At first glance, Shakespeare's early comedy Love's Labor's Lost
simply entertains and amuses. Four young men (one of them a king)
withdraw from the world for three years, taking an oath that they
will have nothing to do with women. The King of Navarre soon
learns, however, that the Princess of France and her ladies are
about to arrive. Although he lodges them outside of his court, all
four men fall in love with the ladies, abandoning their oaths and
setting out to win their hands. The laughter triggered by this
story is augmented by subplots involving a braggart soldier, a
clever page, illiterate servants, a parson, a schoolmaster, and a
constable so dull that he is named Dull. Letters and poems are
misdelivered, confessions are overheard, entertainments are
presented, and language is played with, and misused, by the
ignorant and learned alike. At a deeper level, Love's Labor's Lost
also teases the mind. The men begin with the premise that women
either are seductresses or goddesses. The play soon makes it clear,
however, that the reality of male-female relations is different.
That women are not identical to men's images of them is a common
theme in Shakespeare's plays. In Love's Labor's Lost it receives
one of its most pressing examinations. The authoritative edition of
Love's Labor's Lost from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the
trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general
readers, includes: -The exact text of the printed book for easy
cross-reference -Hundreds of hypertext links for instant navigation
-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 the
play's famous lines and phrases -An introduction to reading
Shakespeare's language -An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar
providing a modern perspective on the play -Fresh images from the
Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books -An
annotated guide to further reading Essay by William C. Carroll The
Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, 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. For more
information, visit Folger.edu.
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