All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well

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All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well

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Excerpt

The First Editions. All's Well that Ends Well appeared for the first time in the First Folio. It is certain that no earlier edition existed; the play was mentioned in the Stationers' Register under Nov. 8th, 1623, among the plays not previously entered. The text of the first edition is corrupt in many places, and gives the impression of having been carelessly printed from an imperfectly revised copy. There is no record of the performance of All's Well that Ends Well during Shakespeare's lifetime; the earliest theatrical notices belong to the middle of the eighteenth century.

The Date of Composition. The remarkable incongruity of style characteristic of All's Well that Ends Well--the striking contrast of mature and early work-- can only be accounted for by regarding the play as a recast of an earlier version of the comedy. Rhyming lines, the sonnet-like letters, the lyrical dialogues and speeches, remind the reader of such a play as Love's Labour's Lost. The following passages have not inaptly been described as 'boulders from the old strata embedded in the later deposits':--Act I. i. 226-239; I. iii. 133-141; II. i. 132-213; II. iii. 73-105, 127-146; III. iv. 4-17; IV. iii. 237-245; V. iii. 60-72, 322-337.

It seems very probable, almost certain, that the play is a revision of 'Love's Labours Wonne,' mentioned by Meres in his Palladis Tamia (1598). Love's Labours Wonne' has been variously identified by scholars with . . .

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