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Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library) [Mass Market Paperback]

William Shakespeare , Dr. Barbara A. Mowat , Paul Werstine
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2, 2003 067172259X 978-0671722593
FOLGER Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies.

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 an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
  • Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Cynthia Marshall

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. For more information, visit

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Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library) + Antony and Cleopatra (Folger Shakespeare Library) + Titus Andronicus (Folger Shakespeare Library)
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Editorial Reviews


?First published in the 1930s, these works, published here in economical paperback editions . . . are still considered definitive.?-Stages --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—their older daughter Susanna and the twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent, not in Stratford, but in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Sometime between 1610 and 1613, Shakespeare is thought to have retired from the stage and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616.

Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067172259X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671722593
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A late, loony, self- parodying masterpiece October 21, 2000
"Cymbeline" is my favourite Shakespeare play. It's also probably his loopiest. It has three plots, managing to drag in a banishment, a murder, a wicked queen, a moment of almost sheer pornography, a full-on battle between the Romans and the British, a spunky heroine, her jealous but not-really-all-that-bad husband, some fantastic poetry and Jupiter himself descending out of heaven on an eagle to tell the husband to pull his finger out and get looking for his wife. Finally, just when your head is spinning with all the cross-purposes and dangling resolutions, Shakespeare pulls it all together with shameless neatness and everybody lives happily ever after. Except for the wicked queen, and her son, who had his head cut off in Act 4.
"Cymbeline" is, then, completely nuts, but it manages also to be very moving. Quentin Tarantino once described his method as "placing genre characters in real-life situations" - Shakespeare pulls off the far more rewarding trick of placing realistic characters in genre situations. Kicking off with one of the most brazen bits of expository dialogue he ever created, not even bothering to give the two lords who have to explain the back story an ounce of personality, Shakespeare quickly recovers full control and races through his long, complex and deeply implausible narrative at a headlong pace. The play is outrageously theatrical, and yet intensely observed. Imogen's reaction on reading her husband's false accusation of her infidelity is a riveting mixture of hurt and anger; she goes through as much tragedy as a Juliet, yet is less inclined to buckle and snap under the pressure. When she wakes up next to a headless body that she believes to be her husband, her aria of grief is one of the finest WS ever wrote.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars misleading and outdated March 29, 2000
By A Customer
This is probably one of the most outdated and misleading of the Arden editions. Nosworthy really doesn't like the play and dismisses it as an experiment leading up to _The Tempest_. Even his editing of the text is affected by his reading of the play. Only scholars who know something about Shakespeare should venture here.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Magnificent April 3, 2000
A combination of "Romeo and Juliet," "Much Ado About Nothing," "As You Like It," and "King Lear?" Well somehow, Shakespeare made it work. Like "Romeo and Juliet" we have a protagonist (Imogen) who falls under her father's rages because she will not marry who he wants her to. Like "Much Ado About Nothing," we have a villain (Iachimo) who tries to convince a man (Posthumus) that the woman he loves is full of infidelity. Like "As You Like It," we have exiled people who praise life in the wilderness and a woman who disguises herself as a man to search for her family in the wilderness. Like "King Lear," we have a king who's rages and miscaculated judgement lead to disastorous consequences. What else is there? Only beautiful language, multiple plots, an evil queen who tries to undermind the king, an action filled war, suspense, a dream with visions of Pagan gods, and a beautiful scene of reconciliation at the end. While this is certainly one of Shakespeare's longer plays, it is well worth the time.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thick on Plot; Thin on Character January 5, 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's least performed and least read plays. You do not stumble on it, you work your way through Shakespeare's opus and finally get there. The historical context is the war between Britain and the Roman Empire, and the action is hot and heavy, requiring five acts and twenty-seven scenes. Perhaps it is this complexity of plot that retarded Shakespeare's character development. Fewer lines have entered our lexicon from this play than most. Two exceptions are "the tongue is sharper than the sword," and to have "a bellyful of fighting." It is an excellent tragedy, however, combining elements of King Lear and elements of Othello. In its mystic elements it also resembles The Tempest.

The core of the plot is the bet between Posthumous, the king's son, and Iachimo, who wagers ten thousand ducats that he can seduce Posthumous' wife, Imogen. Posthumous, in turn, wagers a ring that Imogen has given him that Iachimo will not succeed. Initially, we amused by the idea, but upon further reflection, it is clear that the gambit cannot have a happy ending. Either the seduction is successful, breaking up the marriage, or it isn't, in which case Iachimo will certainly claim that he has secuced Imogen, simply to win the ring. In the process he sets himself the Iago-like task of converting love to hate.

The play is also full of classic Shakespearean gadgetry, including a potion that causes a trance resembling death, mystical soothsayers, the intervention of gods, women disguised as men, and a historical tableau which would have been familiar to Shakespeare's audience. It is a quintessential Shakespearean play, comprising nearly all of the classical elements of tragedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You're all missing the point... February 15, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think you're all missing the point (or a bunch of ringers from What we have here is the basic text derived a scanned version of the play, with no background information on how the text came to be. It's a decent enough interpretation, but with absolutely no editorial assistance to understand the language or the context in which the ideas of the author are set forth. Definitely better than nothing, though.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Would I buy this again?

I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, and not only have I bought individual plays, but now that I have a Kindle I was able to get the complete works of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lorita Nixon
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable dramatization
This set of three CDs contains a really great dramatization of Shakespeare’s play, Cymbeline. Arkangel brought together a battery of great actors (including Sophie Thompson, Jack... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Always Reliable
When I am preparing to teach any of Shakespeare's plays, I start with an order for an Arden Edition of the play. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Edward K. Bowen
5.0 out of 5 stars Cymbeline - Folger Library edition
The Folger Library does an excellent job producing Shakespeare's plays. Hard to understand words are placed on the page opposite the text, so my students don't have to go... Read more
Published 21 months ago by L. J. McLeod-Warrick
1.0 out of 5 stars Took Forever to Receive and is Missing Most of the Play!
This book took almost two weeks to receive. Not to mention when I did finally get my copy in the mail, I was disappointed to see that the play skipped from Act II to Act V. Read more
Published 22 months ago by AYK
4.0 out of 5 stars "Pardon's the word to all."
"Cymbeline" is one of Shakespeare's last plays, and boasts more subplots than almost any other of the Bard's works. Read more
Published 22 months ago by B. Wilfong
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing most of the play!
This version of the play is MISSING Acts III and IV.

Act IV, Scene ii contains some of the most famous lines of Shakespeare: "Fear no more the heat of the sun ... Read more
Published 24 months ago by sadpanda72
5.0 out of 5 stars A dunce for a king
Lear, Macbeth, Richard II, and Richard III fall because one way or another they go beyond their authority. They are proud, vain, and presumptuous. Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by Vincent Poirier
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT GET THIS VERSION
DO NOT GET THIS VERSION. It is a scam. Literally. It contains acts 1 and two, and then skips right to act 5. Read more
Published on January 25, 2012 by Em
3.0 out of 5 stars A Minor Shakespeare Play
This is one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, and I still haven't read it. That's why I got it. Soon I shall read it. So there.
Published on September 22, 2010 by Steve Wooden
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