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Love's Labor's Lost by William Shakespeare

Love's Labor's Lost (edition 2005)

by William Shakespeare, Paul Werstine, Dr. Barbara A. Mowat (Editor)

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1,466175,094 (3.5)52
Title:Love's Labor's Lost
Authors:William Shakespeare
Other authors:Paul Werstine, Dr. Barbara A. Mowat (Editor)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read, play, Nov., 2012

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Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare



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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The 2000 film of this play got me in trouble because I was laughing so loudly at Shakespeare; I was told after the film, "Everybody in this room HATES you." (Guess Americans are not s'posed to laugh at Great Drama--or poetry, either.)
Arguably Shakespeare's most Shakespearean play, or interplay: the exchanges of wit, what he would have overheard at Middle Temple and among his fellow actors. Rather than the text, I'll comment on Branagh's musical version, with himself as Berowne and Director, Scorsese as producer. It's hilarious, especially for a Shakespearean; I laughed throughout so much (my laugh scares babies) one lady in the audience 25 came up to me after the film to kindly inform, "Everybody in this room HATES you." I thanked her for the admonition.
Very slow, stagey opening lines by the Prince. Dunno why. They cut the poetry criticism, and substitute the American songbook--Gershwin, Berlin--for poems. The Don Armado stuff (with Moth his sidekick) is broad, not literary: mustachioed, funny body, melancholy humor. Armado's the most overwritten love-letter, parodying catechism; but he is standard Plautine Braggart Soldier ("Miles Gloriosus") by way of commedia dell'arte. Then the Plautine Pedant (commedia Dottore) Holofernia crosses gender, a female professor type. Costard wears a suit, maybe a Catskills standup.
Branagh cuts the Russian (or fake-Russian) lingo, "muoosa-Cargo" of the masked entrance.
Wonderful 30's film cliches: female swimmers, the dance scenes, the prop plane's night takeoff. Ends with WWII, grainy newsreel footage of the year, after news of the French Princess's father's death.
Berowne (pronounced .."oon") is sentenced privately "to move wild laughter in the throat of death…" His judge, Rosaline, points out the Bard' instruction on jokes: "A jest's prosperity lies in the ear / Of him that hears it, never in the tongue / Of him that makes it" (V.end). LLL ends with death and winter (the Russian an intimation?): "When icicles hang by the wall,/ And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,/ And Tom bears logs into the hall,/ And milk comes frozen home in pails.." and the owl talks, "Tu-whit..Tu whoo, a merry note/ While greasy Joan doth keel the pot." That's the European Tawny Owl (male and female must combine for it) so an American director might replace with the same prosody, "Who cooks for youuu?"(the Barred Owl).
In the penultimate scene, Dull is onstage the whole scene nere speaking a word until Holofernes says, "Thou hast spoken no word the while," to which Dull, "Nor understood none neither, sir."
Well, no wonder, if he has no Latin, for Costard offers, "Go to, thou has it AD dunghill…as they say." Hol, "Oh, I smell false Latin--dunghill for UNGUEM." The Bard kindly explains the Latin joke, essential for modern American readers.
Incidentally, Berowne uses Moliere-like rhymed couplets in his social satire on Boyet, V.ii.315ff. His most daring rhymes, "sing/ushering" and maybe "debt/Boyet." ( )
  AlanWPowers | Oct 21, 2016 |
This had some great wit as is usual for Shakespeare, but it being (likely) his first comedy, it doesn't have the complexity of plot and broadness of language that most of his later comedies have.
( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This had some great wit as is usual for Shakespeare, but it being (likely) his first comedy, it doesn't have the complexity of plot and broadness of language that most of his later comedies have.
( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
In one of Shakespeare's earliest plays the King of Navarre and the Princess of France and their attendants meet, and the various couples fall in love over jesting and witty repartee. As the title suggests, however, love does not win in the end as the ladies return to France due to a tragedy and insist that the gentlemen wait a year before continuing to court them.

I've never seen this one done (either live on stage or as a movie), so it was harder for me to follow than the Shakespeare plays that I've seen before reading. It did have its good moments, and there were several themes that Shakespeare began to explore here before fully developing them in later works. One major complaint that I do have is that there were just too many characters for me to keep them all straight. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Love's Labour's Lost is one of Shakespeare's comedies, despite its unique ending in which none of the lovers are conveniently married off, and the men are instead ordered to a year's worth of abstinence to prove their devotion to the women. The ending echoes the opening of the play in a bitterly amusing way: at the start of the play, the men have sworn off women and dissolute living for three years, to improve their minds, and at the end of the play they swear to be faithful for a year and a day (in other words, no women) to prove the constancy of their loves. Will they abide by the second promise, when they were unable to keep the first? The doubt surrounding this proposition closes the play on a jarring note.

