Shakespeare never published nor approved any published versions of his plays, and thus the authenticity of all his published work is unstable. There have even been suggestions that these plays were written by the Earl of Oxford and not William Shakespeare at all.

The texts that we do have are full of "errors." The process of printing books in the Early Modern period allowed many opportunities for human error. There is also a question of the change in meanings of words from their usage in the text to a modern usage, and the problems of non-standardized spelling. Although subsequent editors of Shakespeare's texts have proposed many emendations that have been incorporated into modern editions, these texts are still in a sense instable. Different readings are popular during different cultural climates, ideas change, new "original" texts are discovered, and so forth.

Because of this inherent instability and openness of its signifiers, Shakespeare's texts seem well-fitted to a hypertextual environment. The multiple paths of a hypertext web allow for different readings to exist simultaneously. For this reason, I have not felt it necessary to choose one reading to support, but instead tried to make it possible for the reader to encounter all the readings and make the decision for her or him self.

There are various starting points for this exploration so that different readers can explore the web as they please, moving from the texts of Twelfth Night to the analysis and back again.

Cyberspace Web