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The winters tale (Ebook Book 23)

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The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, first published in the First Folio in 1623. Although it was listed as a comedy when it first appeared, some modern editors have relabeled the play a romance. Some critics, among them W. W. Lawrence (Lawrence, 9-13), consider it to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", because the first three acts are filled with intens The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, first published in the First Folio in 1623. Although it was listed as a comedy when it first appeared, some modern editors have relabeled the play a romance. Some critics, among them W. W. Lawrence (Lawrence, 9-13), consider it to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", because the first three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending.


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The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, first published in the First Folio in 1623. Although it was listed as a comedy when it first appeared, some modern editors have relabeled the play a romance. Some critics, among them W. W. Lawrence (Lawrence, 9-13), consider it to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", because the first three acts are filled with intens The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare, first published in the First Folio in 1623. Although it was listed as a comedy when it first appeared, some modern editors have relabeled the play a romance. Some critics, among them W. W. Lawrence (Lawrence, 9-13), consider it to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", because the first three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending.

30 review for The winters tale (Ebook Book 23)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Something for Shakespeare In The Park, maybe? “Good my Lord, be cured of this diseased opinion, and betimes, for ‘tis most dangerous.” That is the well-meant advice Camillo gives the delusional King Leontes, whose whims and flawed imagination are about to destroy his family and his kingdom. Needless to say, the all-powerful king does not listen. The drama unfolds with predictably disastrous effects, as the most powerful person is at the same time the most self-indulgent, paranoid and Something for Shakespeare In The Park, maybe? “Good my Lord, be cured of this diseased opinion, and betimes, for ‘tis most dangerous.” That is the well-meant advice Camillo gives the delusional King Leontes, whose whims and flawed imagination are about to destroy his family and his kingdom. Needless to say, the all-powerful king does not listen. The drama unfolds with predictably disastrous effects, as the most powerful person is at the same time the most self-indulgent, paranoid and mentally underdeveloped. His entourage, knowing the danger of speaking truth to power, resigns itself to the doctrine: “I dare not know, my Lord.” The main plot is one of jealousy and impulsive decisions, but there is a deeper, sadder truth underneath the raging king’s machinations. “A sad tale’s best for winter”, king Leontes’ young son tells his mother, before both become victims of the “tremor cordis” that deprives the king of his judgment. What happened? The king’s good friend Polixenes wants to leave after a stay at the court, and Leontes fails to convince him to prolong his visit. He therefore asks his wife, Hermione, to do her best to talk him into staying, and when she succeeds, he can’t believe it is due to her rhetorical skills. Instead, he believes that his friend and wife have an affair. As absurd as it may sound, Leontes perseveres in this position, to the point of charging Hermione with treason, while claiming to support a “just and open trial”. The justice and openness, however, turn into “fake news” and “alternative truths” when the oracle (the higher power of the law), does not confirm the king’s delusion, but frees his innocent wife of all accusations. Leontes overrides the law, acting according to his emotionally unstable mind, but with full executive power: “Your actions are my dreams. You Had a bastard by Polixenes And I but dreamed it. As you Were past all shame - Those Of your fact are so - so past All truth.” Reading this during the sad winter’s tale that is unfolding in our world of 2017, I feel almost nauseous. It is painful to see the bizarre misogyny that leads men in most of Shakespeare’s plays to destroy women’s and children’s lives because they can, despite often being ethically and intellectually as well as psychologically weaker than the Shakespearean women. They are however physically stronger and at the centre of executive power, and this is not something I can shrug off anymore, putting it under the heading “Something that people used to think over 400 years ago”. This is still very much the status quo in (too) many parts of the world. When Virginia Woolf imagined the career of a talented, fictional sister of Shakespeare’s, in her essay A Room of One's Own, she showed all the obstacles that the Shakespeare sister would have stumbled over to make her fail where her male counterpart succeeded, simply for being a woman. Had she shown the rhetorical skills of Hermione, men would have accused her of plagiarism, of adultery, or something else, maybe “unwomanly” behaviour. Men, in Shakespeare’s world, take what they want, when they need it, and think later: “I am a feather for each wind that blows”, King Leontes says. Of course he is punished for overthrowing the higher law of the oracle. Sixteen years - that gap of time - he has to expiate his rash behaviour, before the tragedy turns into comedy, and he deserves a second chance, reunited with his daughter, and with his wife, magically come alive again in an Pygmalionesque act of turning art into life. All’s Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare seems to say, and his cast walks off stage with the promise of filling in “the gap of time”, telling each other the stories of their lives during those miserable sixteen years of pain, until Leontes’ reason sets everything right again. I can’t help disagreeing. I see the tragedy unfolding with perfect clarity. I admire the accuracy with which Shakespeare depicted the folly of the powerful, surrounded by friends, but besieged by his own poisoned mind. I can see the helplessness and despair of women, children and servants who are without protection against this abuse. And I can see some kind of reconciliation at the end of the tunnel, after “a gap of time”. BUT! It is not all well that ends well. There is the sacrifice of the young son, who listened to his mother’s sad winter’s tale, not knowing that he had reached the premature winter of his own short life. And there is good-hearted Antigonus, who saves the baby girl Perdita, Leontes’ child, which he wants to see killed in the delusion that it is his friend’s bastard. Antigonus dies, earning long-lasting fame for his dramatic departure: “Exit, pursued by a bear!” Even if tyranny does not last, it is not acceptable to let mad, hormone-driven narcissistic old men exert power until time makes them more reasonable from within themselves. Whenever an environment is created where people feel “they dare not know”, with all that implies of actual (secret) knowledge, it has already gone too far, and something must be done, without “a gap of time”. Collective amnesia or ignorance is not an option! Unfortunately, Shakespeare’s first three acts, labelled tragedy, were more convincing and realistic than the last two, the comedy which needs a “deus ex machina” Pygmalion moment to force a happy end. What can be done? We can’t rely on Shakespeare’s genius to write a better ending to the tragedy of madness and power, can we? But he, as always, saw it clear and put it into unforgettable language! Recommended to: THE WORLD! (For we have more madmen - and women - than we can bear!) Exeo, pursued by a (night)mare!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    A masterpiece, demonstrating how grace redeems and love restores over time. This play features one of Shakespeare's most interesting psychological studies (Leontes) and two of his most charming heroines (Hermione and Perdita). Shakespeare's art has deepened to the point where he can deliberately choose an outrageously improbable denouement and present it in a way that makes his play more moving and richer symbolically than it would have been with a more probable conclusion.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare originally published in the First Folio of 1623. The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588. Shakespeare's changes to the plot are uncharacteristically slight, especially in light of the romance's undramatic nature, and Shakespeare's fidelity to it gives The Winter's Tale its most distinctive feature: the sixteen-year gap between the th The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare originally published in the First Folio of 1623. The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588. Shakespeare's changes to the plot are uncharacteristically slight, especially in light of the romance's undramatic nature, and Shakespeare's fidelity to it gives The Winter's Tale its most distinctive feature: the sixteen-year gap between the third and fourth acts. