Spine
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Macro of Spine
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Macro of Spine 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club , Macro of Spine 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro Side View 1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro Side View 1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro Side View 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro Side View 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Set Title Page
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Set Title Page
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Set Title Page
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Frontispiece
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Frontispiece
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page 1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page 1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page 2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text #1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text #1
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #2
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #3
Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Prospectus
The Two Gentleman of Verona, Limited Editions Club, Prospectus

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