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Love's Labour's Lost (eBook)

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Here is one of Shakespeare's most delightful comedies. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is the most influential writer in English history. Shakespeare has been called The Barb of Avon and England's national poet. There are 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and 38 plays in his collected works. He began work as an actor and writer in London first writing comedies and historic Here is one of Shakespeare's most delightful comedies. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is the most influential writer in English history. Shakespeare has been called The Barb of Avon and England's national poet. There are 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and 38 plays in his collected works. He began work as an actor and writer in London first writing comedies and historic plays. He later wrote tragedies. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Othello are some of his more famous plays. Love's Labour's Lost is a comedy in which Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three friends swear to avoid the company of women and devote themselves to study for three years. Their plans go awry when the Princess of France, with her three ladies, arrives on a diplomatic mission.


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Here is one of Shakespeare's most delightful comedies. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is the most influential writer in English history. Shakespeare has been called The Barb of Avon and England's national poet. There are 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and 38 plays in his collected works. He began work as an actor and writer in London first writing comedies and historic Here is one of Shakespeare's most delightful comedies. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is the most influential writer in English history. Shakespeare has been called The Barb of Avon and England's national poet. There are 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and 38 plays in his collected works. He began work as an actor and writer in London first writing comedies and historic plays. He later wrote tragedies. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Othello are some of his more famous plays. Love's Labour's Lost is a comedy in which Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three friends swear to avoid the company of women and devote themselves to study for three years. Their plans go awry when the Princess of France, with her three ladies, arrives on a diplomatic mission.

30 review for Love's Labour's Lost (eBook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    It could be argued that one of the themes of Shakespeare's plays is the glories and failures of language itself. If so, it is truer of Love's Labor's Lost than of any other play in the canon. The courtiers, both in their sparring and wooing (and it is often difficult to tell which is which) engage in so much wordplay that they confuse each other and themselves. The comic characters also engage in continual wordplay, each specific to his stock type: fustian braggadocio, pedantic latinate quibblin It could be argued that one of the themes of Shakespeare's plays is the glories and failures of language itself. If so, it is truer of Love's Labor's Lost than of any other play in the canon. The courtiers, both in their sparring and wooing (and it is often difficult to tell which is which) engage in so much wordplay that they confuse each other and themselves. The comic characters also engage in continual wordplay, each specific to his stock type: fustian braggadocio, pedantic latinate quibbling, malapropism, etc. Excess of language piles upon excess of language, obscuring the genuine romantic interest these young people have in each other, until plain-spoken death--in this case, a courtier in a black suit--enters and interrupts their idle chatter, bringing the play to an abrupt conclusion. And, as Hamlet would say, "The rest is silence."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "honorificabilitudinitatibus!" - William Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost The plot was a bit underwhelming but the dialogue was razor sharp. Sometimes, Shakespeare's early plays just seem like discoing dervishes in a mirror-adorned room. As a reader we are amazed, dazzled, and distracted by all that is going on, by the spinning virtuosity of Shakespeare's words, by his absolute mastery of the English language, by his dash, his deft slight-of-tongues. There just doesn't seem to be ENOUGH central na "honorificabilitudinitatibus!" - William Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost The plot was a bit underwhelming but the dialogue was razor sharp. Sometimes, Shakespeare's early plays just seem like discoing dervishes in a mirror-adorned room. As a reader we are amazed, dazzled, and distracted by all that is going on, by the spinning virtuosity of Shakespeare's words, by his absolute mastery of the English language, by his dash, his deft slight-of-tongues. There just doesn't seem to be ENOUGH central narrative gravity to IT to pull the reader completely through IT. LLL just seems heavy on the baroque icing and less focused on any narrative complexity. Shakespeare data dumps his genius for wit, flirtatious innuendo, and language with some fantastic lines, but wasn't flirting with a fully-developed form yet. I feel like I'm looking at early, beautiful Picasso sketches, Da Vinci cartoons, a beautiful homunculus of the future Shakespeare formed . But I want more. It really isn't you Shakespeare it is me. Still, the play is fun, a frolic, a half-jest and nudge. It is also Shakespeare playing with the comedic form. He is rejecting and twisting the form to suit his wishes. Not yet the master of the English World, he is playing the master he will soon be. I can't disagree too much with Harold Bloom: "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." Some of my favorite quotes: ― “Never durst a poet touch a pen to write Until his ink was tempered with love's sighs. ... From women's eyes this doctrine I derive: They are the ground, the books, the academes, From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire” (Act IV.3). ― “They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps” (Act V.1) ― “O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon” (Act V.1).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Love's Labour's Lost, William Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s for a performance at the Inns of Court before Queen Elizabeth I. It follows the King of Navarre and his three companions as they attempt to swear off the company of women for three years in order to focus on study and fasting. Their subsequent infatuation with the Princess of France and her ladies makes them forsworn. In an nontraditional e Love's Labour's Lost, William Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s for a performance at the Inns of Court before Queen Elizabeth I. It follows the King of Navarre and his three companions as they attempt to swear off the company of women for three years in order to focus on study and fasting. Their subsequent infatuation with the Princess of France and her ladies makes them forsworn. In an nontraditional ending for a comedy, the play closes with the death of the Princess's father, and all weddings are delayed for a year. The play draws on themes of masculine love and desire, reckoning and rationalization, and reality versus fantasy. عنوانها: تلاش بیهوده عشق: نمایشنامه؛ رنج بیهوده عشق؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1977 میلادی عنوان: تلاش بیهوده عشق: نمایشنامه؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: علاءالدین پازارگادی؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، 1356؛ در 2 و 211 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1396؛ در 117 ص، و هجده، شابک: 9786001215476؛ موضوع: نمایشنامه های کلاسیک از نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 16 م عنوان: رنج بیهوده عشق؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ مترجم: فریده مهدوی دامغانی، تهران، اهواز، 1378، در 160 ص؛ شابک: 9646581137؛ نمایشنامه‌ ی کمدی «درد بیهوده عشق (تلاش بیهوده عشق)» اثر: ویلیام شکسپیر بیهمتاست، که در حدود سالهای 1590 تا 1592 میلادی، نگاشته شده‌ است. شکسپیرشناسان، همگی از این نمایشنامه، به عنوان نخستین کمدی ایشان، یاد می‌کنند. ماخذی برای این اثر شناسایی نشده‌، نمایش در پنج پرده تدوین شده، و دارای هفده شخصیت، و تعدادی سیاهی لشکر است. شخصیت‌های اصلی نمایش: «فردیناند: پادشاه ناواره، که تصمیم گرفته‌ است دربارش را به آکادمی علم و دانش تبدیل کند.»؛ «پرنسس فرانسه: دوشیزه‌ ای با نجابت، و طبعی شاهوار، که هنگام رخداد نمایش، به عنوان سفیر ویژه‌ ای از فرانسه مهمان شاه است.»؛ «سر ناتانائیل: کشیشی طفره رو»؛ «مرکاد: یک قاصد»؛ «بردن، دوماین و لانگاویل: دوستان و ملازمان شاه»؛ «روزالین: هرزه‌ ای با جبین همچون مخمل، از ندیمه‌ های پرنسس»؛ «ماریا»؛ «کاترین»؛ «بویه»؛ «کاستارد»؛ «آنتونی دال»؛ «دون داریانو دو آرمادو»؛ «ماث»؛ «ژاکوئنتا»؛ «هولوفرنس»؛«دو هنرمند»، «نجیب زادگان دربار»، «یک جنگلبان»، و«پیشکاران».؛ مکان رخدادهای نمایشنامه: یک سرزمین پادشاهی کهن در «شمال اسپانیا»، و «جنوب فرانسه»، به نام: «ناواره» است.؛ «فردیناند پادشاه ناواره» ناگهان اراده کرده‌ است، که به جای تفریحات معمولی و همیشگی درباری، کاخ خود را، به صورت آکادمی، برای کسب علم و دانش، درآورد. در مجلس عیشی که در کاخ برگزار می‌شود، سرانجام میعاد بسته می‌شود، که در مدت سه سال، مردان دربار، جز مطالعه، و روزه گرفتن، و تنها سه ساعت خواب در شبانه روز، کار دیگری انجام ندهند؛ و از همه مهمتر با هیچ زنی نیز حرف نزنند...؛ ا. شربیانی