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2016 میلادی عنوان: حکایت زمستان؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ ماخذ اصلی این نمایشنامه حکایت عاشقانه و روستایی پیروزی زمان، اثر: رابرت گرین (1588، چاپ دوم 1607) نویسنده هم عصر شکسپیر است؛ اما تغییرات بسیاری در داستان گرین داده شده‌ است. از جمله ی این تغییرات می‌توان به: زنده نگه داشته شدن ملکه مظلوم، حذف یک خواسته ناشایست شاه و خودکشی نکردن شاه، در انتهای داستان؛ نام برد. زنده شدن مجسمه ی ملکه، ممکن است از افسانه‌ های پیگمالیون، یا آلستیس یونان باستان، استخراج شده باشد نمایشنامه ای کمدی در پنج پرده، و دارای نوزده شخصیت، و تعدادی سیاهی لشکر است. شخصیت‌های اصلی عبارت اند از: لئونتس: پادشاه جزیره سیسیل، دوست زمان کودکی و نوجوانی پولیکسینس؛ هرمیون: ملکه لئونتس، موجودی باارزش، صبور در سختی‌ها؛ پولیکسینس: پادشاه بوهیمیا و مهمان دربار شاه سیسیل؛ کامیلو: مشاور نیکوکار و قابل اعتماد لئونتس؛ پائولینا: بانوی نیک دربار، از ندیمه‌ های ملکه هرمیون؛ آنتیگونوس: شوهر پائولینا؛ مامیلیوس: فرزند شاه و ملکه سیسیل؛ کلئومینس؛ دیون؛ امیلیا؛ آرخیداموس؛ تایم؛ فلوریتزل؛ پردیتا؛ گله بان پیر؛ دلقک؛ موپسا؛ دورکارس؛ آتولیکوس؛ لردها؛ بانوان درباری؛ پیشکاران؛ زندانبانان؛ ماموران دادگاه‌های قضاوت؛ خدایان جنگل برای رقص؛ چوپانان و نگهبانان؛ محل وقوع حوادث نمایشنامه: جزیره سیسیل و بوهیمیا؛ خلاصه‌ ای از نمایشنامه: لئونتس با خشنودی تمام سرگرم پذیرایی از پولیکسینس پادشاه بوهیمیا و دوست زمان کودکی خویش است؛ ولی چون هرچه تعارف می‌کند نمی‌تواند مهمان خود را متقاعد سازد که تمام زمستان را نزد او بماند، از همسر خود خواهش می‌کند با اصرار موافقتش را جلب کند. وقتی ملکه به سهولت موافقت مهمان را کسب می‌کند، شک و تردید لئونتس برانگیخته می‌شود و به این خیال می‌افتد که باید بین این دو سَروسِری باشد. این احساس شک شاه به زودی به مشغله ی فکری شبانه روزی او بدل می‌شود، تا آنجا که به یکی از مشاوران وفادارش به نام کامیلو دستور می‌دهد پولیکسینس را مسموم کند؛ ولی کامیلو که به بیگناهی پولیکسینس ایمان دارد، او را از خطری که در کمینش است آگاه می‌کند و مقدمات فرار شبانه ی او را فراهم می‌سازد و خود نیز همراه او از دربار سیسیل می‌گریزد...؛ ا. شربیانی

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    “A sad tale’s best for winter” An incredible potpourri of comedy, tragedy and fantasy that once again defies categorization. Dramatic realism comes through in the form of an obsessively jealous king, reminiscent of well-known Othello, the complex relationships between parents and children, as in King Lear or Hamlet, mystical resonance in Greek legends that contemplate sculptures turning into human beings, recalling the Christian concept of resurrection, and a lush, floral poetry that evokes the “A sad tale’s best for winter” An incredible potpourri of comedy, tragedy and fantasy that once again defies categorization. Dramatic realism comes through in the form of an obsessively jealous king, reminiscent of well-known Othello, the complex relationships between parents and children, as in King Lear or Hamlet, mystical resonance in Greek legends that contemplate sculptures turning into human beings, recalling the Christian concept of resurrection, and a lush, floral poetry that evokes the romanticism of the classic pastorals. All these apparently discordant features, which would easily create a muddled hotchpotch nine out of ten times, converge into an exuberant tale in the hands of the Bard. Hermione and Paulina have joined the list of my favorite female characters by Shakespeare, particularly the last one, who speaks her mind in front of the king and remains loyal to the queen, even when she is unjustly punished by chance in the form of an exotic bear that has a brief appearance in the middle of Act 3. Even Perdita, who like Miranda in "The Tempest" is presented as a nothing more than a beautiful maiden of a marriageable age, is surrounded by a sensuous aura that charms and bewitches the reader with the musical cadence of her soliloquies. Leaving the supernatural elements aside and the not so cohesive presentation in terms of action, time or location, Shakespeare appeals to the redeeming power of virtue and repentance to have a second opportunity to mend past mistakes, elevating art and love to cathartic forces that can perform miracles, the lost can be found again and be given a warm embrace back home, even in the coldest of winters. “What’s gone, and what’s past help, Should be past grief.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    Image of Dench and Branagh, 2016: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/da... Reviews of audio books count, so I guess watching a play should, too. Perhaps more so, as that was the author's intended medium. I saw a stage production of The Winter's Tale a few days after finishing Jeanette Winterson's modern novelisation, The Gap of Time, which I reviewed HERE. My mother tells me I saw the play in my late teens, but I have no memory of it. My knowledge of the plot was from Winterson's summary and then her adaptation. I enjoyed the play, but it was odder than I expected (I s Image of Dench and Branagh, 2016: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/da... Reviews of audio books count, so I guess watching a play should, too. Perhaps more so, as that was the author's intended medium. I saw a stage production of The Winter's Tale a few days after finishing Jeanette Winterson's modern novelisation, The Gap of Time, which I reviewed HERE. My mother tells me I saw the play in my late teens, but I have no memory of it. My knowledge of the plot was from Winterson's summary and then her adaptation. I enjoyed the play, but it was odder than I expected (I see now that it's usually categorised as one of the "problem plays" because it is both tragedy and comedy). Many of the key events happen off-stage (e.g. deaths), though it does have the famous stage direction, “Exit, pursued by bear”. Somehow, it worked, though. 1. Royal Tragedy Act one establishes a happy family and a happy court, before things rapidly disintegrate through the tragic and alarming madness of the King Leontes, obsessed by the lie that his pregnant wife’s baby is that of his childhood friend. The steadfastness of his wife is admirable and moving, though it perhaps stretches credulity. Or maybe I’m just not as hopeful, loving, or forgiving as Hermione. Nevertheless, those are entirely positive attributes. More problematic, are the unpalatable, immoral, and illegal actions demanded of some, under the guise of loyalty to their king. Zimbardo’s infamous Stanford Prison experiment and Milgram’s obedience experiments came to mind. Death comes to the court, and profound loss in addition to that. 2. Bucolic Comedy The second act fast forwards sixteen years to a lively sheep-shearing festival, young love vetoed, and some comic routines from a pickpocket/peddler, amongst others. The more subtle theme (emphasised far more strongly in Winterson’s version) is about the goodness that can be found in ordinary people – selfless love, whether of an adult for a foundling, or between young people, not thinking of wealth or social position (or their lack of). 3. Revelations, Resolution, Redemption? It ends with revelations, resolution, and a transformation that might be magic, an hallucination, or a straightforward trick. Forgiveness. A happy ending that is another reason why this is no tragedy. But it is strange.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    I decided not to do an abridged version of this play because, frankly, it's already so ridiculous that I can't improve on it. Instead, we here at Madeline Reviews Inc present a fictionalized account of an event that probably occured right before the writing of this (thankfully) little-known play. Enjoy: SCENE: a tavern in Renaissance London. CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE and BEN JONSON are sitting at the bar, already several ales into the morning. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE enters, falls down, and the I decided not to do an abridged version of this play because, frankly, it's already so ridiculous that I can't improve on it. Instead, we here at Madeline Reviews Inc present a fictionalized account of an event that probably occured right before the writing of this (thankfully) little-known play. Enjoy: SCENE: a tavern in Renaissance London. CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE and BEN JONSON are sitting at the bar, already several ales into the morning. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE enters, falls down, and then gets up and stumbles to the bar. