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Much ado about nothing (1908) PDF by William Shakespeare

The comedy of much ado about nothing

The comedy of much ado about nothing
William Shakespeare


Introd. and notes by Henry Norman Hudson. Edited and rev. by Ebenezer Charlton Black.

Excerpt from the introduction:

The main story of Much Ado About Nothing turns upon a stratagem by which a lover, Claudio, on the eve of his marriage is made to believe that his betrothed, Hero, is unfaithful. She has been personated by one of her waiting-women and so exposed to peril and disgrace. Claudio accuses Hero before the altar and breaks off the marriage. The repudiated bride is overcome with humiliation. It is given out that she is dead, but the villainy of which she is the victim is unmasked by the help of a pompous parish constable, Dogberry, whose watchmen have overheard the story of the plot, and after complications and disguises Hero is restored to Claudio. 

The more serious matter of the play has inwoven the love-making of Hero's cousin Beatrice and Claudio's friend Benedick. They appear first as witty and brilliant jesters at love, flouting each other in an atmosphere of banter and good-humored disdain, but by a trick their friends make them believe that each loves the other, and the tragic relations in which Hero is involved bring out what is deepest and noblest in their natures. 

They agree to befriend the slandered bride, and when Hero is restored to Claudio, Benedick and Beatrice plight troth as man and wife. " Perhaps," says Hazlitt, " the middle point of comedy was never more nicely hit, in which the ludicrous blends with the tender, and our follies, turning round against themselves, in support of our affections, retain nothing but their humanity."

The text of this edition of Much Ado About Nothing is based upon a collation of the Quarto of 1600, the seventeenth-century Folios, the Globe edition, and the Cambridge (W. Aldis Wright) edition of 1891. 

As compared with the text of the earlier editions of the Hudson Shakespeare, it is conservative. Exclusive of changes in spelling, punctuation, and stage directions, very few emendations by eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century editors have been adopted; and these, with variations from the First Folio, are indicated in the textual notes. 

These notes are printed immediately below the text, so that a reader or student may see at a glance the evidence in the case of a disputed reading, and have some definite understanding of the reasons for those differences in the text of Shakespeare which frequently surprise and very often annoy. Such an arrangement should be of special help in the case of a play universally read and often acted since no two actors or interpreters agree in adhering to one text. 

A consideration of the more poetical, or the more dramatically effective, of two variant readings will often lead to rich results in awakening a spirit of discriminating interpretation and in developing creative criticism. In no sense is this a textual variorum edition. The variants given are only those of importance and of high authority. 

The spelling of the text is modern except in the case of verb terminations in -ed, which, when thee is silent, are printed with the apostrophe in its place. This is the general usage in the First Folio. The important contractions in the First Folio may indicate Elizabethan pronunciation.

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