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    What I learned from this play: 1. It is probably not the best laid plan to entrust the delivery of an urgent piece of mail to the town goof. 2. If a woman who you are not on romantic terms with suddenly shows up at your residence for a lengthy visit(???), do not make her camp out in the backyard. Let her have the nicest bed...and change the sheets perhaps. Shakespeare didn't mention that part - i'm just extrapolating... 3. While it is great fun to hang out with a group of guys and obsessively watc What I learned from this play: 1. It is probably not the best laid plan to entrust the delivery of an urgent piece of mail to the town goof. 2. If a woman who you are not on romantic terms with suddenly shows up at your residence for a lengthy visit(???), do not make her camp out in the backyard. Let her have the nicest bed...and change the sheets perhaps. Shakespeare didn't mention that part - i'm just extrapolating... 3. While it is great fun to hang out with a group of guys and obsessively watch/quote Seinfeld, Lebowski, etc, in reality such an activity does not fall under the mantle of academic scholarship and most women will probably make fun of guys for overdoing it. The possible penalties for ignoring these guidelines may include one year of indentured servitude as a candy striper. I really wish that I would have read this when I was in my early twenties... Two additional thoughts: 1. This play made me want to hug the person who invented footnotes. 2. I can't wait for the next time someone pulls out in front of me while driving so that I can call that person a whoreson loggerhead.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    The 2000 film of this play got me in trouble because I was laughing so loudly at Shakespeare; I was told after the film, Everybody (maybe 15 in the theater) HATES you. (Guess Americans are not s'posed to laugh at Great Drama--or poetry, either.) Arguably Shakespeare's most Shakespearean play, or interplay: the exchanges of wit, what he would have overheard at Middle Temple and among his fellow actors. Rather than the text, I'll comment on Branagh's musical version, with himself as Berowne and Di The 2000 film of this play got me in trouble because I was laughing so loudly at Shakespeare; I was told after the film, Everybody (maybe 15 in the theater) HATES you. (Guess Americans are not s'posed to laugh at Great Drama--or poetry, either.) Arguably Shakespeare's most Shakespearean play, or interplay: the exchanges of wit, what he would have overheard at Middle Temple and among his fellow actors. Rather than the text, I'll comment on Branagh's musical version, with himself as Berowne and Director, Scorsese as producer. It's hilarious, especially for a Shakespearean; I laughed throughout so much (my laugh scares babies) one lady in the audience came up to me after the film to kindly inform, "Everybody in this room HATES you." I thanked her for the admonition. Very slow, stagey opening lines by the Prince. Dunno why. They cut the poetry criticism, and substitute the American songbook--Gershwin, Berlin--for poems. The Don Armado stuff (with Moth his sidekick) is broad, not literary: mustachioed, funny body, melancholy humor. Armado's the most overwritten love-letter, parodying catechism; but he is standard Plautine Braggart Soldier ("Miles Gloriosus") by way of commedia dell'arte. Then the Plautine Pedant (commedia Dottore) Holofernia crosses gender, a female professor type. Costard wears a suit, maybe a Catskills standup. Branagh cuts the Russian (or fake-Russian) lingo, "muoosa-Cargo" of the masked entrance. Wonderful 30's film cliches: female swimmers, the dance scenes, the prop plane's night takeoff. Ends with WWII, grainy newsreel footage of the year, after news of the French Princess's father's death. Berowne (pronounced .."oon") is sentenced privately "to move wild laughter in the throat of death…" His judge, Rosaline, points out the Bard's instruction on jokes: "A jest's prosperity lies in the ear / Of him that hears it, never in the tongue / Of him that makes it" (V.end). LLL ends with death and winter (the Russian an intimation?): "When icicles hang by the wall,/ And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,/ And Tom bears logs into the hall,/ And milk comes frozen home in pails.." and the owl talks, "Tu-whit..Tu whoo, a merry note/ While greasy Joan doth keel the pot." That's the European Tawny Owl (male and female must combine for it) so an American director might replace with the same prosody, "Who cooks for youuu?"(the Barred Owl). In the penultimate scene, Dull is onstage the whole scene never speaking a word until Holofernes says, "Thou hast spoken no word the while," to which Dull, "Nor understood none neither, sir." Well, no wonder, if he has no Latin, for Costard offers, "Go to, thou has it AD dunghill…as they say." Hol, "Oh, I smell false Latin--dunghill for UNGUEM." The Bard kindly explains the Latin joke, essential for modern American readers. Incidentally, Berowne uses Moliere-like rhymed couplets in his social satire on Boyet, V.ii.315ff. His most daring rhymes, "sing/ushering" and maybe "debt/Boyet."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    I read Act 1 through Act 4 then definitely gave up. This is the hardest play to comprehend because the vocab was really under-explained, and I really didn't like any of the characters. I saw the play when my school did a production of it but they twisted it to have Harry Potter references, and even then it was confusing and weird. I'm just not a fan.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Vacca

    Another terrific comedy from everyone's favorite Elizabethan playwright. This time Shakespeare throws a curveball that conforms to the popular conventions of stagecraft at the time (courtesy of Aristotle's list of Dramatic Do's and Don'ts in Poetics) and then confounds the typical endgame scenario for a Comedy, i.e. the obligatory pairing off of every single dude and dudette on the stage into forever happy marriages. The first four acts concern a king and his four loyal lords who make a pact to Another terrific comedy from everyone's favorite Elizabethan playwright. This time Shakespeare throws a curveball that conforms to the popular conventions of stagecraft at the time (courtesy of Aristotle's list of Dramatic Do's and Don'ts in Poetics) and then confounds the typical endgame scenario for a Comedy, i.e. the obligatory pairing off of every single dude and dudette on the stage into forever happy marriages. The first four acts concern a king and his four loyal lords who make a pact to study in isolation for three years, swearing off all fun and women. This pact lasts for all of about ten minutes when a princess - attended by, naturally, three of her own ladies-in-wait - with some courtly business shows up to burst their testosteronic bubble. Being the refined, scholarly gents that they are, all four of our nobleman commence with the double-dealing as they try and snag up a lady while the gettin's good. The second half of LLL goes down entirely within the fifth act, as the noblemen enact a plan involving a play within a play that they just know is bound to succeed at getting them all laid. Thankfully the women are all intelligent and independent enough to know a pack of lame hams when they see one, and so the climax freewheels into a full-force mockery of these silly, pretentious wooers. Shakespeare's banter is on fire in triple-L, with nearly every line gleefully packed with zesty wordplay and clever punning. The characters are all inspired comedic inventions, especially the men who are all unmasked as clowns for their perceptions of what women want. So not only do we have Shakespeare's takedown of academic pretension, but also that 16th century proto-feminist satire you've all been hankering for. Whew!

