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File:LovesLaboursLost 4485.jpg
"And why anyone should say that Love's Labour's Lost is a bad play, the Lord He knoweth; for to my mind it is one of the most réussi things of its kind ever made ... it is all pure fairy-tale; and some of the loveliest lines in the lyrical-witty mode ever written."

Love's Labour's Lost is a comedy by William Shakespeare. The King of Navarre and his attendant lords make a vow to devote themselves to scholarship and put away interest in women for three years -- just before the Princess of France and her attendant ladies arrive for a visit. Hilarity Ensues.

It's not among Shakespeare's most popular plays. This may be largely due to the style, which has been described as "flamboyantly intellectual", full of wordplay and references to contemporary scholarly interests, many of which have not dated well. Also, for a romantic comedy it has a romantically unsatisfying ending, with all the lovers separated, to (maybe) be reunited in the future.

This latter point probably fed the popularity of the persistent rumour that Shakespeare wrote a now-lost sequel titled Love's Labour's Won[1].

There was a film adaptation in 2000, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as well as Nathan Lane, Allesandro Nivolla, Alicia Silverstone, Timothy Spall, and Adrian Lester.

Love's Labour's Lost provides examples of:

  • Altum Videtur: Used frequently, often with a Genius Bonus or two. (In fact, all those obscure references--meant for its target audience of Elizabethan college students--have lead to the play's obscurity in modern times, as it's rarely chosen by directors for performance.) Moth lampshades this trope:

  They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

The 2000 film adaptation provides examples of:


  1. although at least one record exists of a "Love's Labours Won" by Shakespeare, it is thought now to be the title of an existing work - possibly "Much Ado", "Taming of the Shrew" or "The Merchant of Venice"
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