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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A late, loony, self- parodying masterpiece
"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...
Published on October 21, 2000 by lexo-2

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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars misleading and outdated
This is probably one of the most outdated and misleading of the Arden editions.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.
Published on March 29, 2000


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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. No less impressive is her plucky determination to get on with her life, rather than follow her hubby into the grave.
Posthumus, the hubby in question, is made of less attractive stuff, but when he comes to believe that Imogen is dead, as he ordered (this play is full of people getting things wrong and suffering for it), he rejects his earlier jealousy and starts to redeem himself a tad. There's a vicious misogyny near the heart of this play, as Shakespeare biographer Park Honan observed, kept in balance by a hatred of violence against women. The oafish prince Cloten, who lusts after Imogen, is a truly repellent piece of work, without even the intelligence of Iago or the horrified panic of Macbeth; his plan to kill Posthumus and rape Imogen before her husband's body is just about as squalid and vindictive as we expect of this louse, and when a long-lost son of the king (don't even _ask_) lops Cloten's head off, there are cheers all round.
Shakespeare sends himself up all through "Cymbeline". I wonder if the almost ludicrously informative opening exposition scene isn't a bit of a gag on his part, but when a tired and angry Posthumus breaks into rhyming couplets, then catches himself and observes "You have put me into rhyme", we know that Shakespeare is having us on a little. Likewise, the final scene, when all is resolved, goes totally over the top in its piling-on "But-what-of-such-and-such?" and "My-Lord-I-forgot-to-mention" moments.
Yet the moments of terror and pity are deep enough to make the jokiness feel truly earned. When Imogen is laid to rest and her adoptive brothers recite "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" over her body, it's as affecting as any moment in the canon. That she isn't actually dead, we don't find out until a few moments later, but it's still a great moment.
Playful, confusing, enigmatic, funny and shot through with a frightening darkness, this is another top job by the Stratford boy. Well done.
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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
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This review is from: Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library) (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. If the plot could have been pruned, and the characters given more of the dimensionality that we expect from Shakespeare, Cymbeline would stand on a higher pedestal.

The Folger Shakespeare Library's annotated edition is excellent. It provides just the right notation on the page facing the text, and can be studied or ignored to suit the reader's purpose.
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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
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This review is from: Cymbeline (Paperback)
I think you're all missing the point (or a bunch of ringers from digireads.com). 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT GET THIS VERSION, January 25, 2012
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This review is from: Cymbeline (Paperback)
DO NOT GET THIS VERSION. It is a scam. Literally. It contains acts 1 and two, and then skips right to act 5. The text has obviously been copied and pasted from various sources, it randomly switches between paragraph form and iambic pentameter.
The image on the front and back is pixel-y, someone with little knowledge of image editing applied it.
This isn't even a good forgery. I could tell something was wrong the moment I picked it up.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed analysis of several productions of CYMBELINE, January 4, 1998
Roger Warren's In Performance: Cymbeline provides a thorough, scene by scene (often line by line) description and analysis of some of the most important productions of this wonderful play, beginning with a legendary RSC (or is it NT) production of the sixties, which starred Vanessa Redgrave as Imogen, and other productions at both Stratfords (U.K. and Canada) and the BBC TV version with Helen Mirren, Robert Lindsay, Richard Johnson, Claire Bloom, Michaels Gough and Pennington. Invaluable as a research tool for this unusually difficult play, both for the scholar looking to make live what he sees on the page, and the theater professional coming to terms with a play that affords being looked at from many possible angles. Highly recommended (and, as a bonus, divertingly written).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cymbeline - Folger Library edition, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
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 searching for definitions of words they are unfamiliar with.Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library)is definitely a good way to read the play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Pardon's the word to all.", August 26, 2012
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"Cymbeline" is one of Shakespeare's last plays, and boasts more subplots than almost any other of the Bard's works. However, the resolution of this play brings all of the subplots together nicely in a satisfying (and convenient I admit) resolution that is one of the happiest endings in all of Shakespeare.
By the way, I give "Cymbeline" a 4 star rating compared to other Shakespeare, not to literature as a whole. The Bard is in a class of his own.
"Cymbeline" shares a lot in common with the play that Shakespeare wrote soon after it, "The Winter's Tale". Many readers don't like these late Shakespeare's but I love them as their themes of grace and redemption resonate mightily with me. The two male leads of both plays (Posthumus and Leontes) also share common traits, as both are quick to anger, rage, and willingness to believe the worst about their spouses. And both are the unworthy recipients of the redeeming power of forgiveness and grace.
Act 2:4 is a highlight of this dizzying play as we get to see one of Shakespeare's lesser villains, Iachimo, toying with Posthumus, who believes he is a cuckold. Iachimo paints such vivid pictures in the jealous mind of this dupe that he backs Posthumus into a corner with sexual imagery. The cat enjoys toying with this mouse, and it makes for delightful reading!
This play also boats the richly drawn character of Imogen, the daughter of the king of the title and wife to Posthumus. She is a great Shakespearean heroine, especially in Acts 3 and 4 of this play. In those two acts she is on par with "As You Like It's" Rosalind, who is in my opinion Shakespeare's greatest female creation. Imogen is almost too well drawn a character for this play, such is her vivacity and delight for the reader.
Act 4:2 contains one of the more famous aspects of "Cymbeline", a very simple and touching elegy that is spoken over the grave of one of the characters. To my mind it is one of the best statements about death in all of literature. In fact, it is often quoted at funerals to this day. In context it is spoken by two brothers at the grave of their friend/adopted brother, and it is what every living soul hopes for the dead.
This is a play that is not easy to read, and will require a commitment from you. With its large cast and many plotlines you cannot pick this text up at random. However, if you stick with it and focus on it you will experience a gem of the Shakespeare canon.
As for the Pelican Shakespeare series, they are my favorite editions as the scholarly research is usually top notch and the editions themselves look good as an aesthetic unit. It looks and feels like a play and this compliments the text's contents admirably. The Pelican series was recently reedited and has the latest scholarship on Shakespeare and his time period. Well priced and well worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing most of the play!, July 19, 2012
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This review is from: Cymbeline (Paperback)
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 ..." So, if you need this play, are crunched for time, and need it to supplement a research paper on stream-of-consciousness and Mrs. Dalloway ... I would definitely GET ANOTHER VERSION!

Thanks a lot for the complete rip off.
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Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Cymbeline (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (Mass Market Paperback - June 2, 2003)
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