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The Winter's Tale [Paperback]

William Shakespeare
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 20 2000 Dover Thrift Editions
Running an emotional gamut from betrayal and broken hearts to romance and reconciliation, this 1611 tragicomedy begins with the tyrannical actions of a jealous king, whose baseless suspicions destroy his own family. The play's second half takes place 16 years later, when the lively plot takes a lighthearted turn, abounding in song and dance.

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One of Shakespeare's most haunting and enigmatic late plays, The Winter's Tale is a fine example of Shakespeare's fascination with the dramatic genre of "romance": the portrayal of magical lands, familial conflict and exile, and final reunion and reconciliation. Drawing on Robert Green's story Pandosto, Shakespeare play tells the story of the middle-aged Leontes, king of Sicilia, and his childhood friend Polixenes, the king of Bohemia. Leontes mistakenly believes that his friend is having an affair with his wife, Hermione. In his jealousy, and consumed by "tremor cordis", he tries to murder Polixenes, who flees, and accuses his wife of adultery. Hermione gives birth to a baby girl, Perdita, who Leontes denounces as illegitimate, and casts her out into the wilderness. Hermione is ultimately proved innocent, but her son, Mamillius, dies of grief. Hermione collapses, apparently dead, and Leontes is left to pick up the tragic consequences of his actions. Time passes, and the action moves to Bohemia, where the lost child Perdita has grown up a shepherdess in the midst of "great creating nature". The final scenes of the play draw towards resolution and reconciliation between Leontes, Hermione and their lost daughter, culminating in one of Shakespeare's most moving final scenes. One of Shakespeare's most consummate plays, The Winter's Tale is a fascinating study of male insecurity and the relations between art and nature. --Jerry Brotton. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


a valuable edition of 'The Winter's Tale'...His accounts of language and of motivation are particularly illuminating and level-headed. - The Review of English Studies, Vol. 49, No. 194, 1998.

`a valuable edition of The Winter's Tale ... this is a well-focused and helpful edition.' Paul Hammond, Review of English Studies --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Sara
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Then read this before you retire from Shakespeare! I read this in AP English after Hamlet, and I have to say that this was a surprise to me. The Winters Tale is refreshing compared to Shakespeare's earlier tragedy works. No one dies in this play except for one person instead of the entire cast.
This is mainly a love story with several different types of love affairs- Leontes and Hermoine, Leontes and Polizenes, Farid and Perdita... There is no single major character as this play is set up in two different time periods and each character mostly acts independently of each other.
As for the characterization in the play, readers can observe the classical Shakespearean characters (similar characteristics to the earlier plays) and newly personality designed characers. This mixed play reveals Shakespeare's transition from his original writings to his attempt to prove his audience that there is good in life.
I recommend this play for readers and interested literature majors because I have found this play to be widely used on college campuses and I can see why. Although we are done and we spent some time but I felt that this play deserves to be discussed in depth since there are many different elements to it. Even short plays can evolve into a course as well as long Russian style novels.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The high price of Jealousy Nov. 18 2003
Ask anyone to name a play by Shakespeare and it most likely will be Romeo and Juliet, or Hamlet, or Macbeth or even Othello. Rarely will you ever hear anyone say The Winter's tale, but is its lack of popularity due to it being any lesser than Shakespeare's other works? Unfortunately I would have to say yes.
The play is taken from Greene's Pandosto and follows it quite closely in most parts. The plot is fairly simple, Leontes, the King of Sicilia gets into a jealous rage over his what he believes is his wife's infidelity with his friend. This causes him to break off a close relationship with his childhood friend the King of Bohemia and his servant Camillo. He also banishes his daughter, and kills his wife and son by flouting Apollo's judgement that Hermione, his wife, is innocent.
The second part of the play is concerned with the reunion of his banished daughter and her newly acquired husband with Leontes. There is a surprise at the ending which I will not spoil for those who have not yet had the opportunity to read the play.
If you've read Othello, you will find similarities between Othello and Leontes and also between Desdemona and Hermione. The only major difference is that there is no Iago in this play; Leontes is his own Iago. Shakespeare in Othello develops the reasons for Othello's suspicion of Desdemona, unfortunately this is lacking in The Winter's Tale. There is not much of a motive and the reader (or audience) is asked to believe that Leontes develops his jealous rage over one minor incident and almost immediately.
Another problem I have with this play is with the surprise ending. Here again, there is not much of a clue as to how this happens, it is just assumed that we will accept it unquestioningly as fact.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Redemptive Tragedy May 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Winter's Tale is a lot of things: heart-breaking, exhilerating, funny, beautiful, romantic, profound, etc. Yeah, it's all here. This is one of the bard's best plays, and I can't believe they don't teach this in schools. Of course, the ones they teach are excellent, but I can see high school kids enjoying this one a lot more than some of those others (Othello, King Lear).
The story is, of course, brilliant. King Leontes goes into a jealous rage at the beginning against his wife Hermione. Leontes is very mistaken in his actions, and the result is tragic. Shakespeare picks the story back up sixteen years later with the children, and the story works to a really, really surprising end of bittersweet redemption.
This is one of Shakespeare's bests. The first half is a penetrating and devestating, but the second half shows a capacity for salvation from the depths of despair. Also, this being Shakespeare, the blank verse is gorgeous and the characters are well drawn, and the ending is a surprise unparalleled in the rest of his plays. The Winter's Tale is a truly profound and entertaining read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Time heals and reveals... July 29 2002
By rannoon
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A sad romantic play about human behavior and emotions ...a merciless decision issued by the king Leontes against his wife Hermione and his boyhood friend Polixenes is the shocking beginning of a real tragedy ....immaturity,mistrust and devastating jealousy that completely blinds Leontes of seeing the truth and the consequences of his actions..

