The Winter's Tale

Overview

"The Winter's Tale is Shakespeare's most perfectly realized tragi-comedy, as notable for its tragic intensity as for its comic grace and, throughout, for the richness and complexity of its poetry. It concludes, moreover, with the most daring and moving reconciliation scene in all Shakespeare's plays." Though the title may suggest an escapist fantasy, recent criticism has seen in the play a profoundly realist psychology and a powerful commentary on the violence implicit in family relationships and deep, long-lasting friendships. Stephen Orgel's
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The Winter's Tale

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Overview

"The Winter's Tale is Shakespeare's most perfectly realized tragi-comedy, as notable for its tragic intensity as for its comic grace and, throughout, for the richness and complexity of its poetry. It concludes, moreover, with the most daring and moving reconciliation scene in all Shakespeare's plays." Though the title may suggest an escapist fantasy, recent criticism has seen in the play a profoundly realist psychology and a powerful commentary on the violence implicit in family relationships and deep, long-lasting friendships. Stephen Orgel's edition considers the play in relation to Renaissance conceptions of both dramatic genre and the family, traces the changing critical and theatrical attitudes towards it, and places its psychological and dramatic conflicts within the Jacobean cultural and political context. The commentary pays special attention to the play's linguistic complexity, and the edition also includes a complete reprint of Shakespeare's source, Pandosto, by Robert Greene.

An abridged version of Shakespeare's play, in which a party of nobles is washed ashore on a mystical island, summoned by a former noble turned magician.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prospero-like in their artistry, Spirin's dazzling watercolors dominate this retelling of Shakespeare's final play. Shaped like altar panels fit for a Renaissance church or palace, the illustrations are romantic, regal and magical, richly interpreting the play's themes of betrayal, revenge and all-conquering love. A wispy ethereal air pervades island scenes, beautifully suggesting the atmosphere of enchantment, while Antonio and the King of Naples are pictured in brocade and velvet, the stench of power upon them. The other characters, too, are both otherworldly and very much flesh and blood. Especially well rendered is the monster Caliban, shown here as part man, part beast, part mythical creature, a sense of evil glee lighting his features. While this prose adaptation does not, of course, retain the full magic of the Bard's work, Beneduce nonetheless provides an intelligent, gripping story. Several passages from Shakespeare introduced at key points give a taste of the original. Symbols and small pictures integrated into the text further enhance the lavish presentation. All ages. (Mar.)
VOYA - Patti Sylvester Spencer
This edition of the play, part of the Oxford School Shakespeare series, presents Shakespeare's unabridged tragicomedy with thorough supplementary notes (parallel to script), vocabulary, and brief scene synopses. Scattered pen/ink sketches illustrate a few scenes. Large pages might make this paperback more reader-friendly than some. A lengthy commentary introducing the play could be useful to students already familiar with it. Following the text of the play, the editor discusses source material, demonstrating Shakespeare's use of borrowed ideas. Several paragraphs of criticism inform students how readers/viewers from Samuel Johnson (1765) to Harold C. Goddard (1951) viewed the play. Supplementary material includes a nineteenth century actress sharing ideas about working on the play with famed actor Macready, and a musical score for songs in the play. Ten pages titled Classwork and Examinations offer a variety of traditional teaching methods for instructors (discussion, character study, essays, etc.) The volume closes with a frank biographical sketch of Shakespeare, which admits to the dearth of facts and the necessary speculation. Illus. Source Notes. Chronology. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Shakespeare comes to picture books beautifully when Ann Beneduce retells the complex story of The Tempest in a way that's understandable to children. She's helped by the very classic looking illustrations of Gennady Spirin, who captures the magic of spirits and beasts.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The Tempest becomes accessible to children through the retelling skill of Bruce Coville and the glowing illustrations of Sanderson. This fairy tale of magic and love, demons and spirits, has much to attract today's children and to introduce them to the works of the master.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
With clever interplay of original dialogue and adapted text, the bard's immortal work is here transformed into a charming "once-upon-a-time" tale. Purists might bemoan the deletion of lines, verses, even whole scenes, but no one can complain that the spirit of the play has not been faithfully transmitted. It has been transmitted with grace and elegance, moreover, and with an acute perception of a young reader's capabilities. Spirin's illustrations are exquisite.
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Shipwrecks, storms at sea, magicians, sorcerers, revenge, love, all these and more take place in Shakespeare's play The Tempest which John Escott brings to life for young people. Readers will come to understand Propsero, the former Duke of Milan, who was cast out to sea with his young daughter by Antonio. They arrived at a mysterious island filled with magical characters. Prospero causes a tempest that shipwrecks Antonio and his young son Ferdinand on the same island that has been Prospero and daughter Miranda's home. Through the pages of this beautiful adaptation, we watch Prospero take revenge, but in the end come to terms with his magic and those who had done him wrong. Accompanied with exquisite pictures of the different characters and the conflicts, The Tempest comes alive in this version.
VOYA - Roxy Ekstrom
This book is designed to help students read a play written in an English used 350 years ago-but the reader has to get to page 105 among the appendices to learn the book's intended audience. This information would have been more helpful as an introduction, instead of the offbeat one found here. The book's strength lies in its page-by-page notes that explain difficult words, archaic phrases, and historical/literary allusions. An occasional note may be more than the student wants, but most are useful without being dumbed-down. The notes are also helpfully placed alongside the text rather than at the bottom of the page, a feature students might like if they are not put off by the resultant double-column appearance.

