Chris's Reviews > The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
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Oct 12, 07

Read in October, 2007

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.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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David Very close to my own feelings. I read it before many years ago, but an impression on me it did not make. It was like reading it for the first time.

It is called The Winter's Tale, even though winter does not figure, because (in my view) it was something of a filler for Shakespeare's acting company during the winter months. It would probably have been performed not in a theatre but in some great patron's household so as to give recompense for the company's keep.

In winter people are not particularly looking for great, involving drama - they have festivities, and other entertainments arranged. This little ditty of a play would have been ideal for providing a couple of hours diversion on a cold evening. The Shakespearean equivalent of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.


Chris That's context I can appreciate. It helps explain why this feels so unfinished/unpolished. Thanks for providing it.


David You're welcome, Chris.


Judith Gilpin I think u need to see a really great production.


message 5: by El Galan (new) - added it

El Galan Clearly. This play was written by the Producer's of LOST


Chris El Galan for the win.


David Sarkies I have to agree with you on the comment about the bear. It certainly does come out of nowhere (though the Fangs in Dusk til Dawn deliver much more of a punch). I certainly have not encountered anybody yet who has managed to weave Tarantino into a Shakespearian play.


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