"The pound of flesh and the choice of the casket are the two themes, which make "The Merchant of Venice" memorable, and somewhat mystifying. For, in spite of the drama of Shylock's aborted revenge against his persecutors, the play is a comedy, and a romantic one at that, as the fifth act makes clear. The play was probably written in 1596. For it, Shakespeare borrowed from his own play, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona", the scene where Portia and Nerissa discuss the suitors, for the same listing of points of wooers is in the latter play between Julia and Lucetta; and Launcelot Gobbo is a reincarnation of Launce." - G.B. Harrison, Editor of texts for the Shakespeare Recording Society.
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William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest playwright the world has seen. He produced an astonishing amount of work; 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and 5 poems. He died on 23rd April 1616, aged 52, and was buried in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.
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