Preserving Literature

As I browsed through the copies of Othello provided in the links above, I’d like to take a moment to talk about their condition for being such old copies. Though I know very little about the deterioration rate of things like books and plays that are so important to English literature, I do know that these could be in worse condition and it’s interesting to get a different perspective than the usual ones we students get as we read a modernly-typed version of things like Othello and Hamlet. Not to mention, I also noticed how the first word of the next page is always located at the bottom right-hand corner of every page.
Prompted by my English teacher to come up with a reason for such a thing, I think I’ve come up with a sound explanation. If these copies of the play were used to practice said play, one would assume it’s good to know the lines that are coming up next instead of having an awkward pause during the flip of a page. We tend to not do this now, with modern copies of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, and a lot of our formatting is different. As a play is repeatedly printed and edited to make it easier for modern readers, we also lose a lot of that original text and references that Shakespeare is known for putting into his works.
In the end, though, we have managed to keep quite an amazing record of Shakespeare’s plays that can often be found and read online in their original format (like the photos of copies found above). We, as people who appreciate literature, find it important to preserve masterpieces.