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The Winters Tale

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  12,838 ratings  ·  459 reviews
(Applause Books). If there ever has been a groundbreaking edition that likewise returns the reader to the original Shakespeare text, it will be the Applause Folio Texts. If there has ever been an accessible version of the Folio, it is this edition, set for the first time in modern fonts. The Folio is the source of all other editions. The Folio text forces us to re-examine...more
Paperback, Applause First Folio Editions, 181 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers (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
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
Laurele
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Emily
It's hard for me to give a star rating and review for this play because I really don't have much experience with Shakespeare to have some in depth feelings or analysis on it. I did enjoy the story, even though everything worked out too perfectly--I guess it's suppose to since its a comedy.

I sometimes have a hard time relating to character's in Shakespeare because I feel like so many times they have such extreme emotions, like King Leontes in this tale, that they are always beyond reason and it...more
Thompson
One of the reasons I have fun reading Shakespeare in the 21st century is because when he is at his best his characters ring true despite the verse language and the chasm of culture and time separating them from a modern reader. Winter's Tale has some absolutely beautiful moments, but as a whole it fails to deliver. The pacing is out of whack, as other reviewers have noted, and some of the worst offenses of jerky progression stem from bizarre character behaviors, a double whammy of annoyance. Whi...more
Kirk
Happy 450th Bday Will!!!!!!!
Allison
I've reviewed The Winter's Tale on here before, but I would like to add that, for any class looking at adaptations of plays throughout history, this edition has an excellent essay about different stagings and adaptations of the play throughout history, including interviews and detailed descriptions of sets.
Liza Palmer
Okay. And after three disappointing plays, WE ARE BACK.

Two friends. Both kings. One friend visits the other. They're getting along awesome. And then Leontes decides that his friend King Polixenes and his wife - Hermione - are sleeping together and that his baby that is about to be born is actually his friend's.

Loved this speech when Leontes is trying to sell his friend Lord Camillo on poisoning Polixenes due to the supposed infidelity:

"Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeti...more
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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.” 186 likes
“Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.” 59 likes
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