  8. 5 out of 5

    leynes

    As I was reading this play my old and used copy of it was literally falling apart. With each page that I turned the binding loosened more and more... and honestly, I'm not even mad. By reading this I lost part of my faith in Willie Shakes. When I first got into his work I was highly entertained by his comedies, they were all super accessible and very quick reads (definitely not as dense as his histories) and on top of that quite light and fun (unlike his tragedies). However, the more comedies I As I was reading this play my old and used copy of it was literally falling apart. With each page that I turned the binding loosened more and more... and honestly, I'm not even mad. By reading this I lost part of my faith in Willie Shakes. When I first got into his work I was highly entertained by his comedies, they were all super accessible and very quick reads (definitely not as dense as his histories) and on top of that quite light and fun (unlike his tragedies). However, the more comedies I read the more I despise them. I can't believe I'm saying this but they are too foolish for me. Most of them are so silly and ridiculous that it's almost depressing. In Love's Labour's Lost the King of Navarre and three of his homeboys pledge to foreswear women and other earthly pleasures. For three years, they want to commit their lives to academia and study. No women, not much food, not much sleep. Dumaine and Longueville agree immediately (probably because they have no backbone... because honestly who in their right mind would agree to that? 3 fucking years? Call me out.) but Berowne is like "nah, bitch" I just like pussy too much (which is relatable of course but why was he then so easily persuaded to take the oath nonetheless). Whatever. Pretty soon it becomes clear that the King doesn't even have a fucking brain cell because part of his rules and oath is that no women are allowed at his court (well who's cooking the food then? sorry, I'm taking my sexist ass out myself. thank you.) and the Princess of France is already on her way to visit him. What you gonna do with her? Let her sleep on the porch and risk another war between France and your tiny ass kingdom. Stupid ass. So, immediately, not even a week after his oath, the King breaks his rules by admitting the princess and her ladies to his court. What then ensues takes fuckery to a whole 'nother level: the Princess comes with three other ladies, well, what a fucking surprise that the King has three minions as well. Berowne and Rosaline are immediately enamoured with each other, Dumaine and Katharine hit it off, Longueville and Maria are and item and the Princess and the King cannot fight their sexual tension. And I'm left there standing like: BITCH YOU HAD ONE JOB. Adieu, valour: rust, rapier: be still, drum, for your manager is in love: yea, he loveth. Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit: write, pen, for I am for whole volumes in folio. The men, being men, don't want to admit to each other that they have broken their oaths and so they claim that they haven't fallen in love. None of them are convincing and so rather quickly and openly the King proclaims that it's now time to woe this women for good. Like??? Two days ago you wanted to start your three-year-celibacy, what happened to that, bro? We are then exposed to the most cringy courtship I've ever seen in my life... way too many cheesy love sonnets (Willie I know for a fact that you can better than this: “Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love.” I mean, count me out) and masquerades in which the ladies try to trick the men... and I'm like, you ain't the merry wives of Windsor, you cannot pull this off. Bye. And then at the end Willie wants to be awfully clever by denying us four weddings (he was probably working on a budget... I mean these marriages are costly to stage, let's be real) and the ladies have to rush off in a hurry since it is announced that the Princess's father has just passed away. The ladies tell they men that they won't be available for a year but if the men are still interested in them in 365 years (...I doubt it) they'll all marry them. I mean... I can't make that shit up. Love's Labour's Lost starts disappointingly and ends in the same fashion. Not a play I would recommend. The structure is beyond wild: the first three acts are incredibly short, the fourth act is considerably longer and then the fifth act features the longest scene in Shakespeare's entire canon. Yes, that scene alone is longer than most full acts in Shakespeare's canon. My man, what are you doing? The play also features one of the most obnoxious and annoying characters in Shakespeare's canon, the Latin master Holofernes who speaks the longest words ever uttered in Shakespeare's canon. That word is "honorificabilitudinitatibus". Shoot me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    Three men sworn off girls, then they see hot girls. They then proceed to forget their oath. “From women's eyes this doctrine I derive: They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain and nourish all the world.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    I am currently reading all of Shakespeare's plays. This is the seventh, and most disappointing thus far. Now, this is a comedy with immense amounts of wordplay, puns, various malapropisms, etc., so to fully appreciate this play, and unless one has an inordinate knowledge of early modern English - which I do not - an annotated version is the way to go. This is what I did. I also read a lot of commentary and criticism, both positive and negative. One of the best comments I found was that this play I am currently reading all of Shakespeare's plays. This is the seventh, and most disappointing thus far. Now, this is a comedy with immense amounts of wordplay, puns, various malapropisms, etc., so to fully appreciate this play, and unless one has an inordinate knowledge of early modern English - which I do not - an annotated version is the way to go. This is what I did. I also read a lot of commentary and criticism, both positive and negative. One of the best comments I found was that this play is the best evidence that Shakespeare is meant to be seen on stage, not read, and yes, yes, I found that to be so true. There were times I could not read more than a few pages as I had to read, re-read, read aloud, then decipher the words I did not know, the words which were plays on other words, or malapropisms on words whose definitions have changed over the last 400 years. But, thankfully, the play is a comedy! Yet somehow the comic intent was often lost on me after deciphering, taking notes, reading and re-reading. The story... It concerns four young men - the King of Navarre and three of his friends - who vow to spend three years in study, and eating and sleeping very little. They forswear women, in other words, which right off the bat sets up a lot of possible comedic scenarios. But even in that first scene the impossibility of doing this is revealed when one of them remembers that the Princess of France is due to visit and that the King cannot possibly hold to his oath if he is to greet and entertain the princess. Well he doesn't allow her into his castle, but makes her pitch a tent in the field. From then on it's all the women can do NOT to bring the men to heel. They disguise themselves in one scene and in another are entertained by the men who put on a play-within-a-play. There are various other characters, including a teacher, a curate and a fool who interact with - and often misunderstand each other. (The King falls in love with the princess and his three friends fall in love with the Princess' three ladies.) This is Shakespeare playing with the audience AND a way to show off his knowledge of words, Latin, his comedic timing, and his skill in developing characters with only dialogue and limited action on stage. Well, about 100 wordplay, pun laden and endless, repetitious pages of dialogue later, plus copious references to mythology, (which thankfully I do know a lot about), the play ends with the ladies and princess going home to France but promising to return. Really, not a lot happens here other than the endless talking. (Okay, lots of talking = almost any play, but this was overboard.) Reading it, I often got tired and that hated 'B' word, bored. (Bored is the one word I hate more than any other.) But I was. I kept saying: it's a masterpiece! Go with it! It'll pay off! You'll learn more about words and Shakespeare's skill than in most of his other plays and then... I got so tired I fell asleep one day reading this in a sunny window. haha! I haven't fallen asleep with a book in my lap in over 20 years! Still and all, the fault is mine. I might return to this play later, but for now I move on to a good solid tragedy or historical. The play's the thing, but the thing is not always my thing. Three stars, for now.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zachary F.

