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Why did theatre audiences laugh in Shakespeare's day? Why do they still laugh now? What did Shakespeare do with the conventions of comedy that he inherited, so that his plays continue to amuse and move audiences? What do his comedies have to say about love, sex, gender, power, family, community, and class? What place have pain, cruelty, and even death in a comedy? Why all those puns? In a survey that travels from Shakespeare's earliest experiments in farce and courtly love-stories to the great romantic comedies of his middle years and the mould-breaking experiments of his last decade's work, this book addresses these vital questions. Organised thematically, and covering all Shakespeare's comedies from the beginning to the end of his career, it provides readers with a map of the playwright's comic styles, showing how he built on comedic conventions as he further enriched the possibilities of the genre.Read more
- Covers all of Shakespeare's comedies, demonstrating how he experimented with the genre
- Looks closely at the language of important scenes and speeches, enabling the reader to understand the effectiveness of modes of dramatic speech
- Examines the intersections between romantic love and the genre of comedy, showing thematic continuities from the medieval period to modern Hollywood
Reviews & endorsements
"...a balanced voice of experience and wisdom. Gay’s is a book you might read without being compelled to, for the pleasure of learning more about plays that continue to work on the stage and on the page...Gay tells us much that is relevant and illuminating about the plays’ historical context, but her most persistent reality check is a lively sense of how the plays work on stage, for actual readers and audiences...Gay is an excellent guide...This is a book anyone from a novice to an experienced scholar should be able to read with pleasure and instruction."
-Robert Phiddian, Australian Book ReviewSee more reviews
"The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare's Comedies would be an excellent addition to a Shakespeare course."
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- Date Published: May 2008
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521856683
- length: 164 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.41kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Comedy as idea and practice
2. Farce: The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merry Wives of Windsor
3. Courtly lovers and the real world: Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice
4. Comedy and language: Love's Labour's Lost
5. Romantic comedy: Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Twelfth Night
6. Problematic plots and endings: clowning post-Hamlet: Measure for Measure, All's Well that Ends Well, The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline, The Tempest
7. The afterlives of Shakespeare's comedies
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