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: Guys, I just got the best idea EVER for a play. CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE: That’s great Bill...hang on, why are your eyes so red? Jesus, have you been at the opium den AGAIN? BEN JONSON: Seriously dude, twice a day is plenty. SHAKESPEARE: SHUT UP AND LISTEN. Okay, so there’s this king, right, and he thinks his wife is cheating on him, but she’s really not, but he doesn’t know that, so he puts her on trial and she dies – I’m not sure how yet, I’ll work it out later - and then... MARLOWE: Um, Bill, I think you already did that one. SHAKESPEARE: No, this one is DIFFERENT, because it’s a million times cooler. Anyway, there’s gonna be a witch - JONSON: Did that already, too SHAKESPEARE: - and siblings getting separated - MARLOWE: Several times. SHAKESPEARE: - and then there’s gonna be a bear attack, and then at the end, a statue COMES TO LIFE. *long, awkward silence* MARLOWE: Well, that sounds...different. JONSON: Bill, I gotta be honest, I don’t think people are gonna go for this one. Why don’t you just write another history play? SHAKESPEARE: Oh yeah, like I’m going to take writing advice from YOU, Jonson. MARLOWE: Oh god, here he goes. SHAKESPEARE: Honestly, you call yourself a writer? Don't make me laugh, kid. I invented the word “eyeball”, did you know that? Eyeball. What the fuck have YOU done? MARLOWE: Listen, Bill, he just meant that... SHAKESPEARE: And YOU! Thinking you’re so great just because you wrote some play about a guy who summons the devil – which was totally my idea first! “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium.” *spits on the ground* Great line, genius. Like anyone’s even going to remember that piece of shit ten years from now. JONSON: William, cut it out. You’re going to get us kicked out, AGAIN. SHAKESPEARE: He’s a spy, you know. He works for the fucking MAN. NARC! MARLOWE: God damn it, Bill, keep your mouth shut. Do you want me to get stabbed to death? SHAKESPEARE: Ah, fuck you all. I’m going to be more famous than either of you, just wait and see! JONSON: Not the way you’re going. I bet in a hundred years people won’t even be sure if you actually ever EXISTED. SHAKESPEARE: Oh, go to hell, Jonson. *falls down* MARLOWE: Come on, let’s get him to the doctor. A few leeches should cure what ails him. SHAKESPEARE: Hey, did I ever tell you guys about the time I nailed Viola de Lesseps? JONSON: You’re so full of shit, dude. and SCENE. ps: just fyi, in case anyone tries to show off how smart they are and points out that Marlowe wasn't alive when Shakespeare wrote The Winter's Tale, I will seriously slap you. Over the INTERNET.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Khush

    This is a story of male friendship. We have the king of Sicily, Leontes, and the king of Bohemia, Polixenes indulging their fondness for each other. From the very outset, we see how these two friends socialize and enjoy the pleasures of being together. Even if they both have wives in tow (however, Prolixness is visiting Leontes without his queen), it is still a queer friendship. For instance, they both are kings, but Polixenes have the time to spend nine months with Leontes. Conventionally, this This is a story of male friendship. We have the king of Sicily, Leontes, and the king of Bohemia, Polixenes indulging their fondness for each other. From the very outset, we see how these two friends socialize and enjoy the pleasures of being together. Even if they both have wives in tow (however, Prolixness is visiting Leontes without his queen), it is still a queer friendship. For instance, they both are kings, but Polixenes have the time to spend nine months with Leontes. Conventionally, this would have made more sense, had he actually been in love with the Leontes' queen, Hermione. But this is not the case, he is in the kingdom of Sicily only because of Leontes. Their bond is unique; it is based on loyalty, concern, and tenderness for each. Clearly, in those times, it must have been difficult for men, especially for noblemen– more so for the Kings– to love other men the way they could keep any number of women. But there must be a way, there must have been spaces where homosexual-urges could find nourishment. This is not to suggest that the kings in the play are sexually involved, but to say that their friendship has a distinct flavor of same-sex love to it. After spending nine months together, Polixenes wants to return to his kingdom. (Such a long stay in the case of a king was itself odd. One would have understood such a carefree, long sojourn if they were both poets, or at least one of them was). One wonders how could Polixenes stay such a long time with Leontes. Who looked after his kingdom, his queen? Now when he wants to leave, Leontes does not want him to go. As if being a king, having a wonderful queen Hermione and all the pleasures that come with it are not enough for Leontes, as if his life would be less on his friend's departure. Even after having him for long, Leontes is not sated. He begs Polixenes to extend his stay. These pleadings are the pleadings of a lover. When his pleadings do not work, Leontes involves his wife and asks her to intervene and implore Prolixenes to prolong his stay. This works, but finally, this has severe consequences. Leontes turns suspicious and wonders how come Prolixenes agreed so readily to stay on the requests of the queen and ignored his pleas. These freakish thoughts tinged with jealousy again tell us about the dynamics of his relationship with Prolixenes. He becomes furious less like a friend, more like a spurned lover– whose love interest has somehow ditched him by giving in to the beseechings of Hermione; something that is withheld from him. In reality, Polixenes might have been moved by the queen's request to stay; as if her asking him validates, in some fundamental way, his friendship with Leontes (Sadly, such a possibility never occurred to Leontes, in his passion and blinded involvement, he could not see it). However, once the jealousy and doubt emerge, they cloud Leontes' mind entirely, and he commits atrocities of the most ignoble kind. But the play, at last, ends happily. The unmistakable hints of same-sex love (if not an outright homosexual relationship) that we see in the first few acts are finally subsumed in the final act. The Princess meets his Prince, The King his Queen, and somewhere in the background, 'a male friendship' is restored. In other words, the straight narrative exerts itself in the final act and takes center stage, whereas the unruly male friendship is pushed to the margins.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    "Exit, pursued by a bear" is the most famous stage direction in literature. It comes here in Winter's Tale, at the end of Act III, and it's famous because it's funny. And the really funny thing is it's been a hella dark play until this moment. What happened is King Leontes has become suddenly and irrationally convinced that his wife is cheating on him (like Othello, with some Lear), so he thinks his infant daughter isn't his, so he orders her exposed in the wilderness to die, and the guy who drops her off, An "Exit, pursued by a bear" is the most famous stage direction in literature. It comes here in Winter's Tale, at the end of Act III, and it's famous because it's funny. And the really funny thing is it's been a hella dark play until this moment. What happened is King Leontes has become suddenly and irrationally convinced that his wife is cheating on him (like Othello, with some Lear), so he thinks his infant daughter isn't his, so he orders her exposed in the wilderness to die, and the guy who drops her off, Antigonus, immediately gets chased off screen by the bear. It's conceivable that Shakespeare used a real bear. Antigonus (view spoiler)[dies, by the way, the bear gets him. (hide spoiler)] That stage direction marks a shift: the bear chases tragedy off screen, and brings comedy in with him. Act IV moves forward 16 years and shifts radically into silliness - and porniness, too: the dialogue between Florizel and Perdita is some of Shakespeare's hornier work. A tinker shows up bearing "such delicate burdens of dildos and fadings," and fadings means orgasms and dildos means dildos, so if you're wondering where dildos pop up first in literature it's Aristophanes but here's this too. Act IV is not really very good: it's confusing, full of characters and subplots that aren't remotely necessary. And that tonal shift is jarring. This is sometimes called one of Shakespeare's "problem plays": the bummer rug gets pulled out from under us when it ends happily, and we're left unsure what to make of it. Queen Hermione (view spoiler)[comes back to life in a Pygmalion moment, and it's not even clear whether this has been magic or trickery. The obvious guess is trickery, but when she died it was implied that Leontes saw her body. (hide spoiler)] And after all, Prince Mamillius (view spoiler)[is still dead of grief. (hide spoiler)] It's a little unsatisfying. But it sticks with you; it leaves an impression. "I am a feather for each wind that blows," complains Leontes, and the play feels a little like that too. But it's an interesting wind.

