A dazzling display of William Shakespeare's fondness for wit and wordplay, Much Ado About Nothing is a high-spirited comedy, edited with notes by R.A. Foakes, and an introduction by Janet Dillon.
'Some, Cupid kills with arrows, some, with traps'
Proud, vivacious Beatrice and a high-spirited rake Benedick both claim that they are determined never to marry. But when good-hearted mischief-maker Don Pedro tricks them into believing that each harbours secret feelings for the other, Beatrice and Benedick begin to question whether their witty banter and sharp-tongued repartee conceals something deeper. Schemes abound, misunderstandings proliferate and matches are eventually made in this sparkling and irresistible comedy, famously adapted by Kenneth Branagh in a film starring Keanu Reeves and Emma Thompson.
This book contains a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to Much Ado About Nothing, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.
If you enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing, you might like As You Like It, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.
'How is it possible that Shakespeare understood the human heart so well?'
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Like Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado about Nothing shows Shakespeare moving into a more complex and darker terrain through his exploration of an apparently harmless comical romance. The play revolves around the adventures of the two gallants Claudio and Benedick at the court of Sicily. Claudio falls in love with the governor's daughter Hero, and is eager for his more misanthropic friend Benedick to also find love. Benedick is introduced to the fiery, independent Beatrice, and sparks soon fly as they banter with each other in a more wittier version of Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. Beatrice has some wonderful ripostes to marriage asking why should a woman marry "a clod of wayward marl", whilst Benedick grumbles that "She speaks poniards and every word stabs". Meanwhile, the jealous Don John convinces Claudio that Hero has in fact been unfaithful to him. When Claudio rejects Hero on their wedding day, she faints and is taken for dead. In the hectic final scenes the play moves towards reconciliation between Claudio and Hero, and the tentative admission of the love between Benedick and Beatrice. Famously filmed by Kenneth Branagh in the Tuscan countryside with a cast that included Keanu Reeves, Much Ado about Nothing remains one of Shakespeare's most successful comedies. --Jerry Brotton.Review:
Praise for William Shakespeare: Complete Works: A feast of literary and historical information. The Wall Street Journal"
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