    They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps. -Act 5, Scene 1 This is probably my favorite of the three comedies I've read so far on my chronological journey through Shakespeare's works (the other two being The Comedy of Errors and The Two Gentlemen of Verona ), though it's also the densest and most challenging of the trio. The analysis I've read on this play makes a great deal of its preoccupation with language, the excessiveness of the wordplay even by Shakespearean sta They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps. -Act 5, Scene 1 This is probably my favorite of the three comedies I've read so far on my chronological journey through Shakespeare's works (the other two being The Comedy of Errors and The Two Gentlemen of Verona ), though it's also the densest and most challenging of the trio. The analysis I've read on this play makes a great deal of its preoccupation with language, the excessiveness of the wordplay even by Shakespearean standards, and that seems pretty spot-on to me. I depended a lot on my footnotes to make sense of this one, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s not performed very widely today. That being said, there’s plenty to recommend Love’s Labour’s Lost. There are a number of memorable characters, especially (for me) the pretentious Spanish courtier Don Armado, and that obsessive attention to words and their uses allows Shakespeare to have a lot of fun with the mannerisms and verbal tics of each. It’s also maybe the first Shakespeare play to really emphasize the strength and intelligence of its women, with the level-headed female characters exerting far more influence over the bombastic and arrogant men than vice versa. Finally, this is one of only two Shakespeare plays (the second being The Tempest) without an identifiable source text. That doesn’t necessarily mean Will wasn’t drawing from existing materials, but it does at least allow for the possibility that this story is one of the most purely Shakespearean of all Shakespeare’s works. The subversive final act, which defies the comedic conventions of the day by leaving its characters still single (for the time being, at least) at the end, seems to me to lend evidence to that conclusion. Probably not the best Shakespeare to start with, but interesting and a lot of fun for those who already consider themselves fans. In the second act, a character is described who "[d]elivers in such apt and gracious words / That aged ears play truant at his tales, / And younger hearings are quite ravished; / So sweet and voluble is his discourse." The same could be said, of course, of Will.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    This is one of my favorite plays. I think of it as Shakespeare making fun of the educated class. In fact, I think this is Shakespeare using his massive imitation skills to make fun of them. Very fun play. Lots of word play. 2017 Update: Listened to Arkangel Audio and while the production was wonderful and the voices talented, it was confusing to keep up with 4 couples of roughly the same age with just voices. Better to have the book on hand when doing this one in audio.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. This is one of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, written when his greatest works were still years ahead of him. Yet Love’s Labor’s Lost is notably stronger than the comedies that preceded it—in plot, in characterization, and in thematic unity. The play’s defining feature, however, is the exuberance of Shakespearean language on display. The wordplay dances on the edge of sense, sometimes straying into phrases so garb He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. This is one of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, written when his greatest works were still years ahead of him. Yet Love’s Labor’s Lost is notably stronger than the comedies that preceded it—in plot, in characterization, and in thematic unity. The play’s defining feature, however, is the exuberance of Shakespearean language on display. The wordplay dances on the edge of sense, sometimes straying into phrases so garbled as to be beyond comprehension. To pick just one example, here is a line from the first scene: “Light seeking light doth light of light beguile.” Now, perhaps the leisurely analyst can extract something from that; but the playgoer watching it performed has little hope. This may be a rather cynical reading, but to me the play focuses on the theme of vanity. The King of Navarre decides to shut himself and his friends up for a period of three years in order to live in virtuous study. This is not done out of any genuine love of knowledge—indeed they ridicule the pedant—but with the hope of achieving that vanity of vanities: immortal fame. This plan is quickly scrapped when the men are confronted with women, with whom they promptly fall in love. Yet it becomes painfully clear that these lovers are really in love with their own reflections, addicted to the feeling of seeing themselves mirrored in loving eyes. As the mask scene makes evident, the identity of the woman hardly matters to them, just that the woman gaze back. Though Lord Berowne is a winsome and witty character, I admit that I was more taken with the auxiliary comedic attractions: the melodramatic Spaniard, Amado, and his saucy page, Moth; and most of all the scholar, Holofernes, whose mode of speech is such a perfect satire of pedantry that I am sure Shakespeare was personally well-acquainted with professors. The play is famous for breaking the defining rule of comedy. It ends, not with a happy marriage, but with the announcement of the death of the King of France and the consequent deferment of marriage. Indeed, the play leaves open whether the marriages are ever carried through, since two of the matches are conditional on elaborate forms of penance that the women demand their vain men perform in the interim. One doubts whether the King of Navarre and Berowne are up the task. The play is saved from ending on a note of disappointment by a very clever and lovely song that Shakespeare inserts: a dialogue between spring and winter, or between the Cuckoo and the Owl, whose rustic words pierce the affected, pretentious speech of much of the play, and return us from vain striving to the cycles of nature.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    I found one! A Shakespeare play for which I care very little - dare I say, I don't like! Yet even when confronted with works which do not titillate one's fancy, I imagine one can still find things to respect or even admire within it. While this play does not stimulate me, it may stand as one of Shakespeare's best in regards to his occupation as a wordsmith. He effortlessly plays with words like many athletes juggle balls or sticks. His characters dissect words nearly to the point of voiding them I found one! A Shakespeare play for which I care very little - dare I say, I don't like! Yet even when confronted with works which do not titillate one's fancy, I imagine one can still find things to respect or even admire within it. While this play does not stimulate me, it may stand as one of Shakespeare's best in regards to his occupation as a wordsmith. He effortlessly plays with words like many athletes juggle balls or sticks. His characters dissect words nearly to the point of voiding them of meaning, perhaps leaving the audience look elsewhere for themselves within the play. Comedic? Maybe - to an old English audience more sophisticated in language than this generation. The privileged and care-free circumstances of the characters also disappointed me. They take their social status for granted and in so doing fail to realize any consequence for their boredom induced mockery of love and relationships. Even the King's vow to avoid love and pursue study for three years may suggest his longing for meaning in a privileged life but he devalues the pursuit of that meaning (even if in the wrong direction) by abandoning the vow fairly easily. Only at the end, when real consequence halts the lovers' suits do they realize they do not live in a world apart from agony or sadness rendering their labor's lost. I can respect many things in this play but ultimately the word play and character play fail to comprise a coherent plot or stimulating idea. It all seems meaningless. But perhaps we witness Shakespeare's labor's lost in this endeavor of his loved passion for play writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melora

    Sex jokes and pedant mockery aren't enough to carry a play, and Berowne and Rosaline may be prototypes of Benedick and Beatrice, but they've got a long way to go to reach that couple's level of complexity, sympathy, and charm. Aside from a few good speeches and clever exchanges, this was pretty dull.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jacques Coulardeau

