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Much Ado About Nothing (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 24 Apr 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Paperback, 24 Apr 1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (24 April 1997)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0140622527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140622522
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 0.6 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,921,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like Love's Labours Lost, Much Ado about Nothing shows Shakespeare moving into a more complex and darker terrain through his exploration of an apparently harmless comical romance. The play revolves around the adventures of the two gallants Claudio and Benedick at the court of Sicily. Claudio falls in love with the governor's daughter Hero, and is eager for his more misanthropic friend Benedick to also find love. Benedick is introduced to the fiery, independent Beatrice, and sparks soon fly as they banter with each other in a more wittier version of Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. Beatrice has some wonderful ripostes to marriage asking why should a woman marry "a clod of wayward marl", whilst Benedick grumbles that "She speaks poniards and every word stabs". Meanwhile, the jealous Don John convinces Claudio that Hero has in fact been unfaithful to him. When Claudio rejects Hero on their wedding day, she faints and is taken for dead. In the hectic final scenes the play moves towards reconciliation between Claudio and Hero, and the tentative admission of the love between Benedick and Beatrice. Famously filmed by Kenneth Branagh in the Tuscan countryside with a cast that included Keanu Reeves, Much Ado about Nothing remains one of Shakespeare's most successful comedies. --Jerry Brotton. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Zitner has written one of the finest introductions to the play that I have seen. I hope that between this edition and Branaugh's film we can make the play come alive to the present generation of students."--Ronald J. Boling, Lyon College"Handy, reliable, altogether excellent...with introductions that truly cover everything and notes that explain all that needs to be explained."--Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
By no means a well-known play compared to Shakespeare's tragedies, or even many of his history plays, "Much Ado About Nothing" remains a popular theatrical production, a play which offers dynamic, meaty parts and provides actors with challenging vehicles for the display of their talents. In a sense, it is a play driven by its players, its text bristling with wit and energy, its themes and concepts regularly re-interpreted and re-presented by the great actors and producers of succeeding ages.
"Much Ado" is a play about courtly society and its preoccupation with love and marriage, with 'form', and with the appropriateness of suitors and matches. Love is one thing, but marriage involves power, money, and property rights and succession. It's a play about rules - often unwritten, usually unspoken, but which are learned by social osmosis and which appear in the niceties of etiquette, manners, and social trivia, providing fragile bastions to status and breeding. Despite their apparently ephemeral nature, these are rules which are very real, and not without severe sanction.
But "Much Ado" is also a play about the breaking of rules, about their use and transformation, obeying, instead, the demands and commands of love. Much of the dynamic of the play lies in the contrast between the two couples, Beatrice & Benedick and Claudio and Hero. The former are the liberated archetypes, the latter a more classical pairing.
It's a play which has been repeatedly interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of changing social mores and tastes. Much of the difficulty in studying the play lies in teasing out Shakespeare's intent from the layers of meaning and interpretation with which it has been lacquered.
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Format: Paperback
In writing a review of this book, I will make a (possibly rather dangerous) assumption; namely, that you will already know the story of Othello and his awful downfall at the hands of the utterly unscrupulous Iago. If not, then I won't spoil the story, but will say that it is a remarkable and very moving tale indeed.

However, most people looking for a copy of the play are likely to be in the business of studying or performing it, so my review will focus on this particular edition's merits and drawbacks. Of the former there are a great many, and of the latter there are a few.

To start with the practicalities of the book, the layout follows the pattern of the Arden Shakespeare, with the text at the top of the page, below that alternative readings, and on the lower half or so, explanatory notes. This works very well for me, but some readers prefer to work with editions which have facing page annotations, so they might be advised to look elsewhere. Moreover, the book itself is very well made, printed on excellent paper and strongly bound, so if it will be in your company for some time, you won't suffer the annoyances of pages falling out. Lastly, it is clearly typeset in the distinctive font used by all Oxford editions (and is infinitely more legible than the Oxford edition of the collected plays and sonnets).

This edition was first published in 2006, so it is admirably up-to-date in scholarship and approach. Some Oxford editions (such as that of "Hamlet") are over twenty years old, and feel a little dated, but this is very fresh. The editor is Michael Neill, professor of English at Auckland, and he has done an outstanding job.
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Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
By no means a well-known play compared to Shakespeare's tragedies, or even many of his history plays, "Much Ado About Nothing" remains a popular theatrical production, a play which offers dynamic, meaty parts and provides actors with challenging vehicles for the display of their talents. In a sense, it is a play driven by its players, its text bristling with wit and energy, its themes and concepts regularly re-interpreted and re-presented by the great actors and producers of succeeding ages.
"Much Ado" is a play about courtly society and its preoccupation with love and marriage, with 'form', and with the appropriateness of suitors and matches. Love is one thing, but marriage involves power, money, and property rights and succession. It's a play about rules - often unwritten, usually unspoken, but which are learned by social osmosis and which appear in the niceties of etiquette, manners, and social trivia, providing fragile bastions to status and breeding. Despite their apparently ephemeral nature, these are rules which are very real, and not without severe sanction.
But "Much Ado" is also a play about the breaking of rules, about their use and transformation, obeying, instead, the demands and commands of love. Much of the dynamic of the play lies in the contrast between the two couples, Beatrice & Benedick and Claudio and Hero. The former are the liberated archetypes, the latter a more classical pairing.
It's a play which has been repeatedly interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of changing social mores and tastes. Much of the difficulty in studying the play lies in teasing out Shakespeare's intent from the layers of meaning and interpretation with which it has been lacquered.
Read more ›
Comment 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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