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Cymbeline

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,771 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews

This is the first new, full-scale edition of Cymbeline in 37 years. One of Shakespeare's final works, Cymbeline uses virtuoso theatrical and poetic means to dramatize a story of marriage imperiled by mistrust and painfully rebuilt in the context of international conflict. Roger Warren's commentary emphasizes the play's theatrical impact and pays close attention to its comp

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Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 30th 1965 by Penguin Classics (first published 1623)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Hailey (HailsHeartsNyc)
I should've had this read 2 weeks ago seeing as my final is this Saturday but oh well, better late than never! This was alright. Not my favourite, not my least favourite. It doesn't really stand out, it's just average.
Bill  Kerwin

I've read this play three times, and I've found that the longer the time that has elapsed since I last read it, the better I imagine it to be. In theory, it's a great play: the political situation, involving the tribute an emerging British nation must pay to a "Roman" empire has interesting Jacobean parallels in continental politics involving a "Roman" Church; the theological implications, the way Shakespeare finds a place for compassion in the merciless world of Lear's gods and flies, is instru
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Corbin
Feb 22, 2009 Corbin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine that characters from previous plays have ganged up on Shakespeare and threatened to sue him for libel--clearly, they would never behave in the way he suggests. They demand the real story be told. He offers a compromise: rather than go to the trouble and expense of rewrites and retractions, he will write a special play, just for them, and not interfere at all in the execution of plot. In fact, the deus ex machina gets to be a character too, since it was threatening to report him to OSHA o ...more
*** Blue Coltrane
Until last sunny days and as long as I live,
I will come true, perfume your tomb of the most beautiful flowers of summer:
The flower that resembles what had your face, pale primrose,
Do not miss; or hyacinth, were cerulean as your veins,
Neither the sheet rose hip floral, balmy least that was your sweet breath.
Liz BooksandStuff
Nov 02, 2015 Liz BooksandStuff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No one dies, a guy named Posthumus marries the king’s daughter without permission, and then Jupiter comes down from heaven and shouts at people what the hell is going on.
Rick
Jan 26, 2008 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Lesser Shakespeare is still great poetry, wonderful dialogue and imaginative set pieces and very entertaining. Cymbeline has more improbable elements than several Shakespeare plays combined, including divine intervention, a woman disguised as a man, royal sons thought dead, a father who forbids his daughter to wed a worthy man whom she loves so she might marry an unworthy man she loathes, an evil step-mother, a naïve wager to test true love, a sister stumbling into the care and immediate affecti ...more
Vane J.
Imogen is the daughter of the king Cymbeline. She wants to marry a guy (Posthumus Leonatus), but her father wants her to marry another one. She secretly marries Posthumus, but Cymbeline banishes him. In his exile, he starts bragging about how chaste his wife is. This calls some men's attention. Well, to make a long story short, I'm just going to say that there are some lies, jealousy, mistakes and that in the end, there's a huge conflict to solve.

When I started this book, I thought it was going
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Ygraine
Apr 08, 2016 Ygraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
there is something deeply and wonderfully grotesque about cymbeline, a tragicomic creature jarringly disconnected from reality, taking narrative fragments from earlier works, chastity and fidelity denied, siblings lost and found, blind fathers and scheming wives, prophesies and war, and magnifying them, distorting them, turning them into something tangled, confused and confusing.
Cindy Rollins
Dec 02, 2015 Cindy Rollins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cymbeline, is not one of Shakespeare's best known plays but it certainly one of the easiest to read.

It mostly takes place in Roman-ruled Britain. It has an evil stepmother and her unworthy son, a princess, and prince and two lost princes. It has weird medicine, intrigue, and battles. It is full of interesting characters and happenings.

But most of all it is satisfying in the way it handles sin and repentance. Where there is repentance there is forgiveness for even the most heinous crimes. Where
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matt


I really enjoyed this one. I actually explained about half the plot to some of my co-workers (they asked! I swear!) and managed to interest them to the extent that they started to lean imperceptibly forward and start staring at a distant hole in the floor and nod, grunting little affirmative sounds of recognition as I laid out most of act 2 and 3...the important stuff, anyway. I ain't no freak.