    TRICKY, WITTY, PERVERSE, FEUDAL FOOLS This comedy is, in fact, an anti-comedy because it is tragic because it ends badly and yet with the promise of a perfect ending and four marriages. In spite of this ambiguous conclusion, it is a gem, a diamond, a beauty deep in the dark of the night and in the depth of solitary erotic beds. Of course, Shakespeare is laughing at himself and turning us into foolish turkeys and gullible geese ready to be roasted for some Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration. He TRICKY, WITTY, PERVERSE, FEUDAL FOOLS This comedy is, in fact, an anti-comedy because it is tragic because it ends badly and yet with the promise of a perfect ending and four marriages. In spite of this ambiguous conclusion, it is a gem, a diamond, a beauty deep in the dark of the night and in the depth of solitary erotic beds. Of course, Shakespeare is laughing at himself and turning us into foolish turkeys and gullible geese ready to be roasted for some Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration. He does not forget any of his tricks to entertain us and to make us believe he is telling us a happy and funny story. And there are as many tricks as a turkey or a goose has feathers. Four gentlemen and four gentlewomen, on each side one is of royal blood: the perfect structure of four plus four equals eight. But there will be no wedding. We have to add three men who are chaperoning the French group of Princess plus three ladies. And yet this French group of seven people is not really the happy finishing week of Genesis and is rather an allusion to the Holy Week, true enough with resurrection at the end, but this resurrection does not happen on the stage because of the final ending episode, the death of the French King, the father of the Princess, and the return of the French group of seven people back to France and the promise of all the ladies to come back in one year and one day to marry the four initial gentlemen. That is not simple, is it? But there are a few people who are intervening, heavily for some of them, in the action. Don Adriano De Armado, a braggart from Spain, and his page, Moth, a young teenager who is a real blabberer. But there is a trio of authority figures. First a curate, Nathaniel; second a schoolmaster, Holofernes; and third a constable, Dull, the best-named of the three because he is dull, and that means dumb, rather slow-witted. This last characteristic is, of course, a shame for that man since the whole play is a constant display of wit and witty remarks and confrontations. So far that makes five – ouch! a pentacle, the number, and sign of Beelzebub, the devil, Belial [the Old Testament uses Belial as a personification of evil, not an actual entity. Later, the personification began to be thought of as an actual person, and in the New Testament, Belial is used as a proper name of Satan]. Ouch! That really hurts. But Shakespeare saves us from these wicked people of low reputation, and he adds a sixth one who is not of the same mold, a rustic, a farmer I guess, Costard, a man with the head like a ribbed apple, though in the context between French and English – and even Spanish – that Costard could be a stylish person dressed up in a full suit, though he could also be a poor character that has been wrecked on some coast, from the French expression “échoué à la côte” reinforced by the derogatory ending “-ard” common with this meaning both in French and in English. And that makes six and more or less they all are disoriented and unharmonized people brought together by Shakespeare to make fun of them but six is also the saving gift of Solomon’s wisdom. And we could just add a seventh character to that group, the dairymaid Jaquenetta, the dairymaid all the males around want not to marry, mind you, just to take advantage of. They want, the milk, the cream, the money of the milk and the cream, and on top of it the dairymaid who has probably lost her maidenhead a long time ago since she is the character desired by all males who have the right to take her in exchange of a ribbon or some nice favor. And there we have again the Holy Week with the promise of a resurrection in the form of four marriages in one year and one day if you gentlemen and you gentlewomen are able to keep your promise to wait in abstinence. Ah! Ah! I laugh. Then you have the worthies, the play in the play. They are announced as being nine, but they are never fully enumerated. These worthies are supposed to be impersonated by some of the characters and five will try to come on the stage: Hector of Troy impersonated by the braggart from Spain, Don Adriano de Armano; Pompey the Great impersonated by the rustic Costard; Alexander the Great impersonated by the curate Nathaniel; Hercules impersonated by Moth, the teenager serving as a page to Don Adriano de Armado; and finally Judas Maccabeus impersonated by the schoolmaster Holofernes. They all will never be able to perform their impersonation and they will be kicked out by Biron, one of the gentlemen of the group of four. But the play is a beauty, a gem, and a diamond, not because it is tragic in a distant way but because it is written in a language that is so beautiful and witty that we lose our wits in no time and we get some loose screws in our brains after two pages or five minutes. Shakespeare accumulates sonnets and all sorts of other metaphysical poems, as brilliant as John Donne’s, and his own actually. Just for that pleasure to listen to the shiniest and wittiest language of the many past centuries, this play should be taught to every child in kindergarten. No use trying in universities: they are too old to even consider love as being a serious game with one’s heart and a dangerous hunt for one’s soul. But Shakespeare is of course slightly more complex, and he uses four different styles. Some prose for simple commentary or situational description. Then unrhymed iambic pentameters for banal discourse from the gentlemen and gentlewomen. Then rhymed couplets of iambic pentameters for more sustained discourse from these same. And this style evolves into sonnets now and then built with three four-line quatrains with alternating rhymes and a rhymed two-line envoi. What is interesting is that quite often this four-line quatrain form with alternating rhymes is expanded over longer sections that are no longer sonnets per se but that work with the same music. Now and then Shakespeare cuts up two rhymed section with a line that is not connected to another rhyming line, a solitary unrhymed iambic pentameter to tell us there is a transition. But Shakespeare uses disguises, tricked and tricky of course because of the masks and the exchanged identifying presents. And of course, the women who cheat on the favors they wear trick the men who start courting the favors more than the women, to their own confusion when the trick is revealed. He also uses a play in the play with five classical heroes identified as Worthies who should be nine because 3 times 3 makes nine, doesn’t it, but are not and are only five: who are according to the King, Armado as Hector of Troy; the rustic, or swain, young lover, Costard as Pompey the great; the parish curate Nathaniel as Alexander; Armado’s page Moth as Hercules; the pedant Holofernes, the schoolmaster, as Judas Maccabeus; and the first four of these will have to change habits and impersonate the last four to bring the total to nine. But we will never know who these extra four are. Biron sums up this first group of five as “the pedant, the braggart, the hedge-priest, the fool, and the boy.” But the first five will come up on stage and will never be able to speak and they are in order of appearance: Costard as Pompey; Nathaniel as Alexander who is revealed he should have been the ninth Worthy, Ajax, but he will never be; Holofernes as Judas Maccabeus; Moth as Hercules; Armado as Hector. And the whole thing ends with an accusation about Armado aka Hector and his relation to Jaquenetta aka Helen of Troy who is pregnant and is going to be cast out. This leads to a duel of Armado aka Hector against Costard aka Pompey that will never happen because the Messenger Ex Machina, Marcadé arrives to announce the death of the Princess’s father, the King of France. But even Shakespeare did not know how to finish his silly but witty tale. So, he had a black-appareled gentleman come and disturb the fest to announce to the royal young lady there that her father the King of France had just died. And in spite of that cold shower of a piece of news, the play will find a lighter ending with a song, a sad song that parts the company, with the cuckoo on one side and the owl on the other side, spring and winter, day and night. Life is but a witty farce wrapping up a tragedy in crazy words of dereliction and savagery. The free-wheeling cuckoo becomes a danger: “Cuckoo, cuckoo'- O word of fear,” especially since the call is repeated three disruptive times, yet six syllables but three trochaic feet, and then repeated three times a second time, hence six calls, twelve syllables, the disrupting three is turned into the wise six and then the apostolic twelve, but also the twelve months the gentlemen will have to wait for the gentlewomen to come back. And then we have the watching nocturnal Owl that announces death in the middle of the night, two calls “Tu-whit Tu-whoo,” hence four syllables in iambic rhythm, the standard crucifixion, death of Winter, but repeated a second time and thus bringing the total to eight syllables in four iambs, and that is the promise of a second coming, THE Second Coming, and the second life that comes after this event, eternal life in the messianic Jerusalem, though after the Last Judgment on this Doomsday, and thus Winter, death, becomes a cry of joy in a way, “’ Tu-whit, To-whoo!’ A merry note.” Note the two singers are not identified in the manuscript and have been performed in many ways on various stages. The most standard understanding is that Nathaniel is Spring, and Holofernes is Winter, or the reverse order, Holofernes for Spring, and Nathaniel for Winter. Shakespeare is a genius when he wants to join in the same play the full merriment of young free-floating flotsam and jetsam of aristocratic do-nothing and worth-little social scum and the deepest grief, sorrow, pain and as many tears as possible. He is the best party pooper in the world. And we like him for that, even when he turns the sword around and makes Mercutio string witty remarks on his wound just instants before he falls and dies. Shakespeare will never die or if you prefer, he has not yet found his sexton and gravedigger, provided he is not reduced to one single aspect of his art. He is the most complex basket weaver with multiple layers and tiers of meaning all intertwined, knitted and woven together. It is so tempting to reduce him to one single meaning. But it would be a shame, it is a shame now late Jean-Pierre Richard’s last book has been published under the title “Shakespeare Pornographe,” and it means pornographer, which is one layer and certainly not the main one nor the only one. Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    I didn't like this one and this was the last one on my TBR, so we ended that Shakespeare Binge on a low, it's a shame.

  18. 5 out of 5

    GoldGato

    The King of Navarre and his travelling companions swear to stay away from the company of females and it is a rollicking ride after that. Based on true historical figures (Henri IV of France), this is one of the earliest Shakespeare comedies and one of the least performed of his plays. The first time I read this, it was a required reading (school), so as with anything 'required', I paid little heed. Later, when life provided opportunities for voluntary reading, I went back and gave it a whirl and The King of Navarre and his travelling companions swear to stay away from the company of females and it is a rollicking ride after that. Based on true historical figures (Henri IV of France), this is one of the earliest Shakespeare comedies and one of the least performed of his plays. The first time I read this, it was a required reading (school), so as with anything 'required', I paid little heed. Later, when life provided opportunities for voluntary reading, I went back and gave it a whirl and found it far more enjoyable. Rather like french fries, in fact. Others can review the actual writing of William S. far better than I, so instead let me focus on the actual book. As part of the fun Immortals series, it has the trim red cloth with top edge gold gilt. Measuring 7"x5", it fits neatly in one's hand for solitary walks down canal lanes. My type of book and the type of quality publication no longer seen these days. I must also add that the characters remind me of the common Frat Boys seen on the Vegas Strip on any night. Mr. Shakespeare was always ahead of his time. Book Season = Year Round (lions roar)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tommi

