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The Winter's Tale (1623)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,837552,313 (3.69)172
"King Leontes of Sicilia is seized by sudden and terrible jealousy of his wife Hermione, whom he accuses of adultery. He believes the child Hermione is bearing to have been fathered by his friend Polixenes, and when the baby girl is born he orders her to be taken to some wild place and left to die. Though Hermione's child escapes death, Leontes' cruelty has terrible consequences. Loss paves the way for reunion, and life and hope are born out of desolation and despair"--Container.… (more)
  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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» See also 172 mentions

English (50)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Definitely my least favorite Shakespearean play so far. Since plays are written to be performed and not read, I will try to watch a performance on video soon and reevaluate my opinion afterwards. ( )
  boldforbs | Jan 15, 2021 |
One of the best of the Arden third series. An absolutely indispensable and clear guide, largely lacking academic jargon, running through interpretation, performance, and textual issues. Bliss. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
The Penguin editors' sensibilities really match "The Winter's Tale". ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
Shakespeare: Hmm. "Content. 'Tis strange"... In fact, don't care much at all for it (hence all the histories I just retold, the plays I plagiarized from others). Honestly, I'm just bored by form– all tragedies and comedies have the same predictable stories.
Oh, I've got it: I'll write a play that begins as a tragedy–let's set it in winter because "a sad tale's best for winter" (2.1.25)– but halfway through, I'll come out on stage dressed up as Time, holding an hourglass, and re-do the whole play. I'll ask the audience to bear with me (mmm, yes, that's a good word, "bear"... I'll play a lot with that one, maybe even have a guy get chased offstage by a bear).
Antingonus: Arghhghhhh
Shakespeare (unbothered): You know, suspend disbelief like you're supposed to do in theater (I mean, who even cares that Bohemia's not really on the coast– anything is fair game in theater, right?). Right, so I'll come out and ask everyone to bear with me (smirk) while I speed up time: "to th' freshest things now reigning" (ha, that's good, "raining," get it? We're moving into spring rains, fertility, rebirth, etc) "and make stale/ The glistering of this present, as my tale/ Now seems to it."
Okay, so as we move into summer, my winter's tale will become "stale"/old news in the warmer weather.

Oh yeah, and let's make the "winter tragedy" be about a king who wrongly accuses his wife of being a whore, since "stale" is also slang for whore, and I like a good pun, you know? "The Winter's Stale?" Get it? Ha ha.
He'll kill her and his son (who he thinks is someone else's love child), banish his newborn daughter, but everything will be fine in the end-- a statue of the kings wife will be SO realistic that it comes to life. Ugh, and theater's so perfect for this too. Only actors can make representations of living people physically breathe. My art's way better than those stupid gilded monuments, since my characters are always coming to life again on stage. So in this play, everyone's a winner!

Antigonus and Mamillius: Hey!
Hermione: Hello? I was killed by my husband and then I have to marry him?
Paulina: My husband gets eaten by a bear and then I have to marry some random guy at the end? Psh, happy ending? What century do you live in?

Shakespeare: Ok, well, maybe the little boy stays dead. And Antigonus does get eaten by a bear, but that bear scene is just so good, it's got to stay. (I mean, how quotable are these stage directions: "Exit pursued by a bear"? So quotable.) [To the women] Hey, who's writing this play anyway?

Barthes: Well actually... ( )
  melanierisch | Oct 25, 2020 |
Definitely one of Shakespeare's lesser plays, The Winter's Tale wrestles unsuccessfully with structural problems that the Bard would only resolve in his later play The Tempest. He also delves into dynamics that he had already represented much more successfully elsewhere (the jealousy of Othello, the madness of King Lear, the disguises of Much Ado About Nothing and the fantastical cornucopia from A Midsummer Night's Dream).

On the face of it, this might suggest a muddle, but The Winter's Tale is more straightforward than many commentaries let on. A king fears he is being cuckolded by his wife and, jealously plotting revenge, he drives her into the grave and their daughter (who he believes illegitimate) into an abandoned exile. Seeing the error of his ways, a blizzard of fantastical coincidences leads his daughter, raised by a shepherd, to marry a foreign prince and return home for a happy reconcilement.

This switch from tragedy to comedy is far from elegant, and Shakespeare essentially Leeroy Jenkins-es his way through The Winter's Tale, one moment talking about cuckoldry and dashing babies' brains out and the next penning odes to flowers and chaste maidens. The resolution at the end is almost brazenly curt. It's like a dream, where there is a coherent narrative but your drowsy brain is pulling in elements from wherever it can find them, so that the play embraces violence, sexual jealousy and pastoral festivity, the coastline of the famously-landlocked Bohemia, and noblemen with Roman names consulting ancient Delphic oracles before commissioning a statue from Giulio Romano, a 16th-century sculptor.

And, crucially, like those dreams, it all makes sense in the moment, even if once you wake up you struggle to piece it together. I remember once reading a book called The Reavers by George MacDonald Fraser, a piece of nonsense by a writer who, in all his other books, had provided novels that were humorous, meticulously researched and characterised by strong storytelling. My conclusion was that The Reavers – composed in 'some sort of fit', as the blurb put it – was a revealing insight into what Fraser found funny and interesting when all the structure and responsibility was taken away. Similarly, in The Winter's Tale, seeing Shakespeare in this loose, peculiar mood is very revealing. In a strange way it makes you feel closer to him than you would get from one of his more daunting, more expertly constructed plays. ( )
1 vote Mike_F | Oct 7, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (244 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andrews, John F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armfield, MaxwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnet, SylvanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bate, JonathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bjerke, AndréTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braunmuller, Albert RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claus, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, RomaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greene, RobertContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudson, Henry N.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, J. H. P.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pierce, Frederick E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitcher, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasmussen, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete The Winter's Tale only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

"King Leontes of Sicilia is seized by sudden and terrible jealousy of his wife Hermione, whom he accuses of adultery. He believes the child Hermione is bearing to have been fathered by his friend Polixenes, and when the baby girl is born he orders her to be taken to some wild place and left to die. Though Hermione's child escapes death, Leontes' cruelty has terrible consequences. Loss paves the way for reunion, and life and hope are born out of desolation and despair"--Container.

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Average: (3.69)
1 13
2 32
2.5 13
3 136
3.5 30
4 151
4.5 14
5 111

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014071488X, 0141013893

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