Perhaps what is most distinctive about Shakespeare's Folio is the extent to which it appears to give itself to its readers and leave itself open to their interpretations.
As the Folio largely frees itself from the contexts of politics, patronage and classical precedent, and from any direct authorial voice, so it appears to hand itself over to the reader.
This is reflected in the unusual placing of the address "To the Reader" on the very first page, even before the title of the work.
The preface "To the great Variety of Readers", begins by embracing the full spectrum of readers "From the most able, to him that can but spell"
While insisting upon the inherent value of the texts, "To the great Variety of Readers", does not attempt to dictate any meaning of the book, but rather accepts the role of the reader in determining meaning and suggests the plurality of interpretation.
With kind permission of Manchester University Press
Meek, Richard, et al. 2008. Shakespeare's book: essays in reading, writing and reception.