Dr Johnson believed that Shakespeare was at his best in 'comic scenes', but it is a long time since anyone explained convincingly what in the plays was intended to make us smile or laugh. This book serves to remedy that situation by concentrating mainly, but by no means exclusively, on the seismic shift in the development of Shakespeare's writing which took place after Will Kemp was replaced by Robert Armin as his theatre company's professional clown. Without disdaining help from both old and recent theorists of comedy, this new book is written in a jargon-free prose accessible to all those who, academic or otherwise, are interested in Shakespeare's plays. It challenges the age-old distinctions between high and low in comedy, and tracks Shakespeare through to the time when he was no longer finding the world so funny.
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