All's Well That Ends Well

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Overview

The daughter of a renowned physician pursues her passion for an elusive bridegroom through a comic maze of mistaken identities, betrayals, repentance, and dramatic revelation. This extraordinary combination of romantic melodrama and outright farce offers a thought-provoking subtext on the way to fulfilling the promise of its title.
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All's Well That Ends Well

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Overview

The daughter of a renowned physician pursues her passion for an elusive bridegroom through a comic maze of mistaken identities, betrayals, repentance, and dramatic revelation. This extraordinary combination of romantic melodrama and outright farce offers a thought-provoking subtext on the way to fulfilling the promise of its title.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Adding entirely new annotations to the text, providing a lucid overview of the play's production history, concluding with an instructive essay on a theatrical understanding of reading plays, and illustrated with suggestive film stills throughout, Kathleen Kalpin Smith's All's Well that Ends Well is a welcome edition to the New Kittredge Shakespeare series, richly setting the play in the context of stage and screen performance."
—W. B. Worthen, Barnard College, Columbia University

Even as the New Kittredge Shakespeare series glances back to George Lyman Kittredge's student editions of the plays, it is very much of our current moment: the slim editions are targeted largely at high school and first-year college students who are more versed in visual than in print culture. Not only are the texts of the plays accompanied by photographs or stills from various stage and cinema performances: the editorial contributions are performance-oriented, offering surveys of contemporary film interpretations, essays on the plays as performance pieces, and an annotated filmography. Traditional editorial issues (competing versions of the text, cruxes, editorial emendation history) are for the most part excluded; the editions focus instead on clarifying the text with an eye to performing it. There is no disputing the pedagogic usefulness of the New Kittredge Shakespeare's performance-oriented approach. At times, however, it can run the risk of treating textual issues as impediments, rather than partners, to issues of performance. This is particularly the case with a textually vexed play such as Pericles: Prince of Tyre. In the introduction to the latter, Jeffrey Kahan notes the frequent unintelligibility of the play as originally published: "the chances of a reconstructed text matching what Shakespeare actually wrote are about 'nil'" (p. xiii) But his solution — to use a "traditional text" rather than one corrected as are the Oxford and Norton Pericles — obscures how this "traditional text," including its act and scene division, is itself a palimpsest produced through three centuries of editorial intervention. Nevertheless, the series does a service to its target audience with its emphasis on performance and dramaturgy. Kahan's own essay about his experiences as dramaturge for a college production of Pericles is very good indeed, particularly on the play's inability to purge the trace of incestuous desire that Pericles first encounters in Antioch. Other plays' cinematic histories: Annalisa Castaldo's edition of Henry V contrasts Laurence Oliver's and Branagh's film productions; Samuel Crowl's and James Wells's edition of (respectively) I and 2 Henry IV concentrate on Welle's Chimes at Midnight and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho; Patricia Lennox's edition of As You Like It offers an overview of four Hollywood and British film adaptations; and John R. Ford's edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream provides a spirited survey of the play's rich film history.

The differences between, and comparative merits of, various editorial series are suggested by the three editions of The Taming of the Shrew published this year. Laury Magnus's New Kittredge Shakespeare edition is, like the other New Kittredge volumes, a workable text for high school and first year college students interested in film and theater. The introduction elaborates on one theme — Elizabethan constructions of gender — and offers a very broad performance history, focusing on Sam Taylor's and Zeffirelli's film versions as well as adaptations such as Kiss Me Kate and Ten Things I Hate About You (accompanied by a still of ten hearthtrobs Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles). The volume is determined to eradicate any confusion that a first time reader of the play might experience: the dramatis personae page explains that "Bianca Minola" is "younger daughter to Baptista, wooed by Lucentio-in-disguise (as Cambio) and then wife to him, also wooed by the elderly Gremio and Hortensio-in-disguise (as Licio)" (p.1). Other editorial notes, based on Kittredge's own, are confined mostly to explaining individual words and phrases: additional footnotes discuss interpretive choices made by film and stage productions. Throughout, the editorial emphasis is on the play less as text than as performance piece, culminating in fifteen largely performance-oriented "study questions" on topics such as disguise, misogyny, and violence.

Studies in English Literature, Tudor and Stuart Drama, Volume 51, Spring 2011, Number 2, pages 497-499.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781116021257
  • Publisher: BiblioBazaar
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 9.69 (w) x 7.44 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Snyder is Gil and Frank Mustin Professor of English Literature, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.

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Read an Excerpt


Introduction to the Kittredge edition of All's Well That Ends Well

For the text of All’s Well that Ends Well the First Folio is our only authority. The date of composition is very uncertain. Much of the blank verse suggests a time much later than one would infer from the rhyming passages. Probably Shakespeare revised, and in part rewrote, an earlier play of his own. There is slight ground for the conjecture that the earlier play was from some other hand.

In its present form the play may be safely dated about 1602. In its earlier form it may have been the Love Labour’s Won mentioned by Meres in 1598. That would be an appropriate title for it. On the other hand, one would expect Love Labour’s Won to be more in the tone and temper of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

External evidence as to date is almost nil. In The Weakest Goeth to the Wall (printed in 1600), there is a Dutchman whose pet ejaculation is ‘lustick,’ and some regard Lafew’s ‘Lustick! as the Dutchman says’ (ii, 3, 47), as an allusion to this character. But the article ‘the’ is probably generic, and Shakespeare must have been personally acquainted with many Dutchmen, to say nothing of his familiarity with stage Dutch or German. The Clown’s mention of an earthquake (i, 3, 91), if read in the context, does not sound like anything that must needs have been suggested by the earthquake actually felt in England on December 24, 1601. However, even if these points are of no significance, they at least do not conflict with what is in any case a reasonable date.

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Table of Contents

All's well that ends well : a genealogy of the text
The actors' names
All's well that ends well 2
All's well that ends well 3
Textual notes 186
The problem of 'Lord G' and 'Lord E' 227
Authorities cited 230
Facsimile reproduction 234
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Customer Reviews

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