This edition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night reprints the Bevington edition of the play along with seven sets of thematically arranged primary documents and illustrations designed to facilitate many different approaches to Shakespeare's play and the early modern culture out of which the play emerges. The texts include facsimiles of period documents, maps, woodcuts, descriptions of the popular customs associated with Twelfth Night, antitheatrical tracts, royal proclamations concerning dress, laws prohibiting certain sexual acts, poems fantasizing those very acts, early modern texts on household economies, passages from Puritan conduct books, excerpts from Ovid and Montaigne, a representative range of early modern opinions about boy actors, and theories of laughter. Besides contextualizing the audience for Shakespeare’s play and shedding light on some of his sources, the documents explore the range of sexual desires articulated in the play, competing ideas about music in early modern culture, religious controversy, the regulation of early modern society according to hierarchies, and the controversial place of laughter in early modern culture. Editorial features designed to help students read the play in light of the historical documents include an engaging general introduction, an introduction to each thematic group of documents, thorough headnotes and glosses for the primary documents (presented in modern spelling), and an extensive bibliography.
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