As You Like It (Folger Shakespeare Library)

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9780743484862: As You Like It (Folger Shakespeare Library)

"As You Like It", Shakespeare's most light-hearted comedy, is also one of the best-loved and most performed of all his plays. Probably written in 1599 or 1600, it was listed in the Stationers' Register in 1600 as having been "stayed" from publication, and was not printed until the First Folio of 1623. Its first recorded performance was in 1740. The introduction to this new edition discusses both the known history of the play's composition, dating and publication and the possible reasons for the delay in publication. It also deals with Shakespeare's sources, and his handling of the theme of love, and discusses in detail the fortunes of the play in performance. Popular from the mid-18th century onwards, it has had innumerable 20th century productions, in Britain, America and elsewhere, many of which are discussed and illustrated. Unsurprisingly, as the play contains the longest - and one of the most delightful - of Shakespeare's female roles in the comedies, its performance history is marked by notable Rosalinds, from Hannah Pritchard and Margaret Woffington (giving rival performances in 1741), to Helen Faucit, Peggy Ashcroft, Vanessa Redgrave, Ronald Pickup (in an all-male production in 1967), Eileen Atkins, and many others. The text is annotated to explain allusions and difficult passages and to illuminate puns and "stage business" and there are appendices on "wit", and on the music to the many songs in the play.

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Product Description:

In addition to the complete text of "As You Like it", this book includes: activities; a synopsis at the beginning of each act; notes opposite the text; photographs showing various productions of the play; and an introduction which places Shakespeare in context.

Review:

As You Like It has long been admired as one of Shakespeare's most exuberant early comedies, complete with one of the Bard's funniest and toughest heroines, Rosalind. Based on Thomas Lodge's Elizabethan novel Rosalynde, As You Like It follows the discontented Orlando as he is exiled from the tyrannical French court of Duke Frederick. By chance Frederick also banishes Rosalind, daughter of the usurped Duke Senior. The play then moves to the Forest of Arden, where chaos and misrule ensue, as Rosalind cross dresses "all points like a man", disguised as the saucy Ganymede and encourages the naive Orlando to "woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humour". Meanwhile her clown Touchstone causes hilarity and havoc amongst the exiled lords and the pastoral inhabitants of the forest. The play concludes with Rosalind's extraordinary "unmasking" Epilogue addressed to the audience, where she offers to "kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me".

As You Like It remains one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, yet it is also appreciated by critics for its complex exploration of cross dressing and sexual politics, and its interest in relations between the country and the city. --Jerry Brotton

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