This edition of one of Shakespeare's most popular and attractive plays adopts a radically new approach to the text. It offers modernized texts not only of the 1599 'good' quarto, but also of the short, or 'bad' quarto of 1597, regarding each as an independent witness to a 'mobile text' which
changed in composition as Shakespeare wrote it and which has continued to evolve throughout its richly varied performance history, not only in the theatre but also in film, television, opera, and even ballet. The longer and more familiar text, first printed in 1599, is presented along with a
detailed explanatory commentary sensitive to both literary and theatrical issues. The earlier, shorter text is annotated only where it differs significantly from the later.
In addition to considering issues of performance, the Introduction traces the Romeo and Juliet narrative from its origins in myth through its adaptation in the novella, a form which changed the story in subtle ways as it crossed national boundaries from Italy to France to England. It shows how
Shakespeare's transmutation of the story reflects contemporary concerns with love, death, adolescence, and patriarchism, and illuminates his artistic experimentations with poetry, style, rhetoric, and dramatic form.