  9. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    The BBC does an amazing job with this audiobook. As for the story, I really wish the king had gotten far more of comeuppance for his bad behavior.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    Book Review I will begin this review of The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare by saying a few things to keep it in context: 1. I read this play back in my junior year of college as part of my Shakespeare course. The course was 15 weeks long and held on Saturday mornings at 9am. I had no option but to take it at this time. As a junior, even though I was quite studious, I also liked to have some fun... and Friday nights were a key period of fun... I may or may not (no confessions here) have not quite Book Review I will begin this review of The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare by saying a few things to keep it in context: 1. I read this play back in my junior year of college as part of my Shakespeare course. The course was 15 weeks long and held on Saturday mornings at 9am. I had no option but to take it at this time. As a junior, even though I was quite studious, I also liked to have some fun... and Friday nights were a key period of fun... I may or may not (no confessions here) have not quite turned 21 yet... but did enjoy a few drinks (that's all I will say) on Friday evenings. And then I had to go to class the next morning. 2. In this Shakespeare course, we read 1 play each week, wrote a paper on it, and then discussed it from 9 to 12. This was a really difficult course mostly due to the advanced nature of the analysis, the ruthless professor (whom I actually was quite close with) and the time it was held. Towards the end, The Winter's Tale was one of those 15 plays... and by the grace of every single deity out there, this was not one I had to present or do a major paper on. We wrote 5 major papers, 5 small papers and 5 journal entries. I got lucky and this was a journal entry. 3. It did not capture my attention for all of the above reasons, but also because it was a little too "out there" for me. I love most of Shakespeare's work, but this was not one I could engage with. It was written towards the end of his career and probably one of his better masterpieces, given everything he learned over his prolific career. But the play had so many themes, sub-plots and topics, I was just a bit overwhelmed. 4. If this is the first review you're reading from me, you should have stopped earlier and read some different ones before this one. I rarely give a 5 out, only when my life has been changed as a result of reading it. I only give a 1 out of it should never have been published. So in the scale of 2 to 4... 4 is a strong recommendation to read it and a 3 is your generally good book. I haven't given many 2's out either, but this one is on the border of 2 or a 3, but my memory yells at me to give it a 2. I suppose I should re-read it... but why? There are definitely other great works of literature before I'd go back to read something I didn't much care for. That said... I've given you very little in this review other than to re-count a tale of my college experience and a time when I couldn't connect with a book. I'm sorry Mr. Shakespeare. I'm sorry book review readers. This one just fell too flat for me to even put more energy into describing all the reasons why. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. [polldaddy poll=9729544] [polldaddy poll=9719251]

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Abridged version: (inspired by Madeline's great abridged versions) Act I LEONTES, KING OF SICILY: You are my bestest friend since childhood, Polixenes! POLIXENES, KING OF BOHEMIA: You are my bestest friend too, Leontes! But it’s been 9 months and, y’know, I need to get home to my kingdom and son and all. KING LEONTES: NOOOOOO. I need you in my life! Stay, stay! QUEEN HERMIONE: I agree with my husband. KING POLIXENES: Well, shucks, fine, I’ll stay a little longer. KING LEONTES:/>Act Abridged version: (inspired by Madeline's great abridged versions) Act I LEONTES, KING OF SICILY: You are my bestest friend since childhood, Polixenes! POLIXENES, KING OF BOHEMIA: You are my bestest friend too, Leontes! But it’s been 9 months and, y’know, I need to get home to my kingdom and son and all. KING LEONTES: NOOOOOO. I need you in my life! Stay, stay! QUEEN HERMIONE: I agree with my husband. KING POLIXENES: Well, shucks, fine, I’ll stay a little longer. KING LEONTES: MY WIFE IS A CHEATING WHORE. CAMILLO: Wait, what? KING LEONTES: Kill Polixenes! The only reason he’s staying is because of the queen! They’re totally doing it behind my back! CAMILLO: Hey, Polixenes, you might want to skiddaddle. Leontes is in a killing mood. KING POLIXENES: Yeah, I’m just going to bounce. Queen Hermione should totally be okay. Laters! Act II KING LEONTES: YOU ARE A DIRTY WHORE HERMIONE! AND THE BABY YOU’RE CARRYING IS DEFINITELY POLIXENES’ BASTARD! QUEEN HERMIONE: What? NOBLES: What? KING LEONTES: TO THE JAIL WITH YOU, WOMAN! *Queen Hermione goes to jail and gives birth* KING LEONTES: BURN THE BASTARD BABY! ANTIGONUS: Yeah, I’m going to have to say no to that one. KING LEONTES: OKAY THEN ABANDON IT IN THE WOODS. ANTIGONUS: That I can do. Act III QUEEN HERMIONE: I’m innocent! KING LEONTES: LIES! APOLLO'S ORACLE: The queen’s innocent. Polixenes is innocent. King Leontes is a tyrant. KING LEONTES: LIES! SERVANT: Your son died! KING LEONTES: Apollo is totes angry I accused him of lying! My bad! My wife is totally innocent. *Queen Hermione dies of grief* KING LEONTES: D’oh! ANTIGONUS: Baby-abandoning time! Well, my job’s done so I guess I’m going to be killed off. *Exit, pursued by a bear* [actual stage direction!] SHEPHERD: Ooh, a baby! And gold! Shiny! Act IV TIME: Sixteen years pass! Whee! King Leontes’ daughter, Perdita, is raised by the shepherd and grows up pretty. King Polixenes’ son, Florizel, grows up a romantic. FLORIZEL: I love you! PERDITA: I love you more! FLORIZEL: Let’s get married! KING POLIXENES *in disguise*: What would your father say about this? Florizel: There’s a reason I’m not telling him. KING POLIXENES: *takes off disguise* Darn straight there’s a reason! Death to the Shepherd! Mauling for Perdita! Disinheritance if you ever speak of the shepherd’s daughter again! FLORIZEL: That is so unfair! I don’t want to be the stupid king of your stupid kingdom anyway! We’re going to elope! *Perdita and Florizel run off to King Leontes’ court* Act V KING LEONTES: My dead wife was the most perfect, angelic, saint-like woman ever! *Perdita and Florizel arrive* FLORIZEL: I am totally not eloping with a shepherdess. KING LEONTES: Aww, what a sweet couple. LORD: Florizel’s father is here. And Florizel is totally eloping with a shepherdess. KING LEONTES: Let’s go talk to your father, Florizel. FLORIZEL: Aw man. RANDOM EXTRAS: King Leontes’ finding out Perdita was his lost daughter and reuniting with her was so touching. Too bad the audience couldn’t see it! We’ll just talk about how the Shepherd showed up and revealed Perdita’s true heritage and King Leontes and King Polixenes became friends again and now Perdita and Florizel can get married and everyone cried from happiness. PERDITA: Let's all go see my mother’s statue! QUEEN HERMIONE'S STATUE: I came to life! Or maybe I was never dead and was just pretending to be a statue! Who knows! Happy endings all around! Actual review: This is one of the more cracked-out Shakespeare plays I've read, what with the random bear-chasing (and devouring!) and the maybe-statue-coming-to-life/maybe-Hermione-just-pretending-to-be-a-statue thing. I didn't like King Leonte's random wife-accusing. At least Othello was convinced by the devious Iago that his wife was cheating. King Leontes came up with his insane troll logic by himself. I also tend to have a problem with Shakespeare's comedies in general. I think they can be hilarious when performed, but they really rely on good comedic timing/acting that just does not translate when you're reading it by yourself. I was intrigued by the unrepentant rogue Autolycus (cut from the abridged version) because he revels in his badness. I think a good actor could make him incredibly fun.