Critically acclaimed as one of Shakespeare's most complex and intriguing plays, Twelfth Night is a classic romantic comedy of mistaken identities. In recent years it has returned to the center of critical debate surrounding gender and sexuality. The introduction explores the multiple factors that make up the play's rich textual, theatrical, critical, and cultural history. Keir Elam surveys the play's production and reception, emphasizing the role of the spectator both within the comedy and the playhouse. He also discusses the themes of perspective and interpreting visual images, theatric and film adaptations of the play, and Twelfth Night's comedic elements, and provides individual analyses of Malvolio, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste, Orsino, Olivia, and Viola. Editorial craft, casting and the use of music are addressed in the appendices, which also include a list of abbreviations and references, a catalog of Shakespeare’s works and works partly by Shakespeare, and citations for the modern productions mentioned in the text, other collated editions of Twelfth Night, and other related reading.
The Arden Shakespeare has developed a reputation as the pre-eminent critical edition of Shakespeare for its exceptional scholarship, reflected in the thoroughness of each volume. An introduction comprehensively contextualizes the play, chronicling the history and culture that surrounded and influenced Shakespeare at the time of its writing and performance, and closely surveying critical approaches to the work. Detailed appendices address problems like dating and casting, and analyze the differing Quarto and Folio sources. A full commentary by one or more of the play’s foremost contemporary scholars illuminates the text, glossing unfamiliar terms and drawing from an abundance of research and expertise to explain allusions and significant background information. Highly informative and accessible, Arden offers the fullest experience of Shakespeare available to a reader.