Death’s Jest-Book version Beddoes had intended to see print; all later revisions were relegated to an appendix of fragments. The crucial difference between that edition and the present volume is that Donner omitted both Beddoes’s Preface and his notes.
Beddoes’s Preface, with its strident argument on the aesthetics of tragedy, should be considered an integral part of Death’s JestBook. Dykes Campbell’s transcription of ‘Death’s Jest-Book. MS. II’, from which Donner derived his β text, opens with the Preface. Yet the Preface is strangely detached from its drama in Works, due to Donner’s method of separating Beddoes’s writings into generic groups (‘Poems and Poetic Fragments’, ‘Dramas and Dramatic Fragments’, ‘Prose Works, Fragments and Letters’); and Donner chose to omit it entirely from Plays and Poems. I have reversed this, and reunited the Preface with Death’s Jest-Book, as it was in ‘MS. II’.
Beddoes provided several notes to his drama, which have been retained; all footnotes in the text are his own. Only the note on Bilderdijk in the Preface has been altered: here I have cut a very lengthy quotation in Dutch, but preserved the critical notes which follow (see Works, p. 532). The footnote about the Baris (II.i.54) is Beddoes’s own, as is the end-note on the historical foundation of the plot, and the lengthy end-note on Luz and Jewish doctrines of resurrection. My own few editorial end-notes are signalled in the text with asterisks.