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    When I read this in High School last, I believed that I loved it more than all the other Shakespeare plays combined, and it still holds a ton of charm for me now, although not quite as much as before. For one, the thief was slightly more annoying than as a charming plot device. For another, it's hard to believe that even divorce could be so reconciled. :) Granted, this is an almost magical divorce, so why not ramp up the reconciliation to wipe away the tragedy of When I read this in High School last, I believed that I loved it more than all the other Shakespeare plays combined, and it still holds a ton of charm for me now, although not quite as much as before. For one, the thief was slightly more annoying than as a charming plot device. For another, it's hard to believe that even divorce could be so reconciled. :) Granted, this is an almost magical divorce, so why not ramp up the reconciliation to wipe away the tragedy of a child's death, the loss of the newborn as well, the wrongful accusation and downfall of a true wife, and his betrayal of his loyal servant JUST BECAUSE he's been regretting all his actions for 20 years? It's a very strong story if we're meant to feel pity for the old man. He regains everything except his eldest child because he was sincere in his remorse. It's damn beautiful, even, but in the end it's pure fantasy. This was written at the end of Shakespeare's career and it was possibly meant to be his own expression of remorse. It fits the narrative, anyway, in the same way that Mozart wrote his own Requiem. However, from an alternative reading of the text, I can't help but hate the blasé disregard for Hermione, the way she quietly retired away out of anyone's company for 20 years after the events (or she really did die and come back as a reanimated statue, which is slightly more palatable because at least she wouldn't have been so bored or lonely,) or the way that the rest of the world could even ALLOW THESE EVENTS TO HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. *groan* Look. I'm just upset at the state of the world here. I suppose Shakespeare is upset about it as well. After all, he focuses the second act entirely upon letting young people choose who they want to love and paint all other choices as tyrannical, and Perdita herself certainly knows her own mind, so it's not all black-and-white in the play. Her mother also knew her own mind when she used her wits to do as her husband bade, too, but we all know how that turned out. Double-standards and insane jealousy seems to be the name of the game for us all, no? *sigh* Still, it's undeniably a brilliant play. :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “It is an heretic that makes the fire, Not she which burns in't.” - Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale It starts out as a problem play and ends up a problematic, pastoral mess. First, I should disclose, and probably have before, that I'm not a fan of Shakespeare's plays with songs. I'd even complain about the songs in A Midsummer Nights Dream if it wasn't such a damn “It is an heretic that makes the fire, Not she which burns in't.” - Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale It starts out as a problem play and ends up a problematic, pastoral mess. First, I should disclose, and probably have before, that I'm not a fan of Shakespeare's plays with songs. I'd even complain about the songs in A Midsummer Nights Dream if it wasn't such a damn fine play. But my main issue with this play isn't the music, the play is just uneven. It starts off crazynuts (in a good way): a mad/jealous king striking out at everything (friends, wives, counselors) and it moves through: lost and found children, mistaken identities, and reconciliations/reincarnations. However, it all ties off a bit TOO easy. I'm sure the uneven melodrama might play well in front of an half-drunk audience, I just didn't buy it. It left me feeling a bit cheap and used. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to laugh, grumble, or clap at the end. Meh. I'd probably give the play two stars except for the use of dildos (‘Jump her and thump her’?) and bears in the play. I guess, if you are going to throw EVERYTHING into a play, you might as well toss in sex toys and Ursus Shakespearimus. Favorite Quotes: "Is this nothing? Why then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing: The covering sky is nothing, Bohemia nothing, My wife is nothing, nor nothing have these nothings, If this be nothing." - Act 1, Scene 2 “I have drunk, And seen the spider.” - Act 2, Scene 1 "The silence often of pure innocence Persuades when speaking fails." - Act 2, Scene 2 "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance" - Act 4, Scene 4 “Age, thou hast lost thy labor.” - Act 4, Scene 4 "I am ashamed. Does not the stone rebuke me For being more stone than it?" - Act 5, Scene 2 Exit, pursued by a bear.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction is perhaps the most famous, or infamous, stage direction in drama. Beyond the odd line, this is a fun, meaningful play and one of The Bard’s more unusual dramatic comedies. The story of a jealous husband falls far short of Othello, both in scale and in depth. This has moments, Hermione's soliloquy, Antigone's plea to Leontes, but also very disjointed and with a crazy ending! (and apparently geography was not an exact science back in the day). “I do feel it gone, But know not “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction is perhaps the most famous, or infamous, stage direction in drama. Beyond the odd line, this is a fun, meaningful play and one of The Bard’s more unusual dramatic comedies. The story of a jealous husband falls far short of Othello, both in scale and in depth. This has moments, Hermione's soliloquy, Antigone's plea to Leontes, but also very disjointed and with a crazy ending! (and apparently geography was not an exact science back in the day). “I do feel it gone, But know not how it went”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    You might be forgiven for thinking that the most ‘fairy-tale’ like of Shakespeare’s plays is A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. I mean, there are fairies and sprites and crazy things like that running about in it. But in some ways this play is even more like a fairy-tale. The play also starts off a bit like Othello – where jealousy inspires acts of vengeance, even though the cause of the jealousy is baseless and the product of a mind fevered by suspicion. The first half of the play ends pretty much wer You might be forgiven for thinking that the most ‘fairy-tale’ like of Shakespeare’s plays is A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. I mean, there are fairies and sprites and crazy things like that running about in it. But in some ways this play is even more like a fairy-tale. The play also starts off a bit like Othello – where jealousy inspires acts of vengeance, even though the cause of the jealousy is baseless and the product of a mind fevered by suspicion. The first half of the play ends pretty much were Othello ends, with a man realising he has destroyed his entire life by his willingness to believe and has killed all those who love him by his irrational revenges caused by his jealous rage. And, of course, a guy gets eaten by a bear and there is a ship wreck. The fairy-tale elements really come to the fore in part two of this play – because this really is a play in two parts. The driving force of the second part is that the daughter of the king who was left to be exposed and die is, in fact, brought up by a simple farmer. This is another of those stories where nature triumphs over nurture. The unknown princess catches the eye of a prince who falls helplessly in love with her. This causes some problems with the prince’s father and so prince and farmer’s daughter (really a princess – you know the score) elope. The play ends with a curious retelling of Ovid’s Pygmalion story – with a statue literally coming back to life. This being a comedy everything works out in the end – you can generally tell the difference between one of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies by what happens to the characters at the end, if they all die, it was a tragedy, if they all get married, it was a comedy. Although the king had clearly repented his jealousy and forgiveness is next to holiness and all that – I’m not sure I could have as willingly forgiven him as is done at the end of this play. He had still been the cause of the death of a son and had separated mother and daughter for decades. But this is theatre, not life, I guess. This is a bizarre little play in many ways, but also a bit of a favourite – it does feel a little ‘bitsy’ at times and a bit like three quite different plays slammed together, and it is also a little hard to suspend disbelief right at the end, but there are parts of this play that are jaw-droppingly good.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078wtnn Description: Eve Best, Danny Sapani and Shaun Dooley star in the magical product of the Bard's later years. Treading new dramatic ground The Winter's Tale embraces tragedy, poetry, folklore, magic realism, music, comedy and the infamous stage direction "exit pursued by a bear".

