The Oxford Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

William Shakespeare
Edited by Roger Warren
Published by Oxford University Press

A comic masterpiece featuring a lovesick nobleman, a maiden in disguise and an extraordinary love triangle. No one in this play is truly insane, but accusations of madness abound as the confusion unfolds. Published by Oxford University Press.

In Tudor times, twelfth night was the feast of 'misrule' marking the end of Christmas festivities, where the natural order was often turned topsy-turvy. Shakespeare's plot includes a servant seeking to marry his mistress, women dressed as men and attendant confusions and mistakes; all favourite examples that hark all the way back to the Roman feast of Saturnalia.

Shakespeare may well have written the play for a court entertainment performed in 1601 (finding his Duke's name from the Duke Orsini who had visited court that year). Many commentators believe that his portrait of the kill-joy Malvolio was intended to poke fun at the Puritans who disapproved of twelfth night festivities and, of course, of the theatre itself. Set against Malvolio are the excesses of Sir Toby Belch, and yet his drunkenness is sympathetically viewed: 'Dost think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?'

From the witty banter of Sir Toby and Maria, the wry commentary of Feste and the foolishness of Sir Andrew to the emotionally charged moment of the discovery of the twins, this is a play whose rangeand humour have delighted audiences for centuries and which remains irresistibly fresh today.

256 pages
Printed on Caxton Wove Off-White paper
Bound in buckram with a printed paper label
Coloured endpapers
Spine blocked in gold
Head and tail bands
8¾” x 5½”
Published by Oxford University Press

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