The Two Gentlemen of Verona (New Penguin Shakespeare)

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9780140707175: The Two Gentlemen of Verona (New Penguin Shakespeare)

Professor Schlueter approaches this early Shakespearean comedy as a parody of two types of Renaissance educational fiction: the love-quest story and the test-of-friendship story, which by their combination show the pitfalls of high-flown human ideals. A thoroughly researched, illustrated stage history reveals changing conceptions of the play, which has tempted many nineteenth- and twentieth-century directors and actors, who often fail, nevertheless, to come to terms with the play's subversive impetus.

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Review:

One of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, and unjustly neglected over the years, The Two Gentlemen of Verona has deserved its growing critical reputation over recent years. The play dramatises the entangled relations between the two gentlemen of the play's title, Valentine and Proteus. Valentine leaves Verona for Milan to seek his fortune, whilst Proteus stays to be near his love, Julia. Spurned by Julia, Proteus heads for Milan, where he finds himself a rival of Valentine for the hand of Silvia, the Duke's daughter. Julia the reappears, disguised in boy's clothes as Proteus' page. As in many of Shakespeare's later comedies, the lovers flee to the forest, where confusion and conflict is finally resolved, and the two gentlemen are reunited not only with their "correct" lovers, but also with each other.

The play is particularly interesting for its dramatisation of the intense friendship between Valentine and Proteus, which it often characterises as more intimate and meaningful than relations with women. Proteus complains that Julia "hast metamorphosed me" into something he cannot understand, and the play suggests that social and sexual relations between men are often more satisfying than the dangerous instability involved in wooing women. --Jerry Brotton

Book Description:

John Dover Wilson's New Shakespeare, published between 1921 and 1966, became the classic Cambridge edition of Shakespeare's plays and poems until the 1980s. The series, long since out-of-print, is now reissued. Each work contains a lengthy and lively introduction, main text, and substantial notes and glossary.

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