  17. 5 out of 5

    leynes

    "The Winter's Tale" is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623, it was possibly written in 1610 or 1611. Labelling this play is not easy – it features elements of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies alike, and shows traits of the Greek romance as well. It is definitely one of the more complex plays, featuring a rich cast of characters, several jumps in location and time, and in general a lot of deep discussions about a variety of themes. Therefore, I would "The Winter's Tale" is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623, it was possibly written in 1610 or 1611. Labelling this play is not easy – it features elements of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies alike, and shows traits of the Greek romance as well. It is definitely one of the more complex plays, featuring a rich cast of characters, several jumps in location and time, and in general a lot of deep discussions about a variety of themes. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this play to someone who is trying to get into Shakespeare, but if you have some experience with the Bard, feel free to check it out, because it is quite enjoyable and features the iconic stage direction "Exit, pursued by a bear". The main plot of "The Winter's Tale" is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance "Pandosto" (1588), but let me tell you that Shakespeare actually made some sensible changes, like cutting out the sub-plot of a father lusting after his daughter. Probs to homeboy for that. ;) "The Winter's Tale" is essentially a tale about the King of Sicilia, Leontes, and how his jealousy leads to the destruction of his own life and family. Leontes is accusing his wife Hermione of cheating on him with his childhood buddy, Polixenes. Moreover, he accuses Hermione of treason, believing that she has been plotting his murder. After fruitlessly defending herself at the trial, Hermione gives birth to a daughter, and dies. Leontes refusing to acknowledge the child, orders Antigonus to abandoned it. This results in Perdita growing up away from court and being raised by a shepherd. While the title of the play might not stir any associations for readers today, Shakespeare's contemporary audience would have expected an old wives' tale or a "ghost story". The title would have emphasized the expectation that this play tells an incredible, not necessarily realistic story, which might display some things out of the ordinary – *coughs* like the resurrection of a character pronounced to be dead. ;) However, the play is called "The Winter's Tale" and not "A Winter's Tale", so Shakespeare might have had a particular story in mind. (?) At the beginning of Act II, Hermione begs her son Mamillius to tell her a story, and he replies: "A sad tale tale's best for winter. I have one/ Of sprites and goblins." (II.1.25) The story that he then begins to recount actually mirrors parts of the overarching play – Leontes becomes the man who "dwelt by the churchyard", and even the "sprites" are present in the vision that Antigonus has of the dead Hermione. Another interpretation, my favorite one to be quite honest, is that the title suggests that Leontes is creating winter within and around himself after losing his family. It definitely plays into the idea that this play is about the fragility of human happiness and how easily it can be snatched away. The first half of this play is predominantly destructive (Leontes accusing his wife, and her following death), whereas the second half is predominantly creative and restorative (his reunion with his family). The sudden and violent blows of fortune that struck Leontes, deepen and widen the play's image of life as a lasting storm – how suddenly winter may follow upon the joys of spring and summer. The most interesting observation that I took away from this play is the shift in Shakespeare's narrative in his later plays, compared to his earlier ones. The most remarkable feature of "The Winter's Tale" is its jump in time, cutting the play into two halves that are seperated by a period of 16 years. This is very unusal, a huge portion of his plays cover a period of a couple of days or months at most, but not years. I was really surprised to learn that Shakespeare might have written the role of the Chorus, Time, for himself. It is the Chorus who announces this jump in time at the beginning of Act IV, proclaiming that "Your patience this allowing, I turn my glass, and give my scene such growing", letting scholars believe that Shakespeare referred to his scene in the literal sense. It is a nice little theory, and I like picturing the Bard getting in on the action onstage as well. ;) Another narrative choice that sets "The Winter's Tale" apart from most of his earlier plays is that Shakespeare tried to rouse a feeling of wonder in his audience. Usually he lets his audience in on every secret, by passing on and showing them the vital pieces of knowledge to understand the plot at hand, plot twists really weren't his priority. In "The Winter's Tale" however, he does not merely decline to do so, he straight off tries to lead the audience utterly astray, (view spoiler)[by making Paulina proclaim the death of the Queen, even though the latter is still alive. (hide spoiler)] One interpretation of this play, that really blew my heads off, is that we may see in "The Winter's Tale" the whole scheme of Dante's Divine Comedy. Especially if we're focusing on Leontes' spiritual journey. In Acts I-III we are given the Inferno, the hell which Leontes builds in his own mind. This hell, this winter is created and sustained only by himself. Next, at the end of Act III and the beginning of Act V, we are given glimpses of the Purgatorio, Leontes sixteen year period of repentance and penance. And finally, in the remainder of Act V, we have the Paradiso in his reunion with daughter, wife and friend. I love this analysis because it shows what a universal story "The Winter's Tale" is, and I really love cross-textual studies. Overall, I really enjoyed how rich the story was and how many different interpretations it opened up. It won't become a favorite of mine, because it lacks humour and brilliance, but it's definitely a vital read nonetheless.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Puck

    “A sad tale’s best for winter.” And sad it is, because while this play is more known for its bear-exit, the story itself is pretty cold. Especially the first half has some painful parallels with present times: Leontes’ jealous delusions and Hermione’s cruel treatment bring the #MeToo-trials to my mind. Apollo’s oracle proving my wife’s innocence? Fake news! But where Leontes painfully shows what destruction a powerful mad man can cause – maybe they should perform this play at the White H “A sad tale’s best for winter.” And sad it is, because while this play is more known for its bear-exit, the story itself is pretty cold. Especially the first half has some painful parallels with present times: Leontes’ jealous delusions and Hermione’s cruel treatment bring the #MeToo-trials to my mind. Apollo’s oracle proving my wife’s innocence? Fake news! But where Leontes painfully shows what destruction a powerful mad man can cause – maybe they should perform this play at the White House? – the female characters never back down for anyone. Despite her suffering, Hermione’s rhetoric skills stay sharp, Perdita isn’t afraid to argue with a king for her love, and Paulina doesn’t even fear fire: she tells the harsh truth exactly like it is. Leontes: "I’ll ha’thee burnt!" Paulina: "I care not: it is an heretic that makes the fire, not she which burns in’t." Thankfully love, forgiveness and sheep rule the second half of the play. Even the loyalty of trickster Autolycus wins out against deceit: showing audiences that it’s never too late to change and be a good person. However, while I loved the characters and the themes of this play, the quality of the lines was not as good as I read in Shakespeare's other works. Compared with "The Tempest" (written around the same time), the words of the former take the story to a higher level. That elevation I missed here, but perhaps The Winter's Tale will truly show its magic once I see it performed. Therefore, I will for now give this tragi-comedic play 3,5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    An astonishing work, late Shakespeare at his best, maybe just prior to the Tempest. Best children's role in the canon, Mamilius. Perhaps the most jealous of all the Bard's jealous lovers and spouses, Leontes. The most innocent accused, Hermione. The best stage direction, "Exit pursued by a Bear." The best friendship turned sour. The best speech on flowers, Perdita's "Now my fairest friend, / I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might/ Become your time of day, and yours and yours,/...daf An astonishing work, late Shakespeare at his best, maybe just prior to the Tempest. Best children's role in the canon, Mamilius. Perhaps