    Like most of Shakespeare’s comedies, this has to be seen onstage to be fully appreciated I think. But reading it seems just as mandatory – LLL is so laden with wordplay that it’s often hard to follow without any prior knowledge of the text (it’s hard to appreciate lines like “Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile” if there’s no time to reflect). It’s certainly not one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, but I think the premise of men secluding themselves from women and nature by forming Like most of Shakespeare’s comedies, this has to be seen onstage to be fully appreciated I think. But reading it seems just as mandatory – LLL is so laden with wordplay that it’s often hard to follow without any prior knowledge of the text (it’s hard to appreciate lines like “Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile” if there’s no time to reflect). It’s certainly not one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, but I think the premise of men secluding themselves from women and nature by forming a homosocial, exclusionary space is increasingly relevant in an age where things like the “red pill movement” flourish among males.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pippi Bluestocking

    What can I say? Shakespeare makes love with the English language in this one. One can easily spot the ingredient that ornamented William's genes and can be found in Austen's and Wilde's as well. Fashionably witty, surprisingly erudite, gently amusing. Truly stunning.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: This comedy is a show of puns and witticisms. There are so many, that sometimes they overwhelm. The trouble is, not even an educated modern Englishman is now capable to detect them all, which means that there are several hundred footnotes. I am afraid this makes the comedy unrepresentable, and of course untranslatable to other languages, although that was the case from the beginning. I am sure Shakespeare had a lot of fun writing this comedy, and I suspect that he was actually pulling t ENGLISH: This comedy is a show of puns and witticisms. There are so many, that sometimes they overwhelm. The trouble is, not even an educated modern Englishman is now capable to detect them all, which means that there are several hundred footnotes. I am afraid this makes the comedy unrepresentable, and of course untranslatable to other languages, although that was the case from the beginning. I am sure Shakespeare had a lot of fun writing this comedy, and I suspect that he was actually pulling the leg of his audience more than once. The argument of this comedy could be summarized as follows: "In the works of love, men play the fool while women take the lead." In fact, the insufferable number of stupid men in the play makes it less believable. Personally, I prefer Comedia famosa del laberinto de amor by Cervantes, a comedy that follows a similar line, without falling into (for me) the same flaws. A few selected quotes: Light seeking light doth light of light beguile. What was a month old at Cain’s birth, that’s not five weeks old as yet? O vain petitioner! beg a greater matter; Thou now request’st but moonshine in the water. ESPAÑOL: Esta comedia es un alarde de juegos de palabras y frases ingeniosas. Son tantas, que a veces abruman. Lo malo es que ni siquiera un inglés moderno educado es ya capaz de detectarlas todas, lo que significa que hay algunos cientos de notas al pie. Me temo que la comedia se vuelto por ello irrepresentable, y desde luego intraducible a otras lenguas, aunque eso ya lo era desde el principio. Estoy seguro de que Shakespeare se divirtió mucho escribiéndola, y sospecho que más de una vez estaba tomando el pelo al público. El argumento de esta comedia podría resumirse así: "En los trabajos de amor, los hombres hacen el tonto y las mujeres llevan la batuta". De hecho, hay demasiados hombres estúpidos en la obra, hasta el punto de que esta se vuelve menos creíble. Personalmente, prefiero a esta comedia "El Laberinto del Amor" de Cervantes, que sigue una línea parecida, sin caer en los mismos defectos (al menos para mí).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Giulia

    "Love is a familiar; Love is a devil: there is no evil angel but Love" Damn, I had never heard of this play and the shame is real. Mainly because this was incredibly good! The wit, rhetorics and play-on-words were on fleek in this one. I thoroughly enjoyed Love’s Labor’s Lost. It was an easy and understandable comedy with lots of humour and wit. And those were honestly the best and most important features of the play. The plot itself wasn’t really intriguing as it was literally a bunch of students "Love is a familiar; Love is a devil: there is no evil angel but Love" Damn, I had never heard of this play and the shame is real. Mainly because this was incredibly good! The wit, rhetorics and play-on-words were on fleek in this one. I thoroughly enjoyed Love’s Labor’s Lost. It was an easy and understandable comedy with lots of humour and wit. And those were honestly the best and most important features of the play. The plot itself wasn’t really intriguing as it was literally a bunch of students in love with a bunch of very smart ladies, and hiding the fact that they were in love because it was not allowed in the school they were at. But they still were very much clearly in love. A thoughtless, light read. On the positive side, though, for as much as the plot was nothing special, the cast of characters was the shining and glorious part of this play. The ladies were bad bitches™️ if I say so myself. Truly enjoyed them and their personalities. But I also have to admit that I liked the guys. Their banter and their wits were so on point. It was truly amazing to read their conversations and their puns and play-on-words. Not gonna lie, I could not fucking stand Holofernes. He was such a pretentious, boring character. God *eye roll* But he was just one character that I would have loved to punch in the face. Which is good. Everybody else was wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending; I truly liked this one! Even if still greatly unrealistic, it was more realistic than anything I’ve recently read. For being a Shakespeare’s comedy, Love's Labor's Lost's ending was nice. This was a good one, and I honestly feel so ashamed that I did not even know about its existence. Wow, I’m a fake English student, apparently. "a sweet touch, a quick venue of wit! snip, snap, quick and home! it rejoiceth my intellect: true wit!"

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wu

    I should probably point out before I begin this review that I have watched the Opus Arte production of it on DVD several times, with subtitles, and it is largely thanks to the skill of the actors that I have managed to understand some of it. Trystan Gravelle as Berowne and Michelle Terry as the Princess of France are particularly brilliant. By which I mean I can understand what they are saying. But all the actors and actresses are excellent. I am always moved by the two songs at the end, which ar I should probably point out before I begin this review that I have watched the Opus Arte production of it on DVD several times, with subtitles, and it is largely thanks to the skill of the actors that I have managed to understand some of it. Trystan Gravelle as Berowne and Michelle Terry as the Princess of France are particularly brilliant. By which I mean I can understand what they are saying. But all the actors and actresses are excellent. I am always moved by the two songs at the end, which are sung by the whole ensemble. The actors' voices are both clear and resonant. The harmonies are magical. But the voices and the harmonies merely carry the words and it is the words that somehow, every time I hear them, cut right through everything and stun me. If you know the words you might think I am exaggerating. I'm not. The words are very simple but they cut very deeply. The imagery in these songs is very clear. We see the flowers in the meadows and hear the cuckoos in the trees and we feel the fear of married men that their wives are being unfaithful. Such is the power of spring. The imagery of winter is even more vivid. Dick, the shepherd, is blowing on his fingers, Tom is bringing in firewood, milk is frozen in the pail, Marian's nose is red and raw, crabs are hissing in a bowl and an owl is hooting while greasy Joan "doth keel the pot." What a spectacular way to end a piece of entertainment that is all about the convoluted wordplay of men and women in the courts of Europe. No, it seems to say, it is not a story about kings and princesses. It is about Dick, Tom, Marian and Joan. It is about simple English folk. Yes, and Chinese ones too. It is about all of us. In spite of all the dizzying wordplay, the message is very simple. You learn about life not from books, not from making oaths of celibacy and studying hard, but from giving yourself to life and experiencing it. Love is an especially powerful teacher for it lives not alone in the brain but courses through all our senses and gives to every power a double power. There is hardly a scene that doesn't celebrate love, erotic love, physical love, lust and passion. But in the end the lovers do not win the hands of the women they love. The women make them wait. A year and a day. Which, as Berowne wryly points out, is "too long for a play." This is not a happy comedy. It is rueful. It is full of fear. In this respect it is very truthful. Life is like that. Erotic love is like that. Whatever is intense is never without some element of dread, of difficulty and pain. Although, it may, while it lasts, spur us on to magnificent flights of eloquence and wit. Parts of this play, I should add, are hilarious. I have never laughed so much at a play as I did at this one. Even though I do not understand every phrase, I find this far more enjoyable than English TV comedies. It is still, after so many years, English drama at its very best.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    This edition shamefully omits the u in "Labour's." Anyway, this is my favorite Shakespeare play, for two reasons: one, it's basically one huge unbelievably well-read reminder to get out and enjoy life more, and two, it's pinched into two tonally distinct parts. The beginning involves a young king who makes an agreement with his friends that they all need to dedicate themselves to their studies, and that they will live a perfectly ascetic and chaste life until they've earned their degrees or some This edition shamefully omits the u in "Labour's." Anyway, this is my favorite Shakespeare play, for two reasons: one, it's basically one huge unbelievably well-read reminder to get out and enjoy life more, and two, it's pinched into two tonally distinct parts. The beginning involves a young king who makes an agreement with his friends that they all need to dedicate themselves to their studies, and that they will live a perfectly ascetic and chaste life until they've earned their degrees or something. Naturally, a princess and her entourage visit and muck everything up. The wager involves a good deal of witty repartee; my favorite line: "These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights/that give a name to every fixed star/have no more profit of their shining nights/than those that walk and wot not what they are." Shakespeare even pokes fun at the king's posturing; two characters remark: "How well he's read, to reason against reading!" "Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!" The King's is a disingenuous argument, to be sure - this is a play that contains a thirteen-syllable Latin neologism, honorificabilitudinitatibus, which I suspect has never been used since to mean what it says. In the end the King breaks his promise using the excuse that a meeting with the princess is less of a search for nookie than an affair of state, but the play ends when the princess finds out her father has died, prompting a couple of solemn soliliquies, and also the suggestion that happenstance doesn't care whether we devote ourselves to abstemiousness or self-indulgence. There are certainly characters in the play who enjoy both. Overall, though, LLL's full of joie de vivre and wit. It's not the easiest to follow all the time, but I think it's sadly underrated.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maan Kawas

