Romeo and Juliet (Penguin Popular Classics)

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9780140620931: Romeo and Juliet (Penguin Popular Classics)

A young man and woman meet by chance and fall instantly in love. But their families are bitter enemies, and in order to be together the two lovers must be prepared to risk everything. Set in a city torn apart by feuds and gang warfare, Romeo and Juliet is a dazzling combination of passion and hatred, bawdy comedy and high tragedy.

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Review:

This is undoubtedly the greatest love story ever written, spawning a host of imitators on stage and screen, including Leonard Bernstein's smash musical West Side Story, Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet filmed in 1968, and Baz Luhrmann's postmodern film version Romeo + Juliet. The tragic feud between "Two households, both alike in dignity/In fair Verona", the Montagues and Capulets, which ultimately kills the two young "star-crossed lovers" and their "death-marked love" creates issues which have fascinated subsequent generations. The play deals with issues of intergenerational and familial conflict, as well as the power of language and the compelling relationship between sex and death, all of which makes it an incredibly modern play. It is also an early example of Shakespeare fusing poetry with dramatic action, as he moves from Romeo's lyrical account of Juliet--"she doth teach the torches to burn bright!" to the bustle and action of a 16th-century household (the play contains more scenes of ordinary working people than any of Shakespeare's other works). It also represents an experimental attempt to fuse comedy with tragedy. Up to the third act, the play proceeds along the lines of a classic romantic comedy. The turning point comes with the death of one of Shakespeare's finest early dramatic creations--Romeo's sexually ambivalent friend Mercutio, whose "plague o' both your houses" begins the play's descent into tragedy, "For never was a story of more woe/Than this of Juliet and her Romeo". -- Jerry Brotton

Review:

many students will no doubt relish the fullness of Professor Levenson's notes. Indeed, they may often be particularly grateful for the care with which she directs readers to even fuller discussions to be found elsewhere ( The Review of English Studies, Vol.52, No.207)

Professor Levenson provides an excellent and often very thought-provoking account of performance history, and many of her most interesting discussions and annotations relate to questions of staging, traditional, unusual, or possible ( The Review of English Studies, Vol.52, No.207)

excellent decision to include the whole of the Q1 text as well as Q2 ( The Review of English Studies, Vol.52, No.207)

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