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Much Ado About Nothing by William…

Much Ado About Nothing (1598)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7,29065486 (4.09)248
  1. 90
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Shuffy2)
    Shuffy2: Beatrice and Benedick and Lizzie and Darcy- there are some similarties! This is my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies! Two characters who love to spar with words, 2 couples who love each other, and a bad guy! Perfect mix...

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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I was dealt a sizeable blow by the Introduction to my Wordsworth edition of Much Ado About Nothing, and the play itself never really recovered me. You see, the Introduction went into the history of the play and pointed out that our surviving version of Much Ado is an early text, representing "a preliminary stage in the play's evolution: we lack a 'finished', enriched and polished version" (pg. 13). And it is true: the inconsistencies which you sometimes find in Shakespeare attack you like waves on breakers in Much Ado: convoluted plotlines, inert characters put into a scene without any lines or even a purpose, and underdeveloped or counter-intuitive motivations for key characters. Even the division of the play into Acts and scenes is a modern editorial decision. When you add to this the lack of eloquent soliloquies or memorable phrases, the lack of rhyme to end scenes, and bawdy jokes that don't land, then you have the sort of Shakespeare experience that enthusiasts try so desperately to dispel: a 'comedy' and a play that is too much like hard work. It is the near-equivalent of that modern habit of posthumously publishing a famous author's incomplete manuscript as a new work.

However, the same Introduction also points out Much Ado's saving grace: we sometimes forget, but Shakespeare was meant as drama, not literature. "Shakespeare wrote his plays as scripts for performance, and the main critical test is whether they succeed as performances" (pg. 16). The underlying concept of Much Ado is a good one: of lovers getting into misunderstandings and consequently into all sorts of inept schemes, before things work out and they all live happily ever after. It is the framework for most modern romantic comedies. Much Ado does this well: there are some good lines, and Benedick and Beatrice can be a delight; "they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them" (pg. 32). So whilst it may be a clunker in book form, there is enough here for directors and actors on both stage and screen to deliver a great interpretation – and many have. (One can only wonder at how Shakespeare's finished piece would look, had it survived into modern times.) But readers of Shakespeare should approach with more caution than I did: Much Ado About Nothing is one for the stage, not the page. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Apr 5, 2018 |
Confirmed: still a four-star read. One star off because no one threw shoes at Claudio and Leonato for being utter patriarchal dimwits. ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
The title is a Shakespearean pun: Much Ado About An-O-Thing. ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
This has always been among my favorite Shakespeare stories. I have seen it on stage a couple times and saw the movie (Joss Whedon's version), but had never actually fully read the text of the play. I am glad I finally did, though. Recommended to fans of Shakespeare. ( )
  ktlavender | Jul 17, 2017 |
I'm surprised that I haven't commented on this one after a previous reading, as it's one of my very favorites. Though I'll admit that the Claudio/Hero plot is pretty infuriating, Beatrice and Benedick have more than enough charm to compensate for Claudio's shallow, opportunistic fickleness and Hero's pathetic lack of spunk. B&B are easily my favorite pair of lovers in Shakespeare – witty, sensitive, thoughtful, complex... just utterly delightful. And this time I had Marjorie Garber's excellent piece to point out some things I'd missed up til now. My favorite new tidbit – not important but a fun, “insider” joke (as in, Shakespeare's original audience would have appreciated it) was about the malapropism spouting Dogberry...
”The role of Dogberry was originally played by Will Kemp, the same actor who played Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and we might imagine that spectators would make this connection. Dogberry/Kemp has already be “writ down an ass,”with equal insouciant triumph, in Shakespeare's earlier play.”

Garber also explains the connection between “nothing” and “noting,” which I'd previously not “noted.” (the Folger edition also comments on this, saying “There is some evidence that 'nothing' and 'noting' were pronounced alike in Shakespeare's day. If so, this word is yet another pun on 'nothing,' and the title of the play itself could be heard as 'Much Ado about Noting.'”) She elaborates on this a bit, highlighting some of the many places where “noting” is significant. Just another detail that helped me enjoy the play even more.

I listened to the Arkangel audio performance while I read, which is, as always, well done, though perhaps lacking the intensity and sparkle that I want with some of this dialogue. Also, I watched (for the umpteenth time) the Tate/Tennant performance, which is my favorite, though the Thompson/Branagh is also brilliant and wonderful (and might be my favorite if I'd just watched it), and I enjoyed the Whedon too. Today I'm planning to watch the Shakespeare Retold version, which I've never seen, but the others in the series have been good, so I have high hopes for this one. Did I mention that this is my favorite of the comedies? ( )
  meandmybooks | Jun 18, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (124 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dennis, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, Janettesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foakes, R. A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gray, Henry DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McEachern, ClaireEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Newcomer, Alphonso G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, ByamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, David L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trenery, Grace R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.
He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat.
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how much.
I thank God I am as honest as any man living that is an old man and no honester than I.
What a deformed thief this fashion is.
Is it not strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
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Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete Much Ado About Nothing only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743482751, Mass Market Paperback)

Folger Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

• Scene-by-scene plot summaries

• A key to famous lines and phrases

• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

• An essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Gail Kern Paster

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:29 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents Shakespeare's romantic comedy about a loving couple torn apart by a false accusation and a bickering couple brought together by friendly plotting.

» see all 38 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714804, 0141012307

Sourcebooks MediaFusion

An edition of this book was published by Sourcebooks MediaFusion.

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