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Winter's Tale

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  13,884 ratings  ·  500 reviews
Completely re-edited, the New Folger Library editions of Shakespeare's plays put readers in touch with current ways of thinking about Shakespeare. Each freshly edited text is based directly on what the editors consider the best early printed version of the play. Each volume contains full explanatory notes on pages facing the text of the play, as well as a helpful introduct ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 5th 1995 by Wordsworth Editions (first published 1609)
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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 then gets up an
...more
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.
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 ...more
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 ...more
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've seen in t
...more
Maxwell
This has quickly moved up to become 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!
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 ...more
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: MY WIFE IS A CHEATING WH
...more
Ea Solinas
"The Winter's Tale" is one of Shakespeare's most underrated works, probably because it can't be easily classified as a romance or a comedy. That's a shame, because this lush, emotionally-wrenching little play displays Shakespeare's powerful writing and fine grasp of human nature. It's just incredibly moving and exquisitely written.

Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, has been visiting his pal King Leontes in Sicilia, and eventually he wants to go home. But after Queen Hermione convinces him to stay
...more
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 ...more
Kelly
Jun 01, 2007 Kelly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore Shakespeare fans. This one is a bit more difficult to get into.
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.
Bruce
This is University of Virginia’s Professor Clare Kinney’s favorite Shakespeare play, and as she described it in her final Teaching Company lecture, she was clearly moved to tears. I recall having seen it at the Chicago Shakespeare in 2002 or 2004; it was good, and I was eager to experience it once again, this time, alas, only in the reading.

Act I details the dawning and development of Leontes’ baseless jealousy of his innocent wife, Hermione, and his best friend, Polixenes, a jealousy that threa
...more
James
Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is a bizarre, ranging comedy. The play jumps so lightly between slapstick and cruelty that it’s unclear whether it’s a dark farce, a bloody satire exposing the dangers of absolute power, or a moldy amalgam of cuckoldry, class, and misogyny.

The premise has a king baselessly charge his queen with infidelity. He believes she’s slept with his brother, who wisely flees a plot to murder him. Suspected adultery is a common hook for Shakespearean comedy, with misunderstan
...more
Ana Rînceanu
Adapted from Robert Greene's pastoral romance 'Pandosto', the play starts with Leontes, King of Sicilia, suspecting that his wife Hermione is having an affair with his childhood best friend Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. Chaos ensues as the king's jealousy destroys his friendship, marriage and family but we have a happy end, even if it's a little forced. It is a credit to the author's talent that he can make Leontes seem worthy again of happiness after enduring loss and pain for sixteen years. ...more
Eyehavenofilter
This is jealousy at its most insane. Reacting to an affair that exists only in his mind Leontes is out of his mind with jealousy. This is a cautionary tale for any young people out there, and can be used as a warning signal. Does your boyfriend exhibit any of these unacceptable behaviors, if so.....RUN LIKE HELL!
Cause in real life it doesn't end all nicey nice like the play! Usually someone gets hurt badly!
David Sarkies
Jun 16, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody really
Recommended to David by: Highschool
Shelves: romance
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 ...more
Dave
Jan 08, 2013 Dave marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: calibre, fiction
SUMMARY: One of the last plays Shakespeare penned on his own, The Winter’s Tale is a transcendent work of death and rebirth, exploring irrational sexual jealousy, the redemptive world of nature, and the magical power of art.Under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, this Modern Library series incorporates definitive texts and authoritative notes from William Shakespeare: Complete Works. Each play includes an Intro ...more
James
A very entertaining drama full of the predictable and the implausible.

Shakespeare can basically do no wrong, especially writing in blank iambic pentameter, which he, along with Milton, is the master of. Metaphors and similes feel quite dry and under-used in this present-day world. The cold, calculating confidence of our scientific speech, or the crude, fractured, and unconscious poetry of slang doesn't quite cut it in comparison to the mesmerizing shapes of sound that issue like marble figures
...more
Huda Aweys
Rich dramatic play ,
And in fact, I no longer see the so-called exaggerations in the synthesis of coincidences in the classic theater, Because I saw a lot of coincidences in the real life, what are the strangest much !
مسرحية غنية دراميا
و الحقيقة ، أنني لم اعد ارى مايدعى بالمبالغة فى اختلاق و اصطناع الصدف بالمسرح الكلاسيكي ، فقد رأيت في الحياة ، من الصدف ما هو اغرب و اعجب من ذلك بكثير !
Leslie
This is one of Shakespeare's plays I had never heard of until recently. It is considered one of his 'problem plays' because it starts off as a tragedy but has a happy ending. While I understand that this might present difficulties to actors & directors, I found the blend worked well for me (and I do love a happy ending!).