I picked it up on whim because it wasn't one of Billy Shakes' more well-known texts and nobody really
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Alex Sarll
A genius died this week - but a genius who hadn't half put out some missable work in recent years. So too the genius who died 400 years ago today. My plan for the anniversary week was to find some kind of ranking of the plays, and read whichever one I didn't know that came highest. And here we are. John Pitcher's introduction makes a spirited case for Cymbeline, but for me the overwhelming impression is that the Bard hacked this one out when he was ill, or blocked, or simply couldn't be arsed. T ...more
Lucy
Jun 20, 2008 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Cymbeline is my favorite Shakespeare play. And I love Shakespeare, so that’s saying a lot. Really, what isn’t there to like in this Romance? It’s got star-crossed lovers, poison, war, cross-dressing, swordfighting, mistaken identities, a headless corpse, deaths, reunions, and some of the best and funniest lines Shakespeare ever wrote. Oh, not to mention the actual Deus Ex Machina. Does it get any better than that? No, I do not think it does.
sabisteb
Cymbeline gehört nicht zu den bekannten Stücken Shakespeares. Normalerweise ist das (für mich) ein Zeichen dafür, dass die Geschichte eher mäßig ist. Bisher traf das auch zu, nur in diesem Fall nicht.
Cymbeline spielt im Britannien zur Zeit der Römer. Cymbeline ist König von Britannien, der leider nur eine Tochter namens Imogen hat. Seine zweite Ehefrau, Imogens Stiefmutter, hat einen Sohn aus erster Ehe (kommt irgendwie bekannt vor, die klassische böse Stiefmutter). Nun muss Imogen einen Prinzen
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Shrimpshrub
Jun 14, 2007 Shrimpshrub rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The complete rejection of any pretense of plausability has a long and beautiful history.
Dan
Aug 23, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cymbeline is known as one of the "problem plays." It was classed as a tragedy in the First Folio and generally continues to be classed that way, but it's really defined by the way it bends genre. Like a History, it takes it's name for the King even though he doesn't play the lead role and is set in England (although the pagan England of Lear). Like a Comedy, it includes cross-dressing and mistaken identity and has three major concurrent narratives that reconcile at the end with a body count of o ...more
Sparrow
I like the unsuccessful Shakespeare plays because they feel like they were written by a human being, not a deity. I could probably write a better play than Henry V. (I looked up “Shakespeare’s worst play” on the Internet, and that was the first result.) As a matter of fact, George Bernard Shaw re-wrote this one, entitling it Cymbeline Refinished.

I always thought Cymbeline was a woman. Probably everyone did. In fact, he was a king, who ruled England circa 9-42 AD. But he barely appears in this st
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Jake
Aug 31, 2014 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, fiction
Cymbeline is a play named after a character who doesn't deserve to have a play named after him. Granted, Cymbeline has the most elegant and poetic name of any of the characters in the play. But who gives a damn what Cymbeline thinks? Answer: pretty much nobody else in the play. You might as well rename Romeo and Juliet after that Paris guy.

Okay, with that out of my system I will simply say that I enjoyed most of this play. Cymbeline has a lot of the well-tested devices audiences expect from a
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Kylie
Feb 15, 2015 Kylie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cymbeline is definitely one of Shakespeare's most underrated works. He takes a lot of plot devices that he used in his other plays, and combined them all to make this very entertaining, if slightly crazy, play.
John Pistelli
Oct 11, 2015 John Pistelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, early-modern
It seems obligatory when discussing Shakespeare’s late romance Cymbeline to begin with Samuel Johnson’s dismissal of it:
This play has many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the expense of much incongruity. To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility,
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Chris
Dec 09, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but disturbingly misogynistic. Things start badly with Princess Imogen punished for falling in love with Leonatus -- who is also nominally punished, but it sounds more like a European vacation. They get much worse when he gambles on her virtue, and again when a friend of Leonatus invades Imogen's room, robs her, and then lies about having sex with her. Leonatus orders Imogen killed.

