The nature and significance of the project

Introduction

We would like to be able to claim that hamletworks.org offers you everything you ever wanted to know about Hamlet within a few clicks of a mouse. We’re not there yet—hamletworks.org is very much a work in progress—but the hamletworks website already brings together an important body of information about Shakespeare’s play that will be of interest to casual students as well as serious scholars, and it will grow increasingly valuable as it continues to develop. It provides access to materials from a large number of collections (see acknowledgments on the homepage).
The editors—in order of their joining the project—are Bernice W. Kliman (Nassau Community College, State University of New York), Frank Nicholas Clary (Saint Michael’s College, Vermont), Hardin Aasand (Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne) and Eric Rasmussen (University of Nevada, Reno), with webmaster Jeffery Triggs (Rutgers University). The site could not exist without the assistance of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has supported it with several grants (see acknowledgments for a list of those and other grants).
The easiest way to find textual and commentary notes for particular line numbers in the text is to open the Enfolded Hamlet or the separate {Q2} or <F1> texts in Linked Enfolded Hamlet (web homepage, item 2) and click on any line number. The Through Line Number (TLN) is to the left of the text and the act-scene-line number is to the right. Clicking on the TLN to the left will bring you to the notes. From there you can return to the full text(s) and other lines to reach other notes, or you can navigate forward and backward from wherever you are in the notes. Hamletworks contains sets of entries detailing the textual and critical history of every line of the play. These entries are divided into three distinct types: Commentary Notes (CN), Material Textual Notes (TNM), and Immaterial Textual Notes (TNI). The hamletworks entries are searchable and browseable. N.b.: Hot links, that is, words and phrases highlighted in blue that turn red when your cursor crosses them (like searchable and browseable above connect to related areas of the site.
In addition to these materials, hamletworks presents a growing collection of digital facsimiles as well as diplomatic versions of important editions. Jesús Tronch is preparing a modernized version of the Enfolded Hamlet, which will appear in process in the Linked Enfolded Hamlet section. Like most of the hamletworks entries, these texts are fully searcheable. Texts may be found under the “editions / promptbooks” section of the website and searched through the “search hw texts" web page. Some links require the free, down-loadable DjVu plug-in (see the homepage for link and directions).
Another special feature of hamletworks is the inclusion of especially commissioned essays about the play, including a special section on Hamlet around the world, called "Global Hamlet"; and Alan Young’s illustrated essay on Hamlet Illustrations through the nineteenth century. Essays are located in the "criticism" and "About the Play sections, and are searchable individually or in combination through the "search hw texts" web page.
The website also contains special interfaces to several other websites for the convenience of its users. Without leaving hamletworks.org, users can access an updated version of the Enfolded Hamlet with each line linked to hamletworks entries for that line, the complete Illustrated Shakespeare edited by Gulian Verplanck, and the Century Dictionary Online.
The editors are alone responsible for the website’s contents and features. In their role as editors of The Modern Language Association’s New Variorum print edition, they began collecting and preparing data electronically several years before MLA and the New Variorum Committee had determined whether or how electronic materials would supplement the project. Recently, The Modern Language Association has determined that it will publish “The New Variorum Hamlet” in print and in an identical and fully-searchable electronic form: these will be separate from hamletworks.org, which has joined the electronic Hamlet projects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The hamletworks editors, who have placed on the website materials from which they are shaping and which they are condensing for the print edition, have also selected many other materials for the site, including whole editions of the play from the seventeenth century on. We thank MLA for providing the opportunity to work on the Hamlet Variorum Project, which engendered the website, much as the variorum has inspired such works as The Enfolded Hamlet, first published in The Shakespeare Newsletter in 1996; The Enfolded Hamlets, published by AMS Press in 2004; The Three-Text Hamlet, published by AMS Press in 1991 and 2003; other books and many articles. Each of these publications is independent of the Modern Language Association and its New Variorum Project. But in the instance of hamletworks.org, the editors have followed as many of the guidelines of the Variorum Project as possible, to make it compatible with the eventual print edition.
We encourage the scholarly community’s contributions of editions and already-printed essays. We also welcome exchanges of links with other websites.
Please contact us with questions and comments.