While the notes should be useful to students at any grade level, the appended material, both introductory and supplementary, is marked by style and vocabulary making it suitable only for the most advanced and/or interested high school or undergraduate students. Among the appendices is a modern poem with no explanation for its inclusion, and no identification of the poet whose poem does allude to the The Tempest. One gets the impression of a mountain of unrelated three-by-five cards being used, with no effort to bridge them together. A long appendix titled "Classwork and Examination," which is a collection of very good ideas for teachers, is strangely addressed to students.

The cover features a fine color photograph of Sweden's Max Von Sydow as Prospero and Rudi Davies as Miranda, but one wonders if a picture of the young lovers or Caliban the monster would have been more appealing to young readers. Students could make good use of this book by ignoring most of the scholarly appendages and using the excellent footnotes to elucidate one of the most enjoyable of Shakespeare's profound works. Illus. Charts. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. Appendix.

VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA rea

School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-The play is set circa 1610. Spirin expands Beneduce's retelling by basing his lavish watercolors on Italian Renaissance paintings. Though the pages are carefully framed, highly ornate, and formally structured, there is plenty of leeway for individual imagination to make itself felt. Ariel is a decorative Renaissance angel. Caliban is given piscine characteristics and expressions that evoke the longing as much as the brutishness in his character. And the human characters have the complexity of portraits. Spirin's illustrations highlight the fantastic while Ruth Sanderson's landscapes for Bruce Coville's version of the play (Doubleday, 1994) focus on the effects of nature. Both are valid. Coville's simpler retelling is easier to follow. Beneduce, too, eliminates some of the subplots in order to avoid confusion, but her fuller text manages to incorporate most of the romantic, magical, and political elements. Within the main text, she modernizes the dialogue. This works smoothly for the most part, though it's hard to see how "What a wonderful new world I am about to enter..." is an improvement over "O brave new world..." A few passages of original text are set off in isolated frames, for a sense of the poetry. Readers and potential playgoers will need to see the play performed to experience the comic scenes of Caliban and his cronies. Brief appendixes explain the context in which the play was written and the reteller's choices and give an overview of Shakespeare's life. This is a case in which an acceptably graceful text plays a supporting role to the illustrations. They are worth the price of admission.-Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Beneduce (A Weekend With Winslow Homer, 1993, etc.) retells Shakespeare's play in a text that reads like a fairy tale.

This version emphasizes first the love story between Miranda and Ferdinand and then Prospero's forgiveness of his enemies. Some of the subplots have been eliminated (for reasons given in a careful author's note), but several songs and speeches have been folded into the story, much of which is told in dialogue. Spirin's beautiful watercolors are done in the manner of Renaissance paintings, even to the effect of old varnish affecting the tones. The scenes echo the narrative's focus on the enchantments of the play, presenting beasts worthy of Hieronymous Bosch and gentle spirits to rival the angels of Botticelli. This gorgeous picture book will be particularly useful in high school collections, for the story in the art sets the stage for this Renaissance drama. Recommended for public and school libraries: Not only does it work as a read-alone story but will prepare theatergoers for a performance of the full play.

