Four Comedies

The Taming of the Shrew, a Midsummer Night's Dream, the Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night

By William Shakespeare; David Bevington (Editor); David Scott Kastan (Editor)
(Bantam Classics, Mass Market Paperbound, 9780553212815, 736pp.)

Publication Date: January 1988

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Description

The Taming of the Shrew
Robust and bawdy, The Taming of the Shrew captivates audiences with outrageous humor as Katharina, the shrew, engages in a contest of wills–and love–with her bridegroom, Petruchio, in a comedy of unmatched theatrical brilliance, filled with visual gags and witty repartee.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Fairy magic, love spells, and an enchanted wood turn the mismatched rivalries of four young lovers into a marvelous mix-up of desire and enchantment, all touched by Shakespeare’s inimitable vision of the intriguing relationship between dreams and the waking world.

The Merchant of Venice

This dark comedy of love and money contains one of the truly mythic figures in literature–Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. The “pound of flesh” he demands as payment of Antonio’s debt has become a universal metaphor for vengeance. Here, pathos and farce combine with moral complexity and romantic entanglements, to display the extraordinary power and range of Shakespeare at his best.

Twelfth Night

Set in a topsy-turvy world like a holiday revel, this comedy juxtaposes a romantic plot involving separated twins and mistaken identity with a more satiric one about the humiliation of a pompous killjoy. The hilarity is touched with melancholy, and the play ends, not with laughter, but with a clown’s plaintive song.

Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography




About the Author
Popularly known as the 'Bard of Avon', English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare was baptised on 26 April 1564. Not much is known about his date of birth or his formal education. Born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, he moved to London at age 21, where he wrote and acted in plays like Hamlet and As You Like It for the theatre group 'The King's Men'. Shakespeare, who died on 23 April 1616, gave the English language its most beautiful figures of speech, allegories, and images.

David Bevington is Phyllis Fay Horton Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

David Scott Kastan is the George M. Bodman Professor of English at Yale University, USA.
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