I started with the ending, so let me retrace my steps and explain the premise From the beginning. The King of Navarre and this three companions have taken an oath to perform three years of study and fasting, abstaining from women to keep their minds clear. One of the men, Berowne, skeptically observes that none of them has the endurance, but he reluctantly agrees. Enter the women: the Princess from France arrives for some political parley, along with her three women companions. The men immediately fall in love; fortunately, each man falls in love with a separate lady in the group. Without any hesitation, they throw aside their oath. In a scene that is replete with wonderful dramatic irony, each man comes out, one at a time, to confess in a soliloquy that he will pursue his new love, while at least one other man is hiding in the wings, eavesdropping. The King overhears the confessions of the others, and rebukes them for breaking their oath, before Berowne points out that he heard the King himself betray their earlier promise, and so they all have a good laugh at each other. They decide to court the ladies in disguise. Boyet, one of the men attending the Princess, overhears their plans and tells the female visitors. Not only are they a little indignant at this turn of events - the King had earlier refused them admittance into the Court, due to his oath, forcing them to camp outside - they are also contemptuous of how easily the men break their promises and of the foolish way they hope to woo them. To repay them for these issues, the women devise their own plot. They will also wear disguises, professing to be someone else, and force the men to court the wrong woman.

As Shakespeare's women are so often the more clever gender, the plan goes exactly the way the women wish it to. The King and his entourage humbly apologize, and after some playful bickering, all turns out well, for it seems that the women have also fallen in love, each with the man that is most partial to her. This type of miraculous coincidence is to be expected in a comedy, where even fate and destiny work for the eventual good of the characters. Indeed, the story seems headed to the conventional ending marriage and celebration, when the festive events are interrupted with somber news. The Princess's father has died, and she must return home to mourn for the required year. The ladies extract promises from the men to show their love by being faithful to them during their year of absence, and the play ends with the characters parting, with promises to reunite which may or may not be kept.

This play is great fun, despite a plot that has remarkably little happen beside bantering and mockery. Indeed, find a version that has copious notes (this version has one page Shakespeare text and a facing page of explanatory notes), because the wordplay in this drama is abundant. Love's Labour's Lost is considered Shakespeare's most inventive play in terms of language and original plot. The disguises and misdirection underscore the hollowness of the dramatic oaths, undertaken so quickly, abandoned so easily. The text is bursting with jokes, double entendres, play on words, and naughtiness, although it is difficult to unpack. If you can unearth the difficult and now dated language (which is why some reference material is handy), you will be chuckling throughout, even during scenes where the laughter makes you feel a bit guilty, like when the nobles heartlessly ridicule the terrible pageant put on for them by the secondary lower class characters. The royal lovers may be more intelligent, but the buffoonish characters like Don Armado and Moth have far more heart than their supposedly noble betters. That is a good reflection of this play, actually: a dark and hard quality often cuts into the frothy frivolity of the humor, with a bitterness that is at odds with the avowed good nature of the players. Dichotomy makes for a fascinating read, and pair that with writing that lavishly embraces language and its possibilities, and you have one of Shakespeare's more unusual and compelling comedies. I am partial to the comedies, and this one is at the top of my list. ( )
  nmhale | Oct 7, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cross, Wilbur L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doran, Gregorysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hart, H. C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Straat, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woudhuysen, H. R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live register'd upon our brazen tombs
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavor of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge
And make us heirs of all eternity.
A man in all the world's new fashion planted,

That hath a mint of phrases in his brain.
He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.
They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.
A jest's prosperity lies in the ear

Of him that hears it, never in the tongue

Of him that makes it.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the COMPLETE "Love's Labour's Lost" 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 0743484924, Mass Market Paperback)

Folger Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

• 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 leading Shakespeare scholar, William C. Carroll, providing a modern perspective on the play

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

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 18:16:50 -0400)

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The New Folger Library edition of Shakespeare's plays puts readers in touch with current ways of thinking about Shakespeare. Each volume contains full explanatory notes on pages facing the text of the play and a helpful introduction to Shakespeare's language. At the conclusion of each play is a full essay by a scholar who assesses the play in the light of today's interests and concerns.… (more)

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