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AS YOU LIKE IT.
THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
The story is taken from Ariosto, Orl. Fur. B. V. Pope.
It is true, as Mr. Pope has observed, that the story of this play is partly to be found in the fifth book of the Orlando Furioso. In Spenser's Faery Queen, B. II. c. iv. another resemblance may be traced. A novel, of Belleforest, copied from another of Bandello, seems to have supplied Shakspeare with his fable, as it approaches nearer in most of its particulars to the play before us, than any other performance now extant. I have seen so many versions from this popular collection, that I entertain no doubt but that a great majority of the tales have already made their appearance in an English dress. Of that particular story just mentioned, viz. the 18th history in the third volume, no translation has been met with.
Much Ado about Nothing was entered at Stationers' Hall, Aug. 23, 1600. Steevens.
Ariosto is continually quoted for the fable of Much ado about Nothing; but I suspect our poet to have been satisfied with the Geneura of Turberville. "The tale (says Harington) is a pretie comical matter, and hath bin written in English verse some few years past, learnedly and with good grace, by M. George Turbervil." Ariosto, M. 15Q1, p. 39. Farmer.
VOL. II. b