From the Publisher
"Aimed at a more scholarly audience, the New Cambridge Shakespeare produces superb editions that rank with the Arden and the Oxford as the best in the business. This year’s The Winter’s Tale is no exception. Edited by the late Susan Snyder and Deborah T. Curren-Aquino, this edition has a lucid and intelligent introduction that covers all of the crucial elements of this complicated late play: genre; Leontes’ jealousy; the bear; Time; act V and the ending. There is also a fascinating discussion of the revision theory—Forman did not mention the statue scene in his 1611 account of the play, after all—but the edition decides against the theory, in spite of Snyder’s having made the most eloquent case for it in 2002. There is a very useful discussion of sources, the notes to the play are exemplary, and the Selected Reading list is both excellent and up-to-date. Although the appendix concentrates on performance issues (Forman’s notes on the play, doubling possibilities, key staging choices, a performance chronology), the edition is notable for its blend of textual and performance discussions. Especially effective is the decision to match photographs of the play in performance with the thematic issues under discussion. The visual variations on the statue scene are especially welcome and will be a boon in the classroom. Finally, although it has become fashionable in recent years for critics, editors, and directors to darken the ending, this edition opts for ambiguity rather than pessimism and seems truer to The Winter’s Tale’s hybrid, tragicomic spirit as a result."
-Studies in English Literature, Spring 2008
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451527141
  • Publisher: Signet Classics
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Series: Signet Classic Shakespeare Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 411,115
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) - 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories and these works remain regarded as some the best work produced in these genres even today. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as "not of an age, but for all time."

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century.

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Read an Excerpt


INTRODUCTION TO THE KITTREDGE EDITION

For the text of The Winter’s Tale our sole authority is the First Folio. In style and meter, tone and dramatic method, the play reveals itself as one of Shakespeare’s latest works. Perhaps it followed Cymbeline and preceded The Tempest.

On May 15, 1611, Simon Forman, astrologer and physician, saw The Winter’s Tale at the Globe. His summary of the plot, in his own handwriting, is still preserved. If either the bear (3.3.58) or the dance of satyrs (4.4.352) was suggested by Ben Jonson’s masque of Oberon, which was exhibited at court on the first day of that same year, the limits of composition are fixed with almost uncanny precision. The bear, however, is not a very trustworthy witness, even if Oberon’s chariot is drawn by two white bears. The evidence of the satyrs is more satisfactory, for three of Shakespeare’s “saltiers” had “danced before the king.” At all events, 1611 is a satisfactory date for The Winter’s Tale.

The source of the main plot is Robert Greene’s 1588 novel Pandosto: The Triumph of Time. Greene takes pains to describe the jealousy of Pandosto as to all intents and purposes insane. “A certain melancholy passion entering the mind of Pandosto drove him into sundry and doubtful [i.e. suspicious] thoughts.” These, “a long time smoothering in his stomach, began at last to kindle in his mind a secret mistrust, which increased by suspicion, grew at last to be a flaming jealousie, that so tormented him as he could take no rest.” These phrases accord with Shakespeare’s account of Leontes. He is not, as a modern critic has called him, “an irritable, suspicious, jealous-natured tyrant.” The whole atmosphere of the court—which is like a happy family—shows that he is no tyrant, and the perplexity of Hermione and Polixenes proves that he has never shown jealousy before. His paroxysm of jealous fury is virtually a fit of madness. It seizes him in a moment, and it releases him with equal suddenness. . . .

