"The Merry Wives of Windsor", Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare's only thoroughly English comedy, created an archetypal literary figure in the shape of the devious, irrepressible John Falstaff.

This stimulating new edition celebrates the play as a joyous exploration of language, but also places elements of its plot firmly in a continental, specifically Italian, tradition of romantic comedy.

It draws out the complexities of Merry Wives as a multi-plot play, and takes a fresh and challenging look at both textual and dating issues; a facsimile of the first Quarto is included as an appendix.

The play's extensive performance history, both dramatic and operatic, is fully explored and discussed.'This is a significant and substantive edition, in that nothing has been taken for granted, everything has been opened to reconsideration.

The commentary is exceptionally detailed and attentive to questions of language and meaning.'John Jowett, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, Shakespeare Quarterly


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Shakespeare plays
  • ISBN: 9781904271123

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Well, behold the man. The Falstaff who whooped it up with Prince Hal is to the Falstaff of <i>The Merry Wives of Windsor</i> as one like unto an ancestor-god, even if it's the latter wearing Herne horns. From history's greates Lusty Fool, in a near-tie with Li Po, to a foolhardy lustbucket in a buckbasket. And okay, we all diminish with time (I suddenly imagine the 15th-century Sir John as a seminal founder, a literal ancestor of his 17th-century counterpart), and it's a play where the women get the better of the men, so that makes his buffoonery appro, but it's still leavened with that little bit of tin-eared nasty where you just don't want him to tell the story about the stripper who wouldn't take her bottoms off and didn't get no tip.And the other men are thin gruel, and the women are better, especially Mistress Quikly, but you don't want to forgive them for thinking up that amazing scene where the children dress as fairies and then not coming to life and honeytonguing the playwright into writing what would have obviously been the best scene in all of shakespeare, the one where the Elizabbethan children get ready to play Elizabethan Peter Pans.All in all it's a confection, evidently one fit for a (Virgin) Queen, since the mythology says she commissioned it, but one that leaves a weird flat taste on the modern palate, like one of those early modern pies with cloves squab and a loaf of bread and verjuice in it. Oh, but I'd take three friends to see <i>Sir Hugh Evans and Dr. Caius are Dead</i>.

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