Just like a real life story ... call it destiny or Shakesperean justice ... everything evolves to bring those apart back together ... but it takes time to learn and change. The wittiness of Autolycus lightens the severity of the play and shows the opposite side of human nature and growth...
I loved the country scenes where the new love of Perdita and Florizel flourishes, they are truly the most romantic and so pure.. beautiful images of blooming emotions reflecting the nature of life and relationships!
I think the surprise ending is the climatic picture of remorseful emotions,transformed personalities and new love ... an amazing twist that gives the play a new definition!
A magical romantic poetry of love, loss and new beginnings!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
"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. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2011 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars "A sad tale's best for winter" that ends in joy

(This review is for the talking book version of this play on compact disc by the "Complete Arkangel Shakespeare" and published by BBC Audiobooks America. Read more
Published on March 3 2010 by Stephen Pletko
3.0 out of 5 stars the winters tale
a good read, but can be confusing for kids. It takes a while to comprehend all of the Shakespearian langauge, but is very interesting. It is boring at parts.
Published on May 20 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The Terrible Costs of Jealous Rage
The Winter's Tale contains some of the most technically difficult solutions to telling a story that have ever appeared in a play. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2001 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Boy's GREATEST Play!!!!!
This play, in my opinion, is Shakespeare's greatest. It doesn't have the great quotes or the great characters or the action of many of his plays, but it has a 'Surprise Twist'... Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2001 by "kenamat"
5.0 out of 5 stars My personal favorite of Shakespeare's plays
For me The Winter's Tale is the most satisfying of Shakespeare's plays. And why? It may not be Hamlet for tragedy, it may not be Twelfth Night for comedy -- indeed, perhaps in... Read more
Published on July 21 2001 by Henry Ehrman
4.0 out of 5 stars A real pleasure to read!
I really, really liked this play. This was my third of Shakespeare's, and I was pleased to discover that I hadn't wasted my time reading it. Oh, how sorry I felt for Hermione! Read more
Published on Dec 10 2000 by Kirby Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
"A sad tale's best for winter." And this tale is full of misperceived motives, anger, absurdities, seeming tragedy, and hysterical comedy. Read more
Published on June 4 2000 by NotATameLion
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Awkward, But Still Excellent
In my opinion, this does not quite reach the level of a masterpiece. Leontes' initial rage is too sudden and abrupt. Read more
Published on April 9 2000 by Sean Ares Hirsch
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