In this groundbreaking book one of the most original and compelling voices in contemporary Shakespeare criticism undertakes a detailed study of the ten extraordinary comedies Shakespeare wrote during his first decade as a dramatist: The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. Through close readings of these plays Kiernan Ryan reveals Shakespeare's deepening disenchantment with his world and his dream of that world transfigured. Ryan engages with each comedy as a unique work of dramatic and poetic art, with its own distinctive concerns and critical challenges, paying special attention to its language and form. As the haunting vision shared by the plays emerges from Ryan's acute analysis of each of them, the book transforms our understanding and appreciation of Shakespearean comedy. Written in a lively, accessible style, Shakespeare's Comedies is essential reading not only for students and teachers, but also for anyone keen to consider these plays from a fresh perspective.