Abstract and Keywords
This essay explores different ways that time affects the reception and reproduction of The Merry Wives of Windsor as they move between the shared present of the theatrical experience, the narrative time of the action, and the invocation of the historical time of social change that informs its contemporary reproduction. It draws attention to the differences in this account of time offered in the two texts of the play (F1 and Q1) and suggests that critical responses to those differences are themselves inflected by expectations arising from attempts to locate the play in time. The aim of the essay throughout is to acknowledge but also resist the implied teleology of the familiar opposition between the present and the past, exploring instead the complex relationships between text, narrative, and time as they are mediated by material changes in theatre and in print.
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