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VINE VOICEon 21 August 2008
We might expect an academic who has made her name as a feminist critic to find something interesting to say about 'As You Like It'. Juliet Dusinberre doesn't disappoint. Although its aspects of performance history can be a little wearisome, her Introduction is richly rewarding. Not surprisingly, she makes much of the play's cross-dressing and role-playing (boy playing woman playing man etc.). She finds questions of gender much more ambiguous and complex than they first appear and presents an account of a play in which liberating modes of behaviour can be adopted as easily as costumes can be donned. It is a play which 'redefines gender'.

Equally subversive, she thinks, are the play's allusions to Robin Hood. Duke Senior's comradely courtiers are partners rather than subjects, and his court more communal than hierarchic. Together with the animal welfare concerns expressed in the play, the Duke's vegetarian tendencies (which echo the real-life courtier John Harington's) and Orlando's 'challenge to primogeniture' (it is he, after all, who inherits a dukedom), the 'alternative', revolutionary elements of AYL are neatly drawn attention to.

There are some inspired insights. Touchstone's 'dreadful joke', as Dusinberre calls it (about pancakes in 1.2), makes sense if the court performance at Richmond Palace took place on the Shrove Tuesday of 1599, as she thinks highly likely. She further suggests that some of the play's exotic features (like the lion in 3.2.) were matched by the elaborate wood carvings in Richmond's outer court, while Rosalind's reference to Troilus not dying for love might have been accompanied by a gesture to the tapestry depicting Troy hanging in Richmond's Great Hall where plays were performed. In essence, therefore, she sees the palace as the 'perfect ambience' for the play, with its sense of rural retreat and with deer roaming outside its west wall.

But Dusinberre is careful to present the Forest of Arden as more than just a fairy-tale rural retreat. It is a place that represents the challenge of the unfamiliar and of harsh political exile. It is also a place which reflects the real, contemporary world of displacement brought about by land enclosure and political instability (in the year of Essex's fateful Irish campaign).

The Introduction is also radical and illuminating in its discussion of Elizabethan play reading. Dusinberre argues that AYL is particularly rewarding as a text to be read at leisure and that its wordplay is often better appreciated on the page than on the stage. She argues that puns such as Touchstone's 'faining/feigning' 'could only be appreciated by readers'. Dusinberre examines a recent school of thought (led by Lukas Erne) inclining to the view that not only did the printed word add an extra witty dimension, but that Shakespeare actively took readers into account when writing plays.

The comprehensively researched Commentary is equally impressive. It bears testimony to the rich heritage of Shakespearean scholarship which has unearthed a staggering amount of detail about the halcyon period of English drama, 1590-1610. This edition will probably allow for as full an appreciation of the play as is currently possible.
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As You Like It has many qualities to attract readers and audiences. Rosalind is one of the great heroines of all romantic literature. The play has more outstanding speeches than almost any other that has ever been written. Astonishing plot complications are quickly resolved in the simplest possible way, reflecting a playwright's tour de force. The Forest of Arden appears as a character in creating a magical atmosphere whereby all perceptions change, and all are healed. Right wins out, especially in drawing on good character . . . even from formerly badly behaving people. And for those who love marriages, this book has one of the most impressive ceremonies of all time in literature. Humans have never looked nobler in the end than in this play. Yet the play also abounds with some of the greatest lines of Shakespeare's fools that cause all of us to see that humility is more called for than pride or ambition. Certainly, As You Like It will make you feel the presence of an unmatched genius, that should inspire even the most arrogant to feel humbled in the Bard's presence.
My recommendation is that you first see a performance (whether in person, or on a recording). If that's not possible, try for an audio. Many outstanding actors have been taped. After you have the sights and sounds of the play firmly in mind, then read the play. You'll find that your earlier experiences will unlock more of the play's depths, imagery and pleasures for you.
Where in life is being true to your word very important? How can you improve your life by being more reliable in this way?
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on 30 September 2008
i'm not going to review the actual play as this was done very well by another reviewer, however when wishing to purchase this play you may realise their are loads of different editions to choose from, and you may be wondering 'is this edition right for you?'

This really breaks down the text by having the play on every right-hand page and on the left has a short description of what is happening on the page opposite as well as a glossary of some of the page's most challenging words and phrases, just like in the heinemann shakespeare. This is what attracted me to this edition, however i found myself just slightly disappointed.

As well as the description and glossary on the left-hand page there are various exercises for you to do either alone or in groups that will help drama students to understand the text and the context in which it should be played. These exercises looked very helpful to those studying drama, even including photos from past productions. However as i was doing this play for english i would have liked a little more indepth insight to the actual text.

