Love's Labour's Lost: A Guide to the Play
"Love's Labour's Lost" has had a puzzling history. Until the 1950s it was generally considered one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, and it was one of his most vilified until the 20th century. Perhaps more than any other Shakespearean play, it explores the power and limitations of language, and this blatant concern for language led many early critics to believe that it was the work of a playwright just learning his art. Because of its linguistic density, it is one of Shakespeare's most demanding plays, and this difficulty helps account for its initial unpopularity. But modern critics have begun to study the play in earnest and it is now one of Shakespeare's most popular works. This reference is a thorough introduction to the play's origins and legacy.
The volume provides a full overview of all aspects of the play, from its genesis to modern productions, and scholarship. The book begins with a summary of the play's textual history, including the problems of dating it accurately. It then discusses the cultural, social, and ideological contexts that inform the drama and considers some of Shakespeare's plausible sources. The play's dramatic structure, including its language, is examined at length, along with its various themes. The reference then recounts its critical and scholarly reception, and a final chapter surveys the play's performance history. Chapters cite works for further reading, and the volume concludes with a selected bibliography of major studies.
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Contexts and Sources
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