    I enjoyed this play by Shakespeare very much; however, I found it a bit different from his other plays! The oath, study, abstinence from women and intercourse reminded me of the Pythagorean and Orphic cults. It addresses various themes and points, such as commitment, human nature, identity, and appearance vs. reality.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lise

    honestly, it's not often i literally laugh out loud reading (/reading/, not watching a performance of) shakespeare. such wit! such wordplay! such silliness! much fun, little plot, i'm in love with all the ladies and the men are fools. i live for the mockery.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Pistelli

    This early Shakespearean comedy, dating from the 1590s, is paradoxically slight but weighty, thin but dense. That's no doubt partially owing to the lavish verbal resources it spends on such a simple plot. The story it tells is this: the King of Navarre invites three fellows to pledge to live in monkish isolation for three years. They will avoid all worldliness (to include any contact with women) and devote themselves to study. Almost immediately after they swear this vow, however, the Princess o This early Shakespearean comedy, dating from the 1590s, is paradoxically slight but weighty, thin but dense. That's no doubt partially owing to the lavish verbal resources it spends on such a simple plot. The story it tells is this: the King of Navarre invites three fellows to pledge to live in monkish isolation for three years. They will avoid all worldliness (to include any contact with women) and devote themselves to study. Almost immediately after they swear this vow, however, the Princess of France arrives on a diplomatic mission with three other young women in her train, and the four men and four women fall in love. Shakespeare considerably complicates this basic story—with comic side characters who steal the show and with the ritualistic maskings and unmaskings by which the men of Navarre and the women of France enact their courtship—but it remains, as a drama, so simple as to feel elemental. If G. Wilson Knight found in Shakespeare's late play, Timon of Athens , “the archetype and norm of all tragedy,” then the early Love's Labour's Lost (hereafter LLL) gives us the archetype and norm of comedy. This Signet Classics edition accordingly prints archetypal critic Northrop Frye's essay on Shakespearean comedy in the back of the book. Frye doesn't discuss this particular play very extensively—he writes only one sentence about it—but he argues that Shakespeare's comic drama revises prior forms to gives us an artistic recreation of an ancient ritual: We may call this the drama of the green world, and its theme is once again the triumph of life over the waste land, the death and revival of the year impersonated by figures still human, and once divine as well. Because the King has vowed to keep women from his court, he receives the Princess and her ladies at a park away from the castle. "The roof of this court is too high to be yours," the Princess dryly comments, "and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine." In other words, the men literally go to a green world where they are transfigured from ascetics to lovers. Given this narrative, the play's moral is clear enough: abstraction without affect, mentation without sensation, soul without body, will not be generative. Mind must submit itself to world, man must submit himself to woman, to achieve completeness—and the female characters dominate the play, while the men seriocomically lament their enslavement to Eros. The ritual Frye describes as the radical of comedy here serves Shakespeare's polemical end: he upbraids intellectual puritanism, confronting it with intellect's need to marry (literally) the world from which it wrongly wishes to escape if it wants to produce fruit: Never durst poet touch a pen to write Until his ink were temp'red with Love's sighs. O, then his lines would ravish savage ears And plant in tyrants mild humility. From women's eyes this doctrine I derive. They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain, and nourish all the world; Else none at all in ought proves excellent. Perhaps Shakespeare even means to chasten intellectual misogyny, since "the world" in this play is figured not only as female (à la Eve, standing for temptation) but as individual female characters who are themselves consummately intelligent, more so than their male counterparts whom they trick and chide. At the level of archetypal narrative, the above perhaps exhausts the play's meaning; but it doesn't quite account for LLL's most noticeable quality: its linguistic extravagance ("Honorificabilitudinitatibus"). In one of its more famous lines, famous because it metatheatrically describes the verbal texture of the drama itself, a character observes, "They have been at a great feast of languages and have stol'n the scraps." Two minor characters, the "fantastical Spaniard" Don Armado and the pedagogue Holofernes, are intoxicated with their own capacity for verbal exuberance (and they predictably hate each other). Don Armado recapitulates the overall narrative in a more lowly comic register, falling in love with and even impregnating Jacquenetta, labeled "a country wench" in the dramatis personae, thus below his station. Here again, and on a social as well as metaphysical level, Eros brings humility to proud men. Shakespeare's satire on his linguistic pretentiousness likewise humbles Don Armado, as when he writes a love letter to Jacquenetta: By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible; true, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal! The magnanimous and most illustrate king Cophetua set eye upon the pernicious and indubitate beggar Zenelophon; and he it was that might rightly say, Veni, vidi, vici; which to annothanize in the vulgar,—O base and obscure vulgar!—videlicet, He came, saw, and overcame... And so on, in the same arrogant, logorrheic style. Armado's pretenses are often punctured by the wordplay of his servant, Moth, and learning is mocked in its absence through the characters of the clown Costard and the constable Anthony Dull, whose malapropisms offer inadvertent paronomasia. All the main characters, though, are full of verbal wit, often expressing itself either as bawdry— Costard. She's too hard for you at pricks, sir. Challenge her to bowl. Boyet. I fear too much rubbing. Good night, my good owl. —or, more impressively, as brain-twisting paradoxes that anticipate the 17th century's metaphysical poetry— Why, all delights are vain, but that most vain Which, with pain purchased, doth inherit pain: As, painfully to pore upon a book, To seek the light of truth, while truth the while Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look. Light seeking light doth light of light beguile; So, ere you find where light in darkness lies Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes. The above lines are said by the play's protagonist, if it can be said to have one, Berowne, described by another character as "the merry madcap lord: Not a word with him but a jest." Berowne is the only strongly individuated figure among the major characters, and he speaks much of the play's most consequential poetry. He understands from the beginning that the King's monastic plan for intellectual retreat is flawed, as in the above lines, which elaborate on the paradox that too much reading will make you go blind: or, by metaphorical application, that they only way to preserve the intellect is to get out of the study. This "madcap lord" is a comic premonition of Hamlet, saved from tragedy by his capacity to love. His frequent recourse to metaphors of sight and light (as in the above quotation about the "Promethean fire" in "women's eyes") offer a modified Platonism wherein we encounter the radiance of truth through erotic passion. Here, the eye as the chief sexual organ. Another essay reprinted in the back of this Signet Classics edition is an appreciation of LLL by the late-Victorian aesthete Walter Pater. Aesthetes are drawn to the minor works of even major authors, since minor works' circumscription allows for perfection of a kind (we last saw Pater admiring another early, minor Shakespeare play, the tragic history Richard II ), whereas world-changing, world-making masterpieces almost always need the fuel of sheer bad taste (sentimentality, sloppiness, vulgarity, propaganda) if they are to storm the heavens. But Pater also praises this play's minority for giving Shakespeare a chance to portray himself: As happens with every true dramatist, Shakespeare is for the most part hidden behind the persons of his creation. Yet there are certain of his characters in which we feel that there is something of self-portraiture. And it is not so much in his grander, more subtle and ingenious creations that we feel this—in Hamlet and King Lear—as in those slighter and more spontaneously developed figures, who, while far from playing principal parts, are yet distinguished by a peculiar happiness and delicate ease in the drawing of them; figures which possess, above all, that winning attractiveness which there is no man but would willingly exercise, and which resemble those works of art which, though not meant to be very great or imposing, are yet wrought of the choicest material. [...] Biron [Berowne], in Love's Labour's Lost, is perhaps the most striking member of this group. In this character, which is never quite in touch, never quite on a perfect level of understanding, with the other persons of the play, we see, perhaps, a reflex of Shakespeare himself, when he has just become able to stand aside from and estimate the first period of his poetry. This observation explains LLL's besottedness with language as well as its satire of language. As Pater notes, Berowne well understands that extravagant language can mislead; Shakespeare is here as ever concerned with appearance vs. reality, not only because his lovers go masked, but because words themselves can mask, can create a false veneer on things of authentic value: O, never will I trust to speeches penned, Nor to the motion of a schoolboy's tongue, Nor never come in vizard to my friend, Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper's song! Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise, Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation, Figures pedantical—these summer flies Have blown me full of maggot ostentation. I do forswear them; and I here protest, By this white glove (how white the hand, God knows!) Henceforth my wooing mind shall be expressed In russet yeas and honest kersey noes... Yet he has no other way of telling us about the treachery of words but in words, which, whether simple or complex, are not the world. In this play especially, russet and kersey are much less in evidence than taffeta and silk, even if Shakespeare only dresses his characters in the latter so that we'll laugh at their gaudy pretense. In Pater's view, then, Shakespeare is portraying through Berowne both his love for language and his mistrust of it, just as the drama at large enacts a chastening of the arrogant intellect. The green world of language is poetry, where words go less to be honest than to admit they are not: a field of pure play or, as the heroine Rosaline puts it, "gravity's revolt to wantonness." And just as in Hamlet, where Shakespeare puts a perfectly good definition of poetry in the mouth of a fool (i.e., Polonius's "by indirections find directions out"), so here he has the pedantic pedagogue Holofernes praise poetry for its "odouriferous flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention"—jerks that this esoteric ritual of mind's wedding to world reveals as the very motions of love.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben Goodridge

