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The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

The Winter's Tale (1623)

by William Shakespeare, William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,654252,251 (3.7)99
  1. 10
    Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: Both The Winter's Tale and Pericles use a chorus to advance the play's action.

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My daughter is a sophomore in high school, and a confirmed Shakespeare devotee. When assigned Shakespeare for English, she giggles or cries her way through the texts, often reading aloud her favorite bits to me. I confess I never found Shakespeare as accessible as she does, but I love her enthusiasm for the bard, and when I found this audiobook at the library, I decided to give Shakespeare a go myself. After all, what better way to experience Shakespeare than through the performances of such amazing actors (this version is a fully dramatized audiobook performed by Sinead Cusack, Ciaran Hinds, Eileen Atkins, Paul Jesson, Sir John Gielgud and others)? And amazing they were -- and what a listening treat! The story is both sad and very funny.

Leontes, the king of Sicily, and his wife Hermione are hosting Polyxenes, the king of Bohemia and boyhood friend of Leontes. Leontes is unable to persuade his friend to stay in Sicily, and entreats Hermione to persuade him. When Polyxenes agrees, Leontes is suddenly seized with a jealousy so powerful he becomes crazed. He is convinced that Polyxenes and Hermione are having an affair and that the baby Hermione is carrying is Polyxenes's. He orders Camillo to poison the Bohemian king, but instead, Camiillo helps Polyxenes to escape, which further convinces Leontes of his guilt. He imprisons Hermione, and dispatches two of his lords to the Oracle at Delphi for confirmation of his wife's guilt. The Oracle proclaims Hermione's innocence, and prophesies that the king will be without an heir until that which has been lost is returned. Furious, Leontes sends his newborn daughter away with Antigonus to to abandoned to her fate, and brings Hermione to trial. Then the king's son dies, Hermione swoons and dies also, and Leontes is broken with grief and remorse.

Meanwhile, Antigonus leaves the baby, named Perdita, before being eaten by a bear (Exit, pursued by a bear). She is found, along with gold and royal trinkets by a shepherd and his son who take her in. Sixteen years later Perdita is a lovely girl being courted in secret by Polyxenes's son Florizel. King Polyxenes and Camillo visit the old shepherd's sheep-shearing feast in disguise, and attempt to persuade Florizel to include his father in his impending marriage to Perdita. When he refuses, the king throws off his disguise, disinherits his son, and threatens Perdita and the shepherd with torture. Camillo helps the lovers escape to seek refuge and support in Sicily, where he longs to return also. The shepherd shows the king the gold and royal trinkets found with Perdita as a baby. When Polyxenes realizes she is the lost princess of Sicily, he and the shepherd follow Perdita, Camillo, and Florizel to Sicily. There they are reunited with Leontes, still broken by grief and shame. That which was lost now returned and the prophecy fulfilled, the lady (and widow of Antigonus) Paulina reveals to them a statue of Hermione, astonishing in its likeness. In fact, it is Hermione, hidden away 16 years by Paulina and now restored to the family.

This was a wonderful way to experience Shakespeare, as well as the legendary performers -- I'm planning to look for more!
  AMQS | Jan 14, 2015 |
Deeply paranoid, Leontes, the King of Sicilia, decides that his wife has been having an affair with the visiting King of Bohemia, and that the baby she carries has been fathered by the visitor. Leontes demands that his friend Camillo murder King Polixenes, but instead, Camillo flees Sicilia with the King. Since he can't take revenge on the man, Leontes punishes the Queen and the newborn child, who is taken to Bohemia and left to the elements. She is rescued by a poor shepherd, who raises and loves her as a daughter, and the local prince falls in love with her, which causes problems with his father.

This play is a twofer- you get both a intense tragedy, along the lines of "Othello", then a romance. It's weird, because it's hard to transition from a king demanding that a newborn be burned alive to young love. For me, the first half, with the King's madness, was way more compelling. ( )
  mstrust | Dec 8, 2014 |
I think this is as bipolar a play as I've ever read and I feel that I must give it two reviews to do it justice.

I found Leontes in his green-eyed frenzy more disturbing than Othello. The Moor was an honest soldier subtly deceived. Leontes was an absolute monarch who went mad, roaring his diseased fancies in public, crushing dissent in those who knew better (with one exception), curable in the end only by the gods. (A regular Henry VIII, now that I think about it. ) The only person who stands up to him while he is in frenzy is the noblewoman Paulina, a great and unheralded creation, a role for Kathy Bates or Renee Zellweger.

I liked the second half well enough with its bumpkins and moonstruck lovers. I loved Autolycus the vagabond, pickpocket, sharper, the last in Shakespeare's long line of sharp rogues and clever clowns.

I've never read a more preposterous happy ending. I didn't mind too much. I wanted this play to end happily. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Nov 29, 2014 |
A tragedy that wanted to be a comedy. The Deus ex Machina of the ending (a statue coming to life -- that of a woman who died of grief and mortification at the hands of her husband) was a little absurd. And Hermione (reincarnated) embraces the bastard. What is up with that? A highly implausible story -- it would have made a much better tragedy. Leonates should have gotten his comeuppance. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 23, 2014 |
King Leontes of Sicilia orders that his newborn female child be killed because he fears it is not his. However, Lord Antigonus takes her and abandons her in on the Bohemian coast. When King Leontes's wife is found innocent, he will have no other heir unless the daughter is found. Hermione, Leontes wife, is reported dead to her heartbroken husband. Sixteen years passed, while Perdita, the lost daughter, is being taken care of by a shepherd. News gets to the king that there is a girl with no parents. The relationship is confirmed and everyone rejoices.

I found this book very hard to follow. Because this is fiction, it is hard to tell whether things are figurative or not. It is a quick read. The plot is good if you can understand it. I would only recommend this book to someone who likes reading. ( )
  SeraphinaC.B4 | Mar 15, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (68 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shakespeare, Williammain authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrews, John F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armfield, MaxwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bate, JonathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bjerke, AndréTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braunmuller, Albert RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claus, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, RomaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kermode, FrankEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kittredge, George LymanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LaMar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pafford, John Henry PyleEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pierce, Frederick E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitcher, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasmussen, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schnazer, ErnestEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tonkin, HumphreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wells, Stanley W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
What's gone and what's past help
Should be past grief.
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she that burns in 't.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743484894, Mass Market Paperback)

FOLGER Shakespeare Library


Each edition includes:

· Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

· Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

· Scene-by-scene plot summaries

· A key to famous lines and phrases

· An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

· An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

· Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Stephen Orgel

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:01 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Presents Shakespeare's drama depicting King Leontes, who accuses his boyhood friend of betrayal, condemns his wife for adultery, and banishes his newborn daughter.

» see all 10 descriptions

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Average: (3.7)
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2 19
2.5 10
3 95
3.5 24
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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014071488X, 0141013893

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