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When a new play was required at short notice for a court occasion in 1597, Shakespeare created The Merry Wives of Windsor, a warm-hearted and spirited "citizen comedy" filled with boisterous action, situational irony, rich characterization--and the likes of Falstaff, Pistol, Mistress Quickly, and Justice Shallow. In his introduction and commentary, Craik examines a wide range of topics, including the play's probable occasion, its relationship to Shakespeare's English history plays and to other sources, its textual history, with particular reference to the widely diverging 1623 Folio and 1602 Quarto, and its quality as drama. In light of various topical, critical, and theatrical interpretations of the play, Craik pays particular attention to defining the literal sense, proposing some new readings, and evoking the many aspects of the stage business.
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