    See, now, when I talk about how teachers give short shrift to Shakespearian plays that might actually resonate with students in favor of overrated dirges like Hamlet, this is what I'm talking about. The plot's easy enough to follow. Four students, one of them the King of Navarre, have forsworn women to devote themselves to three years of academic study. The oath lasts exactly as long as it takes for the Princess of France and her royal court to show up and prove themselves as clever, witty, and i See, now, when I talk about how teachers give short shrift to Shakespearian plays that might actually resonate with students in favor of overrated dirges like Hamlet, this is what I'm talking about. The plot's easy enough to follow. Four students, one of them the King of Navarre, have forsworn women to devote themselves to three years of academic study. The oath lasts exactly as long as it takes for the Princess of France and her royal court to show up and prove themselves as clever, witty, and intelligent as them. Hijinks, as they say, ensue. The fifth act has a definite whiff of padding about it; Wiki notes that this play has the longest speech of any Shakespeare play, as well as the longest act (V.ii), and even includes the longest word, 'honorificabilitudinitatibus,' which translates from Latin to "I hate the actor who plays Costard and am going to force him to say this word." Since it's all fun-n-games, Shakespeare has to give the cast the chance to prove that these fledgling relationships aren't just weekend flings, and introduces a serious note in the last bit. Call it a sequel hook for "Love's Labor's Won." I'm still behind on my reading list, so I'm still reaching for thin things. You think you got it bad? I've had "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" by Cole Porter running through my head for three days.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Alan

    As love is full of unbefitting strains, All wanton as a child, skipping and vain, Formed by the eye and therefore, like the eye, Full of strange shapes, of habits, and of forms, Varying in subjects as the eye doth roll To every varied object in his glance;

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Another play that feels like a transition play. Really, this is slightly more than 3.5 stars, but not quite 4 stars, because while it's a huge improvement on A Comedy of Errors, it still feels like there's something missing. However, the plot is great: simple, ripe for comedy misunderstanding and pricking of pomposity. The earnest young men in the court of Navarre decide to hide away for 3 years to study philosophy: not drink, fasting, meditation, endless study and debate and above all ... no co Another play that feels like a transition play. Really, this is slightly more than 3.5 stars, but not quite 4 stars, because while it's a huge improvement on A Comedy of Errors, it still feels like there's something missing. However, the plot is great: simple, ripe for comedy misunderstanding and pricking of pomposity. The earnest young men in the court of Navarre decide to hide away for 3 years to study philosophy: not drink, fasting, meditation, endless study and debate and above all ... no contact with women. Of course, straight away this is doomed to failure because a beautiful French princess and her witty, pretty and feisty ladies are coming to visit. And so begins a wonderful play. The highlight of which is a wonderfully daring comic sequence of each lovelorn foresworn lord entering the same glade bemoaning their loss of oath and potential loss of face before the others, then hiding and hearing the next do the same - then each pops out to berate the previous one. It's a great scene. It's the only play in which Shakespeare uses the word "honorificabilitudinitas", which is apparently the longest word in the English language with alternating consonants and vowels :) The issues I had with it were, however, that plot B - holofernes, Costard, and a spanish nobleman simply doesn't seem to fit - they appear to be hanging around the court for no reason at all. Also, the word play gets out of hand on occasions. The ending is a brave one, we're all set to expect the standard multiple marriages and joy will reign when we get news of the princess's father's death and Love's Labour's truly Lost (or for 12 months mourning anyway). But Berowne's (Biron in my ebook version) speech after all four have been exposed as breaking their oaths, on how love should never be foresworn because it's so vital to life, is a wondrous piece of writing: But love, first learned in a lady's eyes, Lives not alone immured in the brain; But, with the motion of all elements, Courses as swift as thought in every power, And gives to every power a double power, Above their functions and their offices. It adds a precious seeing to the eye; A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind; A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound, When the suspicious head of theft is stopp'd: Love's feeling is more soft and sensible Than are the tender horns of cockl'd snails; Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste: For valour, is not Love a Hercules, Still climbing trees in the Hesperides? Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair: And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony. Never durst poet touch a pen to write Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs; O, then his lines would ravish savage ears And plant in tyrants mild humility. From women's eyes this doctrine I derive: They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academes, That show, contain and nourish all the world: Else none at all in ought proves excellent. Then fools you were these women to forswear, Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools. For wisdom's sake, a word that all men love, Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men, Or for men's sake, the authors of these women, Or women's sake, by whom we men are men, Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves, Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.

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