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PLAYS OF SHAKSPEARE

« FALCO
THE FALCON" EDITION

With Introduction and Notes to each Play

JULIUS CÆSAR. By H. C. Beeching.

Is, 6d.

MERCHANT OF VENICE. By H. C. BEECHING. Is. 6d.

KING HENRY IV. Part I. By OLIVER ELTON.

Is. 6.1.

KING RICHARD III. By W. H. PAYNE SMITH.

2s.

AS YOU LIKE IT. By Professor A. C. BRADLEY.
KING HENRY IV. Part II. By A. D. INNES.

IS. Oil.

IN PREPARATION

CORIOLANUS. By H. C. BEECHING.

Others to follow.

RIVINGTONS: LONDON,

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INTRODUCTION

THE interest of the Merchant of Venice is principally

one of Shakespeare's best-constructed plays. It will be well therefore to examine the sources from which it is derived, both because of this interest, and also to see whether they afford any explanation of the difficulties which most strike the reader. The main outline of the plot is found among the tales in a book called Il Pecorone, written by Ser Giovanni, a notary of Florence, about the year 1378, though not published until 1558. Ser Giovanni's story is shortly as follows :

The hero, whom to avoid confusion we may speak of as Bassanio, though Giovanni calls him Gianetto, is the youngest son of a Florentine gentleman, who on his death-bed instead of giving him, as he gave his brothers, a portion of his goods, recommends him to the care of his godfather, the richest merchant in Venice among the Christians. The merchant, who had been the dearest friend of the father, is charmed with the son's good manners, and adopts him as his heir. Accordingly Bassanio takes his place in the fashionable world of Venice, distinguishing himself both by his skill in all sports and by his universal courtesy. “He conducted himself so discreetly with all sorts of people that almost everybody in Venice was fond of him, and loved him greatly. His godfather could think of nothing but him."

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