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The Winter's Tale

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  25,438 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews
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The New Cambridge Shakespeare appeals to students worldwide for its up-to-date scholarship and emphasis on performance. The series features line-by-line commentaries and textual notes on the plays and poems and an extensive introduction. The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's most varied, theatrically self-conscious,
Paperback, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, 279 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1623)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare
The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare originally published in the First Folio of 1623. The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588.
Shakespeare's changes to the plot are uncharacteristically slight, especially in light of the romance's undramatic nature, and Shakespeare's fidelity to it gives The Winter's Tale its most distinctive feature: the sixteen-year gap between the third an
Something for Shakespeare In The Park, maybe?

“Good my Lord, be cured of this diseased opinion, and betimes, for ‘tis most dangerous.”

That is the well-meant advice Camillo gives the delusional King Leontes, whose whims and flawed imagination are about to destroy his family and his kingdom. Needless to say, the all-powerful king does not listen. The drama unfolds with predictably disastrous effects, as the most powerful person is at the same time the most self-indulgent, paranoid and mentally und
Bill Kerwin
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing

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.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
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
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Irreverent dreamers
“A sad tale’s best for winter”

An incredible potpourri of comedy, tragedy and fantasy that once again defies categorization. Dramatic realism comes through in the form of an obsessively jealous king, reminiscent of well-known Othello, the complex relationships between parents and children, as in King Lear or Hamlet, mystical resonance in Greek legends that contemplate sculptures turning into human beings, recalling the Christian concept of resurrection, and a lush, floral poetry that evokes the r
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays

Image of Dench and Branagh, 2016:

Reviews of audio books count, so I guess watching a play should, too. Perhaps more so, as that was the author's intended medium.

I saw a stage production of The Winter's Tale a few days after finishing Jeanette Winterson's modern novelisation, The Gap of Time, which I reviewed HERE.

My mother tells me I saw the play in my late teens, but I have no memory of it. My knowledge of the plot was from Winterson's summary and then
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This is a story of male friendship. We have the king of Sicily, Leontes, and the king of Bohemia, Polixenes indulging their fondness for each other. From the very outset, we see how these two friends socialize and enjoy the pleasures of being together. Even if they both have wives in tow (however, Prolixness is visiting Leontes without his queen), it is still a queer friendship. For instance, they both are kings, but Polixenes have the time to spend nine months with Leontes. Conventionally, this
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ambitious bears
Shelves: 2016
"Exit, pursued by a bear" is the most famous stage direction in literature. It comes here in Winter's Tale, at the end of Act III, and it's famous because it's funny.

And the really funny thing is it's been a hella dark play until this moment. What happened is King Leontes has become suddenly and irrationally convinced that his wife is cheating on him (like Othello, with some Lear), so he thinks his infant daughter isn't his, so he orders her exposed in the wilderness to die, and the guy who dro
da AL
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The BBC does an amazing job with this audiobook. As for the story, I really wish the king had gotten far more of comeuppance for his bad behavior.
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
Book Review
I will begin this review of The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare by saying a few things to keep it in context:

1. I read this play back in my junior year of college as part of my Shakespeare course. The course was 15 weeks long and held on Saturday mornings at 9am. I had no option but to take it at this time. As a junior, even though I was quite studious, I also liked to have some fun... and Friday nights were a key period of fun... I may or may not (no confessions here
Cindy Rollins
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, 20for2020reads
You can see Shakespeare getting darker and darker as he ages. I would despair if I didn't know two of his best plays are still to come.

One thing you do notice is that Shakespeare understands redemption. He offers it to even the worst tyrants. Not many writers are brave enough to that.

#20for2020reads A Shakespeare Play 1
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I read this in High School last, I believed that I loved it more than all the other Shakespeare plays combined, and it still holds a ton of charm for me now, although not quite as much as before.

For one, the thief was slightly more annoying than as a charming plot device.

For another, it's hard to believe that even divorce could be so reconciled. :)

Granted, this is an almost magical divorce, so why not ramp up the reconciliation to wipe away the tragedy of a child's death, the loss of the ne
“It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she which burns in't.”

- Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale


It starts out as a problem play and ends up a problematic, pastoral mess. First, I should disclose, and probably have before, that I'm not a fan of Shakespeare's plays with songs. I'd even complain about the songs in A Midsummer Nights Dream if it wasn't such a damn fine play. But my main issue with this play isn't the music, the play is just uneven. It starts off crazynuts (in a good way): a mad/je
Dec 27, 2011 rated it liked it
“Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction is perhaps the most famous, or infamous, stage direction in drama.

Beyond the odd line, this is a fun, meaningful play and one of The Bard’s more unusual dramatic comedies.

The story of a jealous husband falls far short of Othello, both in scale and in depth. This has moments, Hermione's soliloquy, Antigone's plea to Leontes, but also very disjointed and with a crazy ending! (and apparently geography was not an exact science back
Alan Allis
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favourite plays. Probably in my top 5 Shakespeare plays. Very beautiful and well-written.
Oct 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, poetry
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
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: Eve Best, Danny Sapani and Shaun Dooley star in the magical product of the Bard's later years. Treading new dramatic ground The Winter's Tale embraces tragedy, poetry, folklore, magic realism, music, comedy and the infamous stage direction "exit pursued by a bear".

Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Winter's Tale" is a play by William Shakespeare, originally published in the First Folio of 1623, it was possibly written in 1610 or 1611. Labelling this play is not easy – it features elements of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies alike, and shows traits of the Greek romance as well.

It is definitely one of the more complex plays, featuring a rich cast of characters, several jumps in location and time, and in general a lot of deep discussions about a variety of themes. Therefore, I would
[Exit, pursued by a bear.]

I see why this moment is iconic.

I initially wanted to read The Winter's Tale in English. Previously I've only read Shakespeare in translation. But at 8% mark, during this piece of dialogue:

Why, that's my bawcock. What! hast smutch'd thy nose?— They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain, We must be neat;—not neat, but cleanly, captain: And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf, Are all call'd neat.— [Observing POLIXENES and HERMIONE] Still virgina
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (Shakespeare) readers looking for winter classics
Shelves: classics, plays
“A sad tale’s best for winter.”

And sad it is, because while this play is more known for its bear-exit, the story itself is pretty cold. Especially the first half has some painful parallels with present times: Leontes’ jealous delusions and Hermione’s cruel treatment bring the #MeToo-trials to my mind. Apollo’s oracle proving my wife’s innocence? Fake news!

But where Leontes painfully shows what destruction a powerful mad man can cause – maybe they should perform this play at the White House
Roy Lotz
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that, move still, still so,
And own no other function.

After slogging my way through the problem plays, the late tragedies, and the early romances, this play is a sweet relief. Shakespeare here returns to form with this delightful work. The play is easy to enjoy: winsome characters, pastoral romance, and a whimsical plot. I particularly liked Shakespeare’s depiction of sexual jealousy in the play’s beginning acts
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astonishing work, late Shakespeare at his best, maybe just prior to the Tempest. Best children's role in the canon, Mamilius. Perhaps the most jealous of all the Bard's jealous lovers and spouses, Leontes. The most innocent accused, Hermione. The best stage direction, "Exit pursued by a Bear." The best friendship turned sour. The best speech on flowers, Perdita's "Now my fairest friend, / I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might/ Become your time of day, and yours and yours,/...daf ...more
Liz Janet
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful queen named Hermione, resurrection, the oracle of Delphi, a jealous husband, someone trying to do good gets eaten by a bear, royalty does not know is royalty, love wants to conquer, happy end.
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This has quickly moved up to become one of 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!
David Sarkies
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody really
Recommended to David by: Highschool
Shelves: romance
Not one of the Bard's best efforts
15 June 2014

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
Keith Mukai
Feb 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I have drunk and seen the spider.

One’s suspension of disbelief will be sorely tested here. The king of Sicily is a paranoid git. Was he always of this character or did he arrive at such by an untoward alignment of humors? Again, just go with it. The tyrant is convinced that his wife has been untrue. The king of Bohemia is the suspect. His wife is pregnant, a physical symbol of his being cuckolded. This is a comedy, right? He's allowed to fume and bellow, allowing a stage of fire and fury to pers
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
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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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