Love’s Labour’s Lost

Shakespeare: the funny bits

The Boys: NO GUЯLS ALLOWED
The Girls: Oh, yeah? [They bat their eyen.
The Boys: Hubbada-hubbada! [They write poems.
Holofernes: Hubbadabilitudinitatibus.
Moth: [Aside to Costard] They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

The last line could stand as the motto to this series of posts. Love’s Labour’s Lost is basically a satire of Euphuism, which is one of those folorn literary movements which is remembered, if at all, as a target of mockery, rather than by virtue of its own works. Euphuism’s chief exponent was John Lyly, a name which is almost too good to be true, as if he thought ‘Lily’ wasn’t precious enough.

So the play’s a treat if you like Renaissance English and seriously dated comedy. If not, I imagine it would be a crashing bore, because the qualities of Euphuism which Shakespeare is poking fun at are close to those things – elaborate conceits, classical allusions and sophisticated rhetoric – which make Shakespeare himself difficult to understand. We have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

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One response to “Love’s Labour’s Lost

  1. “Holofernes: Hubbadabilitudinitatibus.”

    It’s – it’s the truth that you speak!

    Seriously, I’ve literally just stumbled across your Shakespeare funnies now. I’m sort of in love with them.

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