Love’s Labours Lost

No written source for the plot has been found for Love’s Labours Lost only the influence of the Italian Commedia dell’arte. Presumably written between 1593-94 but was entered into the Stationer’s Office in 22nd of January 1607 and further editions in 1598 (Q1) and 1623 (F1). Charlton Ogburn suggests that the “Masque of Amazones and Knights” was an early version of this play performed at court in January 1579 and written by Edward de Vere. This play might have been revised soon after the Earl of Oxford had been wounded in the leg by Sir Thomas Knyvett and was named in a dedication by Thomas Watson in his “Hekatompathia” (published 1582). According to Dowden and Charlton Ogburn the play was written late 1590 when the Earl of Oxford’s acting company was disbanded. This was just before Shakespeare’s Sonnets were presumably begun (Kitteridge). There are no true or known literary sources for the play Love’s Labours Lost as far as I am aware apart from those more readily perceived from the Italian Comedia d’elle Arte, but the play draws upon the known biographical events in the life of King Henry of Navarre of France (1553-1610), the attitude of his lords, Biron and Longueville and an overdue debt owed by the late father of a Princess of France. In this sense it appears to be a biographical summary and parody of Henri’s own life and real-life adventures just before or during the Wars of Religion. Therefore this is a finely crafted intellectual skit for the members of the Southampton circle on the parallel life of the fickle faith of at first Protestant Henri IV of France, an infamous womaniser, who went into exile and eventually, despite all the odds broke oath and converted to Catholicism. Aspects of the play resemble in an analogous sense Pierre de Primaudaye’s “Academie Francaise” (1557) and Robert Wilson’s play “The Cobbler’s Paradise” (1594).

The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Pathenogenesis” are as follows:


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