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Measure for Measure

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-03-29
  • Publisher: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.

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Supplemental Materials

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George Lyman Kittredge's insightful editions of Shakespeare have endured in part because of his eclecticism, his diversity of interests, and his wide-ranging accomplishments, all of which are reflected in the valuable notes in each volume. These new editions have specific emphasis on the performance histories of the plays (on stage and screen). Features of each edition include: The original introduction to the Kittredge Edition Editor's Introduction to the Focus Edition. An overview on major themes of the plays, and sections on the play's performance history on stage and screen. Explanatory Notes. The explanatory notes either expand on Kittredge's superb glosses, or, in the case of plays for which he did not write notes, give the needed explanations for Shakespeare's sometimes demanding language. Performance notes. These appear separately and immediately below the textual footnotes and include discussions of noteworthy stagings of the plays, issues of interpretation, and film and stage choices. How to read the play as Performance Section. A discussion of the written play vs. the play as performed and the various ways in which Shakespeare's words allow the reader to envision the work "off the page." Comprehensive Timeline. Covering major historical events (with brief annotations) as well as relevant details from Shakespeare's life. Some of the Chronologies include time chronologies within the plays. Topics for Discussion and Further Study Section. Critical Issues: Dealing with the text in a larger context and considerations of character, genre, language, and interpretative problems. Performance Issues: Problems and intricacies of staging the play connected to chief issues discussed in the Focus Editions' Introduction. Select Bibliography & Filmography Each New Kittredge edition also includes film stills from major productions, for comparison and scene study.

Author Biography

Laury Magnus is Professor of Humanities at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. She is editor of New Kittredge editions of The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, and co-editor of Romeo and Juliet. She is co-editor of \u201cWho Hears in Shakespeare? Stage and Screen\u201d (forthcoming, FDU Press). Her books include a study of poetic repetition in early twentieth-century British and American poetry and a co-translation and introduction to Ivan Goncharov\u2019s nineteenth-century Russian novel, The Precipice. Her articles have appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, Assays, Language and Style, and, on Shakespeare, in Literature/Film Quarterly, Connotations, and College Literature. She is also a frequent contributor to The Shakespeare Newsletter and an Associate Member of the Columbia Shakespeare Seminar. Bernice W. Kliman (1933–2011) was the editor of The Enfolded Hamlets, and co-editor of The Three-Text Hamlet and of Focus (New Kittredge) editions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Measure for Measure. In addition to books and articles on performance history, she published numerous notes and essays about the early history of editing. She was the coordinating editor of hamletworks.org.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Kittredge Edition Introduction to the Focus Edition Measure for Measure How to Read Measure for Measure as Performance Timeline Topics for Discussion and Further Study Bibliography Filmography

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Introduction to the Kittredge Edition

Dating the Play
Measure for Measure appears to have been presented at court by Shakespeare’s company on St. Stephen’s night (December 26), 1604. Probably it was a new play, for it accords in style and temper with Shakespeare’s other work at about this time. At all events, 1604 is a reasonable date for its composition. Our only authority for the text is the First Folio, which must have been set up2 from a rather confused copy, certainly not from an autograph manuscript.

Possible Changes in the Play as Shakespeare Wrote It
Here and there one may detect possible cuts in the Folio text, but there is no good reason for ascribing any part of the play to another hand than Shakespeare’s, except, perhaps, the Duke’s rhyming speech at the end of Act 3, and this hardly deserves the harsh language which some critics have bestowed upon it. As marking the interval between two strongly contrasted scenes and introducing, prologue-like, the Mariana subplot, this moralizing chorus is neither out of place nor structurally inappropriate.It emphasizes the principle of “measure for measure” and at the end, justifies (to the audience) the Duke’s use of “craft against vice”; it also sums up his plan.

Sources and Analogues
The plot of Measure for Measure is mainly derived from George Whetstone’s two-part English play Promos and Cassandra, published in 1578, which, in turn, is founded on the fifth novel in the eighth decade of the Hecatommithi by the Italian author Giovanni Battista Giraldi (surnamed Cinthio or Cintio), first printed in 1565. Whetstone cannot have known Cinthio’s Epitia, a tragicomedy on the same theme as the novel. He remarks that he “divided the whole history into two Comedies because, it could not be conveyed in one.” He repeated his plot, as a narrative, in a storybook entitled An Heptameron of Civill Discourses (1582), noting incidentally that his play had never been acted. The substance of the tale existed in several variants before Cinthio wrote and was reported in 1547 as a recent actual current event.

But Shakespeare changed the story significantly. In Cinthio’s novel, Juriste the Governor (Shakespeare’s Angelo) promises Epitia (Shakespeare’s Isabella) to release her brother, who is under sentence of death, and assures her of his own hand in marriage, though without a definite promise. On these terms she yields. Juriste has the brother beheaded and sends the body to her, with the head at its feet. In Cinthio’s drama, however, as in Shakespeare’s plot, the keeper of the prison, without the Governor’s knowledge, substitutes a condemned criminal for the brother; and this important modification of the plot is also made by Whetstone. In both Cinthio and Whetstone the Sovereign decrees that the Governor shall marry the heroine and then shall be executed, but after the marriage, he spares the deputy’s life at Epitia’s entreaty. Neither Cinthio nor Whetstone has any character that corresponds to Mariana. By bringing her into the story, Shakespeare has transformed the plot and rescued Isabella from a really intolerable situation. She does not yield to Angelo, and it is the new character, Mariana, whom he must marry. Thus Isabella’s honor is preserved, and she is relieved of the necessity of marrying her worst enemy. The concluding speech shows that the Duke means to reward her with his own hand, if she is willing. This arrangement, which comes as something of a shock to modern readers, was doubtless quite acceptable to the Elizabethans, always eager for Jack to have his Jill. We may infer that Isabella gives up her purpose of becoming a votaress of Saint Clare (as seen in 1.4), but this is not stated, and the conclusion of the play leaves the audience guessing— as was doubtless Shakespeare’s intent.

In Promos and Cassandra Whetstone has sought to enliven the scene and make a strange plot more real by bringing in several low comedy subplots that illustrate the corruption of society in the city over which Promos rules. One of the low characters, Rosko, foreshadows Pompey in Measure for Measure. The role of the Duke is much enlarged in Shakespeare. In Whetstone and Cinthio the sovereign (in Whetstone, the King; in Cinthio, the Emperor) is active only at the outset (to appoint and instruct the Governor) and at the end (to pass judgment). In Measure for Measure he keeps constant watch over Angelo’s proceedings, prevents the execution of Claudio, and arranges the solution of all the problems in advance.

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