the most jealous of all the Bard's jealous lovers and spouses, Leontes. The most innocent accused, Hermione. The best stage direction, "Exit pursued by a Bear." The best friendship turned sour. The best speech on flowers, Perdita's "Now my fairest friend, / I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might/ Become your time of day, and yours and yours,/...daffodils, / That come before the swallow dares…lilies of all kinds,/ The fleur de luce being one…"(IV.4) This last, perhaps the worst line in all the canon, in a grand compendium speech. Then there is the Chorus, unique in the canon: "I am Time. I have passed" (as Amherst's T Baird said). Sixteen years between the first half and…Enough time for Perdita to grow from baby to Babe. (By the way, "Babe" is difficult to render into the Romance languages, like Italian: No, not "bimbo, or Bambina, or Tesoro.") Until the 18C, interest centered on Hermione, particularly the statue scene, but from the early 18C to the mid-19th, the play was performed "as a sheep-shearing festival"(176, Arden ed., 1986). Autolycus sings the famous "When daffodils begin to peer" which includes my fave line, "For a quart of ale is a dish for a king"(86). And though a thief, Autolycus has great insight into the Humperty-Dumpty White House. He says, "I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of the court [White House]"(IV.iii.85) Describes Sally Yates! And Comey? There is the riotous thievery of Autolycus…recently played to perfection by (Director) Fred Sullivan, Jr., at the Gamm Theater, Pawtucket RI (perhaps the best Shakespeare I have seen in 40 years, including many in England). The most famous historical Autolycus was in the 18C, Richard Yates, who later began the New Theatre in Birmingham (1773). And finally, there is the animation of art, the statue invigorated--a variation on the Renaissance topos. AS in every play by the Bard, one finds acute analysis of character and satire of leaders, as in IV.iii above, but also here, Paulina says of the hypersuspicious Leontes, "These dangerous, unsafe lunes i' th' king, beshrew them!"(II.2.30). As a student of lunar mapping and influence in the seventeenth century, I love madness termed "lunes," and I apply the word to the US would-be King Humperty-Dumpstery.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    One of Shakespeare's last four, this usually gets filed under Romance in the more modern anthologies, but you could just as easily file it under fustercluck. There's an underlying logic to this bifurcated tale, but I'm not sure I buy it. It's a sharply divided tragi-comedy. The first three acts are a compressed tragedy of Leontes, who puts the insane in insanely jealous. It's hurried, and despite hints that Leontes' masculine insecurities have festered for years, the violence of his reaction to One of Shakespeare's last four, this usually gets filed under Romance in the more modern anthologies, but you could just as easily file it under fustercluck. There's an underlying logic to this bifurcated tale, but I'm not sure I buy it. It's a sharply divided tragi-comedy. The first three acts are a compressed tragedy of Leontes, who puts the insane in insanely jealous. It's hurried, and despite hints that Leontes' masculine insecurities have festered for years, the violence of his reaction to an affair that exists only in his mind is tough to reconcile. So things go horribly-horribly wrong (yeah, I was surprised too). Then there's a bear attack. Then Father Time literally walks on stage before Act IV to say, "And then sixteen years pass. Poof!" Then there's a rowdy sheep-shearing in Bohemia. Then a statue of Leontes' long-dead wife comes to life on stage. Then everyone gets married. And each shift is about that jarring. The bear attack especially felt like the first time you see fangs in From Dusk Til Dawn--completely unexpected. There's certainly enough here to make me excited to reread it, but for now I think I'm doubting those folk who call this one of Shakespeare's greatest triumphs because he made so many improbable pieces work. So far, after one admittedly quick read, it isn't working.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This has quickly moved up to become one of my favorite Shakespeare play that I've read. It has a fairytale quality to it that I adored. And it definitely feels wintery which I loved. It has an interesting mix of tragedy and comedy, with a romantic ending, which reminds me a lot of The Tempest (another of my favorites). Very pleased to have read this one, and I can't wait to discuss it in lecture!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    You can see Shakespeare getting darker and darker as he ages. I would despair if I didn't know two of his best plays are still to come. One thing you do notice is that Shakespeare understands redemption. He offers it to even the worst tyrants. Not many writers are brave enough to that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keith Mukai

    Written near the very end of Shakespeare's run, this is a mature work from a mature writer. It has elements that are oddly light and somewhat comical but it's not quite a comedy. It's not a tragedy either. I think it's more a fairy tale about forgiveness late in life and magically being granted a second chance. This is wish-fulfillment from a writer who must have experienced a lot of personal pain. It's also the most heartfelt and insightful depiction of love and relationships that I' Written near the very end of Shakespeare's run, this is a mature work from a mature writer. It has elements that are oddly light and somewhat comical but it's not quite a comedy. It's not a tragedy either. I think it's more a fairy tale about forgiveness late in life and magically being granted a second chance. This is wish-fulfillment from a writer who must have experienced a lot of personal pain. It's also the most heartfelt and insightful depiction of love and relationships that I've seen in the Shakespeare plays. The tragedies don't have room for love and the comedies are just too simplistic and farcical to show any real insight (e.g. Much Ado About Nothing is charming but is exactly what the title professes). And don't even think about mentioning Romeo & Juliet; puppy love between a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old hardly qualifies as insightful. There's just something so sad about this fantasy. Even as beautiful, wonderfully uplifting events are occurring one senses a deep pain and regret from Shakespeare himself; the events depicted are just too beautiful, the forgiveness too perfect for such a thing to ever happen in the real world. The joy of this fictional world only underscores the pain and heartache and regret of the real world. Shakespeare's wish-fulfillment fantasy is glorious and devastating all at the same time. ps - I highly recommend the Signet Classics editions of all Shakespeare plays.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    I have drunk and seen the spider. One’s suspension of disbelief will be sorely tested here. The king of Sicily is a paranoid git. Was he always of this character or did he arrive at such by an untoward alignment of humors? Again, just go with it. The tyrant is convinced that his wife has been untrue. The king of Bohemia is the suspect. His wife is pregnant, a physical symbol of his being cuckolded. This is a comedy, right? He's allowed to fume and bellow, allowing a stage of fire and fury to pe I have drunk and seen the spider. One’s suspension of disbelief will be sorely tested here. The king of Sicily is a paranoid git. Was he always of this character or did he arrive at such by an untoward alignment of humors? Again, just go with it. The tyrant is convinced that his wife has been untrue. The king of Bohemia is the suspect. His wife is pregnant, a physical symbol of his being cuckolded. This is a comedy, right? He's allowed to fume and bellow, allowing a stage of fire and fury to persist through a trial and beyond with a flourish of Nixonian exactness . The accused flee and then the sunny Czech coast becomes the subsequent location as sixteen years have lapsed since the previous act, the interim allowing the child to have grown to a plot pivot. There’s a bear, a clown and several royals in disguise. There is an amazing of wooing where the natural character of the garden is discussed and explored. I was hoping for something akin to The Tempest and alas it didn’t happen.