Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Shakespeare Library)
William Shakespeare, Barbara A. Mowat, Paul Werstine
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Much Ado About Nothing includes two quite different stories of romantic love. Hero and Claudio fall in love almost at first sight, but an outsider, Don John, strikes out at their happiness. Beatrice and Benedick are kept apart by pride and mutual antagonism until others decide to play Cupid.
The authoritative edition of Much Ado About Nothing from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Gail Kern Paster
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
melancholy. (In the following passage, pageants are decorated wagons, floats, and cursy is the verb “to curtsy,” or “to bow.”) Your mind is tossing on the ocean, There where your argosies with portly sail— Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood, Or as it were the pageants of the sea— Do overpeer the petty traffickers That cursy to them, do them reverence, As they fly by them with their woven wings. (1.1.8-14) Late in the nineteenth century, when Henry Irving produced the play with
article; in 1857 Delia Bacon published a book, arguing that Francis Bacon had directed a group of intellectuals who wrote the plays. Francis Bacon’s claim has largely faded, perhaps because it was advanced with such evident craziness by Ignatius Donnelly, who in The Great Cryptogram (1888) claimed to break a code in the plays that proved Bacon had written not only the plays attributed to Shakespeare but also other Renaissance works, for instance the plays of Christopher Marlowe and the essays of
thou deservest it. Margaret. To have no man come over me!° Why, shall I always keep belowstairs?‘ Benedick. Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches. Margaret. And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit but hurt not. Benedick. A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman. And so, I pray thee call Beatrice. I give thee the bucklers.° Margaret. Give us the swords; we have bucklers of our own. Benedick. If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes° with
that the number of people who saw this production far exceeded all of the audience put together who saw earlier productions of the play. Judging from numerous reviews, John Barton’s Anglo-Indian production for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976, with Judi Dench as Beatrice and Donald Sinden as Benedick, was a much more thoughtful affair. Barton saw the Hero-Claudio plot as largely about pleasure-seeking men with elegant manners and coarse moral values; he found in British India a setting
Dollimore, John, and Alan Sinfield, eds. Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultutal Materialism (1985). Essays on such topics as the subordination of women and colonialism, presented in connection with some of Shakespeare’s plays. Greenblatt, Stephen. Representing the English Renaissance (1988). New Historicist essays, especially on connections between political and aesthetic matters, statecraft and stagecraft. Joseph, B. L. Shakespeare’s Eden: the Commonwealth of England 1558-1629 (1971).