One thing that did bother me though was that I couldn't really figure out when it was supposed to be set. The King of Sicily is friends with the King of Bohemia but he also
...more
Kate
I really enjoyed this play because it was unlike any other Shakespeare play that I have read so far. It is a tragicomedy, so it began as a tragedy and ended as (somewhat) of a comedy. This becomes clear based on the time of year the play takes place. It begins during winter, a time of death and "decay" and ends during spring, a time of birth and renewal. I also liked how art represented a power that could bring things to life, like the sculpture of Hermione. Overall, I really liked this play bec ...more
Eddie Watkins
...or Loopy Bi-Polar Resurrection.

So odd, so spare in spots so dense in others, so ADD and flippant, so serious & coy, so acausal, that I need to read up to assure myself that Shakespeare intended all he wrought.

The play itself reads as if reconstituted after dismemberment by bear.

As my first read (3 days ago) yielded 3 stars, and my second (this morning) yielded 4, a 5th might be added anon.
Vane
It's a good thing when you start a book without having a clue about what is going to happen. Of course that is not a good idea, but when it comes to Shakespeare, that is not such a great risk.

Why do I say this? Because... because... because I didn't know a thing about this play, okay? I was looking at the index of the copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and I saw that name. It caught my attention and I started reading it.

What it The Winter's Tale about? Well, again we have some mis
...more
Phillip
This is one of those Shakespeare plays where there are really good bits to it, but overall it's not spectacular. There are some beautiful speeches and stuff, but the story itself isn't terribly interesting and the characters aren't compelling. I think the biggest problem with the characters is that they are always blowing everything way out of proportion, especially the two kings. Eliot should have critiqued this play for lacking an objective correlative. I mean, suspecting the queen of infideli ...more
Stephanie Marie
Does this play deserve 4 stars based solely on Shakespeare's name? For whatever reason, it ended up with 4 rather than 3 stars (come on, 3 would be an insult to my darling William). The Winter's Tale deserves 4 stars for 4 reasons:

1) It is THE bastard child of Shakespeare. It is so hilariously hybrid that it is stunningly unique. That said, the characters were a little one-note, but it was pretty easy to fly through.

2) The infamous stage direction: "exeunt, pursued by a bear." The fact that this
...more
Jann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
melanie
Shakespeare: Hmm. "Content. 'Tis strange"... In fact, don't care much at all for it (hence all the histories I just retold, the plays I plagiarized from others). Honestly, I'm just bored by form– all tragedies and comedies have the same predictable stories.
Oh, I've got it: I'll write a play that begins as a tragedy–let's set it in winter because "a sad tale's best for winter" (2.1.25)– but halfway through, I'll come out on stage dressed up as Time, holding an hourglass, and re-do the whole play
...more
Matt
It’s Othello-lite. Jealousy without the evil and a focus on redemption instead of despair. Shakespeare starts by leading in with two Acts of tragedy then spins it into a romantic, sort of funny, comedy. It’s a pretty bold switch-up and it fits in with some of the other problem plays like Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida better than either the tragedies or comedies.

Autolycus steals the show in the way that only a good-natured rogue can. “Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometime
...more
Abigail Hartman
"The Winter's Tale" did not turn out to be my favorite work of Shakespeare. The passage of sixteen years between Acts III and IV, and the introduction of new characters in the latter, gave the play a choppy and incomplete feel. The cast seemed larger than necessary, for several characters served almost no purpose whatsoever, and I cannot say I found myself invested in any of them; no one character - save perhaps Paulina, who could be downright irritating - was ever dwelt upon long enough for the ...more
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Performance 1 18 May 25, 2009 11:35AM  
  • Edward II
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, 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" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
More about William Shakespeare...
Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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“Exit, pursued by a bear.” 198 likes
“Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.” 62 likes
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