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Plan of the Work ix
The Winter's Tale: Text, Textual Notes, and Commentary 1
Appendix
Irregular, Doubtful, and Emended Accidentals in F1 567
Unadopted Conjectures 569
The Text
Authenticity 586
The 1623 Version of The Winter's Tale 586
The F1 Copy 590
Crane's Copy 598
Crane's Reliability 600
The Printer's Reliability 601
Subsequent Early Editions 601
The Date of Composition
External Evidence 602
Internal Evidence 609
Summary 615
Sources
Primary Source
Pandosto 616
Shakespeare's Use of Pandosto 656
General Indebtedness 656
Genre 668
Characters 670
Other Sources
Robert Greene's Cony-Catching Pamphlets 672
The Second and last Part of Conny-catching 673
The Thirde and last Part of Conny-catching 673
Francis Sabie's Poems 674
The Fissher-mans Tale 674
Flora's Fortune 675
Possible Sources, Analogues, and Imitations 680
Criticism
General Assessments 702
Genre 717
Themes and Significance 728
Time's Mutability 728
Nature (and Art) 730
Repentance and Renewal 738
Drame a Clef 742
Technique 745
Structure 745
Language and Style 753
Characters 761
Antigonus 761
Autolycus 762
Camillo 768
Florizel 770
Hermione 771
Leontes 775
Mamillius 785
Paulina 786
Perdita 792
Polixenes 796
Shepherd and Clown 797
The Winter's Tale on the Stage
Performances 798
Staging the Bear and Time 816
Screen and Sound Recordings 818
The Text on the Stage 819
The Versions 819
Reshaping the Text 826
Cuts 826
Substitutions, Transpositions, and Additions 840
Music in the Winter's Tale 851
Bibliography 875
Index 933
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First Chapter

HERMIONE, Queen of Sicilia
MAMILLIUS, their son
PERDITA, their daughter

POLIXENES, King of BOHEMIA
FLORIZELL, his son

CAMILLO, a courtier, friend to Leontes and then to Polixenes ANTIGONUS, a Sicilian courtier
PAULINA, his wife and lady-in-waiting to Hermione
CLEOMENES courtier in Sicilia
DION courtier in Sicilia
EMILIA, a lady-in-waiting to Hermione

SHEPHERD, foster father to Perdita
SHEPHERD'S SON
AUTOLYCUS, former servant to Florizell, now a rogue ARCHIDAMUS, a Bohemian courtier

TIME, as Chorus

TWO LADIES attending on Hermione
LORDS, SERVANTS, and GENTLEMEN attending on Leontes
An OFFICER of the court
A MARINER
A JAILER
MOPSA shepherdess in Bohemia
DORCAS shepherdess in Bohemia

SERVANT to the Shepherd

SHEPHERDS and SHEPHERDESSES
Twelve COUNTRYMEN disguised as satyrs


ACT 1

Scene 1
Enter Camillo and Archidamus.

ARCHIDAMUS If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.

CAMILLO I think this coming summer the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.

ARCHIDAMUS Wherein our entertainment shall shame us; we will be justified in our loves. For indeed --

CAMILLO Beseech you --

ARCHIDAMUS Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge. We cannot with such magnificence -- in so rare -- I know not what to say. We will give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.

CAMILLO You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.

ARCHIDAMUS Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.

CAMILLO Sicilia cannot show himself over kind to Bohemia. They were trained together in their childhoods, and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made separation of their society, their encounters, though not personal, hath been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies, that they have seemed to be together though absent, shook hands as over a vast, and embraced as it were from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves.

ARCHIDAMUS I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young Prince Mamillius. It is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note.

CAMILLO I very well agree with you in the hopes of him. It is a gallant child -- one that indeed physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh. They that went on crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to see him a man.

ARCHIDAMUS Would they else be content to die?

CAMILLO Yes, if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.

ARCHIDAMUS If the King had no son, they would desire to five on crutches till he had one.

They exit.

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2001

    After the fair tale ends.

    It begins as the perfect ending to a fairy tale. Everyone is in love, and is living happily ever after. And then jealousy begins its evil spin. The king accuses his wife of being unfaithful and orders her to be put to death. Will the king realize the error of his ways before it is too late?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2004

    One of Shakespeare's best

    This play is absolutely brilliant! Despite its facade of being set in a fantasy land, the emotions behind the characters are very realistic. There is even humor embeded in all the drama and anguish, most especially played out in the 'begger' Autolycus. A must read for all who love drama.

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