Then everybody goes crazy and Cymbeline begins a pointless war against Rome. Leonatus feels remorse fo
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Ben Dutton
Cymbeline is a strange thing – it has many fans: hell, Tennyson had it buried with him! It has its detractors. It is something of a difficult play, for it is a complex beast, seemingly made up of parts of Shakespeare’s earlier works (switched identities here, faked deaths there), and glides between comedy and tragedy.

It is one of those works that I suspect improves upon a second reading. I’ve read it only once and it seemed there was so much going on, and such a vast cast of characters, subplot
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H
Perchance I see why E. Bishop favored this tragedy, which is kinda modern in its happy ending ("Nobly doom'd!" V.v.420). Imogen, unlike Desdemona or Hermione, responds to charges against her virtue with indignation, without simpering, for her vision is so taken by Leonatus that

I see before me, man; nor here, nor here,
Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them,
That I cannot look through. (III.ii.77-9)

and her ethical foundations are in the sanctity of his being: "The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus
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Jade Heslin
May 14, 2013 Jade Heslin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was actually a re-reading as I didn’t have time to fully enjoy this story when I was writing uni essays on it. Yuk.

Cymbeline is severely underrated and should be amongst Shakey’s most famous works. The characters are compelling, the storyline gripping and the language beautiful.
First of all take, Imogen –One of my favourite Shakepearean heroines – gutsy and bold, she dishonours her father (the King) by marrying the lowly Posthumous. Daddy finds out about this and goes mental, exiling Posthu
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Rachel Jackson
Cymbeline has a little of everything: strained familial relations, a bizarre love triangle, disguise and deceit and a war to top it all off. None of those things are particularly rare in a Shakespeare play, but the pace at which all of these things are introduced, complicated and resolved is so fast that none of them gets a chance to really develop long enough. Having read it only once thus far, I imagine it will be easier to understand everything the second and subsequent read-throughs.

Cymbelin
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Ben
Feb 26, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jealousy, deception, disguises, romance. The work has elements similar to many Shakespearean comedies, and to tragedies, like "Othello." But it is not really a tragedy so much as a romance. Like Desdemona in Othello, Imogen unfairly earns the wrath of Posthumus, but, unlike Othello, Posthumus orders Imogen killed rather than doing the wretched deed himself. Posthumus' servant Pisanio, rather than taking Imogen's life as he is ordered, warns her and directs her to safety. The play, unlike most Sh ...more
Rachi
La primera de Shakespeare que no me gusta. Creo que tiene muchas cosas que podrías ser prescindibles y odio que Imógena sea un personaje bello contra el que todos cometen faltas y ellas las soporte todas y al final las perdone. Final demasiado predecible donde la mala mala (la reina) es castigada, los menos malos (Joaquino) son perdonados por la hermandad de los hombres y los "buenos" regresan a la cima de la cadena del ser. Tiene cosas padres en la historia pero no me gustó como un todo.
Addy
Nov 05, 2015 Addy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
Despite its convoluted story—with an ending teetering on total parody (possibly intentional as Shakespeare may have been mocking his earlier devices)—"Cymbeline" is nevertheless intoxicating thanks to the character named Imogen. Here's a creation so faithful to her man that no vile or murderous advance from him can extinguish the burning love in her heart. Do such women even exist? That is the question. Soon to be adapted for the screen as an urban gang war epic by Michael Almereyda, and starrin ...more
Kevin
Jul 15, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, cen
...more
Shana
Mar 06, 2011 Shana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read or seen this play before, so I did the former in preparation for the latter. The language is more complex than most of his other plays, and it's not just the words and conventions over the centuries but the grammar and syntax as well. That plus the vignette-like treatment of the plot made me wonder if this late play of his was really a piece of juvenilia that he refashioned in later life. The structure of the play did kind of remind me of Marlowe's plays.

I have to say that I enjoy
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Michelle
I couldn't put it down - so many twists and turns and secret identities and evil villains and a wonderful heroine, Imogen, that made the whole story for me. Really, this play should have been called "Imogen" instead of "Cymbeline." My favorite image is her staying up all night reading in bed. A girl after my own heart.

"This story the world may read in me."

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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
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“Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownéd be thy grave!”
75 likes
“Hang there like a fruit, my soul, Till the tree die!

-Posthumus Leonatus
Act V, Scene V”
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More quotes…