At the end, after the play there are analysis of the characters and setting as well as some on the context of the play which ive just started reading and have found very helpful, as well as more information on staging 'as you like it'. This is all great, i would just have liked a little more specific insight during the reading of the play.

in short, this edition is ideal for anyone practicing drama, and while it is more than adequate an edition for anyone who needs a little help while reading the text, it lacks a little for those wishing for a more indepth insight.
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In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 15 May 2006
i could not imagine a more foolish and silly afternoon in a forest. lol. i loved this so much it has everything anyone ever wanted of shakespear!

what a fantastic play i really want to see it but i fear it could never live up to my reading of it. i wish it were translated into modern language for all the people who have trouble understanding it.

well i loved it anyway. should be read under the trees on a sunny afternoon.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
As You Like It has many qualities to attract readers and audiences. Rosalind is one of the great heroines of all romantic literature. The play has more outstanding speeches than almost any other that has ever been written. Astonishing plot complications are quickly resolved in the simplest possible way, reflecting a playwright's tour de force. The Forest of Arden appears as a character in creating a magical atmosphere whereby all perceptions change, and all are healed. Right wins out, especially in drawing on good character . . . even from formerly badly behaving people. And for those who love marriages, this book has one of the most impressive ceremonies of all time in literature. Humans have never looked nobler in the end than in this play. Yet the play also abounds with some of the greatest lines of Shakespeare's fools that cause all of us to see that humility is more called for than pride or ambition. Certainly, As You Like It will make you feel the presence of an unmatched genius, that should inspire even the most arrogant to feel humbled in the Bard's presence.

My recommendation is that you first see a performance (whether in person, or on a recording). If that's not possible, try for an audio. Many outstanding actors have been taped. After you have the sights and sounds of the play firmly in mind, then read the play. You'll find that your earlier experiences will unlock more of the play's depths, imagery and pleasures for you.
Where in life is being true to your word very important? How can you improve your life by being more reliable in this way?
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on 15 February 2012
i bought this penguin edition for my english A-Level. It had notes in the back of it and explained words that we may not understand. it went a long way in helping me write a good essay for my a-level and i would recommend it, even if you're just reading it for yourself and not studying it like i did. ... holly-ann
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
As You Like It has many qualities to attract readers and audiences. Rosalind is one of the great heroines of all romantic literature. The play has more outstanding speeches than almost any other that has ever been written. Astonishing plot complications are quickly resolved in the simplest possible way, reflecting a playwright's tour de force. The Forest of Arden appears almost as a character of its own in creating a magical atmosphere whereby all perceptions change, and all are healed. Right wins out, especially in drawing on good character . . . even from formerly badly behaving people. And for those who love marriages, this book has one of the most impressive ceremonies of all time in literature. Humans have never looked nobler in the end than in this play. Yet the play also abounds with some of the greatest lines of Shakespeare's fools that cause all of us to see that humility is more called for than pride or ambition. Certainly, As You Like It will make you feel the presence of an unmatched genius, that should inspire even the most arrogant to feel humbled in the Bard's presence.
My recommendation is that you first see a performance (whether in person, or on a recording). If that's not possible, try for an audio. Many outstanding actors have been taped. After you have the sights and sounds of the play firmly in mind, then read the play. You'll find that your earlier experiences will unlock more of the play's depths, imagery and pleasures for you.
Where in life is being true to your word very important? How can you improve your life by being more reliable in this way?
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on 5 July 2013
I purchased this I think 2 years back.
I've just had a look at the website now: the cover has not changed - it still implies a book worth (£2) whereas what I received was the other, later £1 variety Popular Penguin Classic book edition. Considering I paid considerably more than £1 for the book at the time, I still feel slightly cheated out of the whole experience.
There now appears to be a smaller picture which shows what I received, which at least is an improvement but, surely - these are 2 different books/editions?

Why the fuss? I'm a great fan of the Penguin Classics and for sheer value for money would highly recommend them.
However different editions can make a difference: a cheaper edition may not have an introduction, or have one as good as a slightly more expensive edition. The quality of the paper/printing may not be as good. This may not matter much to some people but in this case: (this is Shakespeare text after all!) a good intro, or presentation of the text can enhance/help in one's reading of the contents. It can make or break one's love for Shakespeare!
I was willing to take a risk in seeing what the weightier-looking book 'in green' had to offer - so imagine my disappointment when I received the cheaper version instead.

Anyway - presentation aside, the story itself is fine and worth much more a read or two...
It's a 'quieter', more contemplative Shakespeare play (say, compared to Midsummer Night's Dream) but the appreciation grows the more it's read (preferably out loud). A deeper 'Pastoral' in that respect. It has probably one of the best developed/emotionally intelligent Shakespeare females you'll come across, in Rosalind) and it contains some of THE most famous song-like speeches that we know, so it may not initially make as much an impact as the other Shakespeare comedies but grab a guitar and SING this around the camp fire a few times and it'll soon become clear why it could become a favourite.
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on 23 September 2010
This book is priceless to anyone going to see a Shakespeare performance for the first time or for those that are studying Shakespeare at school.

I bought tickets to see 'As You Like It' and having never been to see a Shakespeare performance thought that I might get a bit lost in the dialogue between the characters. Just before going to see the play I read the first section of the book that explains about the characters and the plot. I still got lost in the dialogue slightly but didn't struggle half as much as I would have if I hadn't read this first. I couldn't wait to get home to read the actual play itself!
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