Titles, Then and Now

        According to the English Short Title Catalogue, Marlowe's play was first published in 1604, and its title page reads thusly:

The tragicall history of D. Faustus. As it hath bene acted by the right honorable the Earle of Nottingham his seruants. Written by Ch. Marl. London : Printed by V. S[immes] for Thomas Bushell, 1604.

The second edition, containing the so-called "B-Text," was published in 1609, and its title page contains this:

The tragicall history of the horrible life and death of Doctor Faustus. Written by Ch. Marl. Imprinted at London : By G[eorge] E[ld] for Iohn Wright and are to be sold at Christ-church gate, 1609.

        How does the second edition's title set expectations for the play's readers?  The 1611 third edition reprinted the 1609 title, but the 1616, 1619, 1620, 1624, 1628, 1631, and 1663 editions all dropped the "horrible" from the title.  What's going on?  For comparison, this is the title of the English "Faust book,"

The historie of the damnable life, and deserued death of Doctor Iohn Faustus, Newly imprinted, and in conuenient places imperfect matter amended: according to the true copie printed at Franckfort, and translated into English, by P.F. Gent. Seene and allowed. Imprinted at London : By Thomas Orwin, and are to be solde by Edward White, dwelling at the little north doore of Paules at the signe of the Gun, 1592.

Titles are almost never added to works written for manuscript circulation, but printers introduce the "book title" and later the "poem title" for shorter works as a way of commodifying literature, making it easier for customers to ask for and for printers to sell.  Think about what the title of the play the Norton prints tells readers about itself.  Why might modern editors prefer this title to the original Elizabethan one?  Get used to the fact that modern editors frequently alter titles, spelling, and a host of other things which make the text you are reading markedly different from the text the Early Modern authors and readers would have seen.  If you resent this meddling and have the stomach to be patient until your eyes and brain adjust to the spelling conventions of the era, seek out "facsimile" or "original spelling" editions, either online or in print.