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246 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1598
And Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes—and moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle's.
In Shakespeare's time "nothing" was a euphemism for a woman's naughty bits. This gave the title three different yet equally appropriate meanings, as the main conflict over the play revolves around the false implication of Hero losing her virginity to another man while engaged to Claudio. Therefore it is "Much Ado about Nothing" as nothing was really going on, "Much Ado about Noting" as it's concerned with the views the characters have of each others' moral fiber (how they "note" each other), and "Much Ado about Nothing" as it was concerned with Hero's own naughty bits/her virginity.The Terry Pratchett quote at the top is also rather fine:
Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.With the help of a good online Shakespearian dictionary, I have been carrying out some experiments, and I'm afraid he's right. I have decided to remain mute for the rest of the morning to be on the safe side.
Don Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Benedick. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord, not with love. Prove that ever I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes with a ballad maker’s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel house for the sign of blind Cupid.
Don Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
Benedick. If I do, hang me in a bottle° like a cat and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder and called Adam.
Benedick. What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
Beatrice. Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain if you come in her presence.
Benedick. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies,° only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for truly I love none.
Beatrice. A dear happiness to women! They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
Benedick. Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Beatrice. Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
Benedick. Is there any way to show such friendship?
Beatrice. A very even way, but no such friend.
Benedick. May a man do it?
Beatrice. It is a man’s office, but not yours.
Benedick. I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?
BENE. If Signior Leonato be her (Hero’s) father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as like him as she is.Are these two ready for prime time? You bet.
BEAT. I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick. Nobody marks you.
BENE. What, my dear lady Disdain! Are you yet living?
BEAT. Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.
BENE. Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted. And I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.
BEAT. A dear happiness to women. They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood that I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog barking at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
BENE. God keep your ladyship still in that mind! So some gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate scratched face.
BEAT. Scratching could not make it worse an ‘twere such a face as yours were.
BENE. Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
BEAT. A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
BENE. I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep your way, ‘I God’s name. I have done.
BEAT. You always end with a jade’s trick. [A jade being a bad-tempered horse]