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    A beautiful queen named Hermione, resurrection, the oracle of Delphi, a jealous husband, someone trying to do good gets eaten by a bear, royalty does not know is royalty, love wants to conquer, happy end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Not one of the Bard's best efforts 15 June 2014 Some people have suggested that when it comes to very old, or even ancient literature, the fact that we still have it is testimony to the lasting quality of that work, and as such it should not be rated, or more aptly receive a low rating, because of that. Okay, I agree that this is certainly the case when it comes to a lot of the ancient literature that we have, but I also suggest that maybe some rubbish has also come down to us. Then there is also the question Not one of the Bard's best efforts 15 June 2014 Some people have suggested that when it comes to very old, or even ancient literature, the fact that we still have it is testimony to the lasting quality of that work, and as such it should not be rated, or more aptly receive a low rating, because of that. Okay, I agree that this is certainly the case when it comes to a lot of the ancient literature that we have, but I also suggest that maybe some rubbish has also come down to us. Then there is also the question of taste, meaning that while one may appreciate Homer, one may also believe that Virgil is just a load of propaganderous rubbish that should never have been preserved (though that is not necessarily my opinion). The thing with Shakespeare is that most of his works were preserved (though there is some debate over the exact nature of the allegedly lost play Loves Labour's Found), which means that not only do we have his timeless classics (such as Hamlet) we also have his rubbish, such as this play. Okay, I may be burnt at the stake by the Shakespearian Appreciation Society for suggesting that one of Shakespeare's plays was rubbish (though if they did that then they would have to burn every high school student who hates Shakespeare simply because they are forced to read him in school), but in the case of A Winter's Tale, I have to say that this is pretty much the case. Okay, we have some confusion with geography, considering there is a scene set on a beach in Bohemia. Yes, that's right, a beach in Bohemia. If you are wondering what is so bad about a beach in Bohemia, well, here is a map of Bohemia: [image error] Yep, that's right, it is land locked, and okay, you may suggest that it could be on a lake, or even a river, but since the main characters jumped on a ship and sailed to Bohemia, I get the impression that maybe, just maybe, the intention was to suggest that they were going across the sea. Okay, it would not be the first time that a major production company is a little (or a lot) loose with the truth – Hollywood does it all the time – and the audience probably didn't care, or didn't even realise (since a bulk of the audience were probably uneducated and illiterate), but because of this many of us have come to the conclusion that Shakespeare was not all that good with geography. Then there is the other aspect of the play that seemed to come right out of nowhere. Here we are, watching some guy deliver a speech (on a beach in Bohemia) and then put a baby in a chest, when all of the sudden, completely out of left field, comes this: Who proceeds to chase the character off stage, at which point a clown (or a fool, probably a fool, considering what he did) steps back onto the stage to tell the audience that he watched a bear run down the poor character and begin to rip him to pieces. (view spoiler)[Nope, no photo of a bear ripping a human to pieces. (hide spoiler)] Seriously, there are plays that maybe such an event would make sense, but then I have read a lot of Shakespearian comedies and having a bear come in from off stage to rip somebody apart off stage does not seem to work. In fact, this is a comedy (or is supposed to be one) which means nobody is supposed to die. However, in a way the play doesn't seem to know what it is, and nor does the writer. The play begins with a king fuming with rage over the perception that maybe his wife has cheated on him, and he gets angrier and angrier until he reaches a point where he has effectively alienated everybody that he knows and loves. Then the play takes a dramatic shift from this very dark and tragic atmosphere and throws it into the idyllic atmosphere of the common person, and takes the different theme of the person of royal blood growing up among the common people and having no idea of their heritage, until it is suddenly revealed to them later on in the play. Finally, you have the last scene, which simply seems to be tacked on, where the wife, who we first thought was dead, turns out not to be dead, but is in fact a statue, and after the whole scene of the king moaning over how bad he had been and how unfair he had treated his wife, boom, suddenly she is no longer a statue, but back to her former self. As I said at the beginning, not one of his best plays.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    This is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays. It's like a fairy tale that is pagan in setting but Christian in its themes, which include guilt, repentance, redemption, resurrection, forgiveness, grace,and love. There are, in a sense, two plays here, divided by the passage of time. The first play ends with the stage note, "Exit, pursued by a bear." This time through, I listened to the audio production from my Arkangel Complete Shakespeare set. An added benefit of this audio--Ciaran Hines plays This is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays. It's like a fairy tale that is pagan in setting but Christian in its themes, which include guilt, repentance, redemption, resurrection, forgiveness, grace,and love. There are, in a sense, two plays here, divided by the passage of time. The first play ends with the stage note, "Exit, pursued by a bear." This time through, I listened to the audio production from my Arkangel Complete Shakespeare set. An added benefit of this audio--Ciaran Hines plays Leontes, and Sir John Guilgud represents Time. I also have a video of the BBC production, featuring Sir Patrick Stewart.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This is one of the more bizarre plotlines. With bizarre characters. Which don't fit together. The plot doesn't quite cobble enough for me. It's like a puzzle, where the edges of the pieces sort of lay on top of each other, instead of locking together. So you end up with Niagara Falls falling off backwards on the picture. There are some interesting statements made here, and a few scenes of good fun... but if you're going to read some Shakespeare? There are many other ones to read first.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Len Evans Jr

    Picking up tis play to read I knew absolutley nothing about it other than having heard it's name. I have to say I am glad I took a chance on the unknown because this play was truly a pleasure to read. Once I got used to the English used in it reading it became almost melodic in my head. There is no doubt Shakespeare knew how to make words dance. This play almost feels like it should be two separate plays since they are so very different in feel. The first half a tragedy and the sequel a romance. Picking up tis play to read I knew absolutley nothing about it other than having heard it's name. I have to say I am glad I took a chance on the unknown because this play was truly a pleasure to read. Once I got used to the English used in it reading it became almost melodic in my head. There is no doubt Shakespeare knew how to make words dance. This play almost feels like it should be two separate plays since they are so very different in feel. The first half a tragedy and the sequel a romance. I feel like Shakespeare wrote this play as sort of an homage to the Greek classics. if that was his intent, then I have to say he succeeded very well indeed. I loved that even with all the flowery language (multiple times requiring me to look up words) he quickly managed to start the film projector in my head I was seeing the action happening in my head. Truly a classic and I am so thrilled that my first foray into Shakespeare unknown to me was such a resounding success!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I remember listening to my 12th grade english teacher explain why he didn't like the book. It has too much, he said. The romance and the lost child and the political intrigue and the clown and magic. But that's exactly why I love it: the giant jumble of everything Shakespeare loved to explore. I love the surprisingly strong and well-developed female characters. I love the story and the wild adventures that happen, but which are all grounded in an emotional story about love, family and regret. Pe I remember listening to my 12th grade english teacher explain why he didn't like the book. It has too much, he said. The romance and the lost child and the political intrigue and the clown and magic. But that's exactly why I love it: the giant jumble of everything Shakespeare loved to explore. I love the surprisingly strong and well-developed female characters. I love the story and the wild adventures that happen, but which are all grounded in an emotional story about love, family and regret. Perhaps The Winter's Tale doesn't have the tragic weight of Lear or Hamlet, but it's always my favorite to read.

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