I still don’t really know what a folio is, but I saw one today.

For my English class we took a field trip to Stark Gallery in the MSC to see one of Shakespeare’s first folios. I think it’s a huge collection of all his plays written on paper folded in half, so basically it’s a really big, really old book. This one was one of the first folios ever written. The folio was turned to the opening of Hamlet, so I read the famous words “to be or not to be- that is the question” from one of the first ever prints. My English professor thought it was pretty cool.

The glass had an alarm that would go off if it was touched. I really wanted someone to touch it, actually I wanted to touch it, but we were in class and I didn’t want to get in trouble so I chickened out. A tour guide told a story that started with a guy stealing a first folio and ended with him dying in a jail cell. I guess he tried to play it off like he found a new one because there are still some left undiscovered, but the experts who analyzed it recognized it as the stolen one. Each first folio is printed with little differences because each person could print every letter on every page just slightly different, making every folio unique. Her story got the message across: don’t steal a first folio, even if it’s worth 6.2 billion dollars.

Then we went to Cushing Memorial Library and walked about the early literature exhibit. It was more old books, but some of these were turned to pages with amazing illustrations. I learned that the lowercase letter s used to be printed like an integration symbol in math. I also learned that my English professor’s husband is the curator Cushing. He was totally weird and not what I was expecting. I expected a nerdy guy to marry her because she is incredible nerdy, but I expected him to be somewhat normal. But dude this guy had a sparse, scraggly beard and thin, curly hair flying out in every direction. He was short and stout and had round glasses that always sat crooked on his nose. I used to think my English prof was a little weird, but now I know that it’s way fucking more than a little.

Anyway, I was told that this is a special moment in my life. I guess it’s really cool to have seen the first folio. I decided to document my experience and give myself one more reason to be thankful that I have so many cool opportunities. I go to an amazing university and I thank God every day for giving my this life that I’m absolutely head over heels in love with.

first folio // to be or not to be   
other old books with cool pics // cushing library 


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