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The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2006
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About the Author
William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.
Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare’s Romances and of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and their editing.
Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King’s University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare’s plays.
Top Customer Reviews
March 20, 2006. The Acting Company of New York is returning to our town---the touring repertory featuring talented young actors and artists that performs each year in over 50 cities of America. The Company is presenting this year a classical production of Shakespeare's THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
The distinguished actor, John Houseman, founded the Company in 1972 along with the current Producing Director Margot Harley and members of the first graduation class of Julliard's Drama Division. Their season performance of Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be at the Newberry Opera House on March 22 at 8pm. It is their only performance of the play in South Carolina.
If ever a Shakespeare play needed to be seen rather than read, it is this play, declared Helen Garlington at the local library's monthly book discussion several weeks ago. Garlington, a local thespian, had seen Two Gents at Stratford on her last trip to London and peppered her talk with readings, stage drawings, and reminisces.
The play is a comedy of manners about two young lads from Verona who are sent to Milan to a sort of male finishing school. They will learn to be "perfect" gentlemen, to practice in "tilts and tournaments," and to make proper (male) conversation. It's the first journey away from home for both Valentine and Proteus, who are longtime friends. Both behave badly in ways that get them in terrible trouble.
Naturally, each lad is accompanied by a servant. Speed is as bright as Valentine is dim. Lance is as loving and compassionate as Proteus is callous. The funniest scene in the play occurs in Act Two when Lance plays out his farewell scene to his family using his left and right shoes, his walking staff, and his dog Crab.
And, of course, each lad has a girlfriend. Valentine falls for the Duke's daughter Sylvia at the Emperor's court in Milan. Proteus exchanges rings with Julia before he leaves for Milan. And Julia follows him disguised as a page becoming the first cross-dressing heroine in Shakespeare's writing career.
The Two Gentlemen from Verona is an early Shakespeare play appearing in the First Folio in 1623. The final scene in the play has confounded modern critics and may be a reason for the play's unpopularity. In 1921 an Edwardian critic noted, "there are, at this time, no gentlemen in Verona." Another critic surmised that the play is Shakespeare's parody of literature in which friendship is portrayed as greater than love. Others suggest that a collaborator or two revised the final scene and pasted in another version.
To quote the Bard, this critic, soon to be a viewer, believes that "all's well that ends well."
(To read this play and write this preview, I exclusively used THE NEW FOLGER LIBRARY edition. In addition to the play, the Folger edition contains longer notes, textual notes, a suggested Further Reading, and an essay titled A Modern Perspective which add to the reader's enjoyment and provided truth and trivia for this review.)
Two Gentlemen of Verona is an early Shakespeare "comedy". This is not necessarily a comedy as we now understand it. Personally, Shakespeare always makes me cringe in every so called comedy that I have ever read and watched. This play is no exception. Simply read in a vacuum I don't find this play anything special. As an early play it does not reflect the magestic style of later works. Also, I also always feel the need to make allowances for the different times when these plays were written. By current standards, these plays are often misogynistic and laced with other cultural biases.
Shakespeare is a central figure in Western Literature. As such, he bears study. For me, Shakespeare was and is not always an easy read. Therefore I have found that studying his early works with proper study aides greatly enhances the experience of understanding Shakesepare. There are ideas and themes which show up in this play that Shakespeare developes in future plays. Females dressing as males, intrique between friends, misunderstandings, all can be found in future comedies.
In summary, I feel the greatest value in reading and studying this play is for the purposes of comparing and contrasting to his later works. Thank You...
Gentlemen is a wonderful way for anyone to get initially acquainted with Shakespeare and for those who know him well to admire him all the more. Finally, this edition contains several helpful articles and a good translation of words that are not understandable by modern readers.
Using it for my AP lit.