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Main page » Fiction literature » Graded Readers » Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing


William Shakespeare, "Much Ado About Nothing" (The Arden Shakespeare), 3rd Edition

Much Ado About Nothing boasts one of Shakespeare's most delightful heroines, most dancing wordplay, and the endearing spectacle of intellectual and social self-importance bested by the desire to love and be loved in return. It offers both the dancing wit of the "merry war" between the sexes, and a sobering vision of the costs of that combat for both men and women. Shakespeare dramatizes a social world in all of its vibrant particulars, in which characters are shaped by the relations between social convention and individual choice.

This edition of the play offers in its introduction and commentary an extensive discussion of the materials that informed Shakespeare's compositional choices, both those conventional sources and other contexts, from cuckold jokes to conduct books, which inform the ideas and identities of this play. Particular attention is devoted to Renaissance understandings of gender identity and social rank, as well as to the social valences of Shakespeare's stylistic choices. A treatment of staging possibilities offers illustrations drawn from the earliest and recent theatrical practices, and a critical history examines the fate of the play in the changing trends of academic scholarship.

From the Back Cover
The Arden Shakespeare is the established scholarly edition of Shakespeare's plays. Now in its third series, Arden offers the best in contemporary scholarship. Each volume guides you to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's work.

This edition of Much Ado About Nothing provides:
  • A clear and authoritative text, edited to the highest standards of scholarship.
  • Detailed notes and commentary on the same page as the text.
  • A full, illustrated introduction to the play's historical, cultural and performance contexts.
  • An in-depth survey of critical approaches to the play.
  • A full index to the introduction and notes
  • A select bibliography of references and further reading.
With a wealth of helpful and incisive commentary, The Arden Shakespeare is the finest edition of Shakespeare you can find.

About The Arden Shakespeare series
Arden Shakespeare is the most academically rigorous Shakespeare series in print, and the best-known English literature brand worldwide. In 1995 the Third Series of The Arden Shakespeare was launched. Now published under the imprint Arden Shakespeare, under the General Editorship of Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson, David Scott Kastan and Henry Woudhuysen, the Arden Shakespeare Third Series is nearing completion. Each new volume supersedes the corresponding Second Series text, being meticulously edited from the original sources by a contemporary scholar.


List of Illustrations
General Editors' Preface
 The Text
 Commentary and Textual Notes

 Building a play: sources and contexts
  The usual suspects: Ariosto and Bandello
  Shakespeare's transformations of his sources: the creation of a social world
  The maid
  'How many gentlemen?'
  The villain
  The lover
  Beyond the plot
  Dialogue and debate forms
  Sexual stereotypes
  Modifications of type
  Chaste, silent and obedient
 Structure and style
  'The course of true love'
  Two plots?
  Prose and the prosaic
  Verbal handshakes
  'The even road of a blank verse'
  Image patterns
 Staging Much Ado
  Tonal choices
  Social representations
  Choice of place and time
  Cultural moment
  First impressions
  Making a book
  Who's in, who's out
  Who gets to say what?

Much Ado About Nothing

Appendix: Casting chart
Abbreviations and references

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