Love's Labour's Lost (Anglais) Broché – 18 juin 2009
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Revue de presse
'… the New Cambridge edition is to be celebrated for the high quality of its scholarship, and especially for its discussion of the play's performance history, which contains fascinating descriptions of radically different productions … Carroll's elegant, enthusiastic, generally chronological discussion of the play's stage history brings to life its verbal brilliance and striking last scene …' English Studies
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Hibbard's footnotes in the text of the play are somewhat austere, in keeping with his general emphasis on the empirical and verifiable. He frequently deploys readings from OED and anthologies of proverbs; he concisely deciphers the arabesques of punning and the bawdy allusions; and he offers fewer evaluative, thematic, and argumentative comments than became customary in the Arden editions.
because of the topical humor and banter rooted in a specific society and moment in
historical time. The average reader will want help. I found that part of the
introduction subtitled "The Play" to be very helpful. The play itself is thoroughly
annotated with expanded explanations where appropriate.
That is a very small example of the verbal jousting and hijinks of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. I understood some of it, though I undoubtedly missed much. The collection of Shakespeare's plays that I am using for my traversal of his work does not contain annotations. That generally serves me well, as I don't wish to get bogged down reading explicative footnotes. Nonetheless, I am tempted to get an annotated volume of LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST and re-read the play along with an explanatory gloss in order that I might better appreciate, and revel in, the extravagant wordplay.
But Shakespeare being Shakespeare, LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST is more than a virtuosic display and celebration of the English language. To be sure, the "plot" is thin. The King of Navarre and three of his lords pledge themselves to three years of ascetic scholarship, including, most significantly, no consorting with women. But no sooner is the ink dry on their signatures than the Princess of France and three of her ladies-in-waiting show up. Each of the men falls for one of the women, and they must reconcile their oaths of chastity with their egos and libidos. They also must win their respective heart's desires, something the women coquettishly resist. Meanwhile the clown Costard vies with the Spanish dandy for the favors of a country wench, the school headmaster and the curate pontificate, and Mote congenially mocks everyone.
Interwoven through the play are a few themes of substance: book learning versus experience; men versus women; the power of love and the evanescent distinction between love of another and love of one's self; and appearance versus reality.
But for me what is most memorable about LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST are the linguistic pyrotechnics. One of the things Harold Bloom writes about the play is so spot-on (plus much more authoritative than anything I say) that I will quote it: "'Love's Labour's Lost' is a festival of language, an exuberant fireworks display in which Shakespeare seems to seek the limits of his verbal resources, and discovers that there are none. Even John Milton and James Joyce, the greatest masters of sound and sense in the English language after Shakespeare, are far outdone by the linguistic exuberance of 'Love's Labour's Lost'."