Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Library)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2013
What's not to love about marvelous Barbara Mowat's student friendly Folger editions?

An ESL, literature, and theatre teacher on the Navajo Reservation, I used the Folger introduction as a spring board for dazzling research projects. The introduction to reading Shakespeare's language, "broke the code" of the syntax, freeing students to be literary detectives and unravel the meaning of challenging passages. The section on Shakespeare 's education was pivotal in our debate to determine if William was indeed the author of the play. The scene-by-scene plot summaries were indispensable. The wonderful images and explanatory notes, placed on pages facing the text, supported close reading.

I favor Arden editions when directing a play, but they have too many annotations for high school students and distract the flow of the script.

Scholarly but not intimidating, Folger editions are affordable, welcoming. When I use Folger editions in my classes, I am confident that I've given my students a splendid entrance into Shakespeare's world and imagination. Pair this edition with the stellar bank of lesson plans available on the Folger Library's website and the "Shakespeare Set Free" teaching guides created by talented high school teachers, fellows of the renowned Teaching Shakespeare Institute. If you do, the way you teach Shakespeare will be transformed: Your students will become active, engaged learners, and their understanding and love of this play will skyrocket.

To earn five stars, make this edition even more student friendly. Include a "Breaking the Code" chart of Shakespeare's language and colored pictures of productions performed at the Folger Library with interviews from the directors and actors. Why not add a cartoon about the authorship debate for visual interest and wit?!

P.S. Directors Trevor Nunn and Kenneth Branagh have created two very different, but wondrous interpretations of "Twelfth Night"; both are a joy to watch and would be a delightful gift for an English teacher's Christmas stocking.
 Twelfth Night
 The Thames Shakespeare Collection: Twelfth Night
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2013
Needed this book and 2 others for a Shakespeare class I was taking. All my books were by the Folger Shakespeare Library which gives good comprehensive notes on the opposite page of each page of the play. Overall it is done very well.
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on February 23, 2012
The title refers to the Feast of Epiphany, or the twelfth day of Christmas, marking the last day/night of festivities (around January 6). The center of the play is the Countess Olivia, who finds herself a powerful person upon the death of her father then her beloved brother. Three main suitors for the heiress include Malvolio, an ambitious man who wants Olivia for her status and not her beauty. Duke Orsino thinks he loves her and he madly pursues her. The silly Sir Andrew Aguecheek is encouraged on by his friend Sir Toby, Olivia's uncle, and Malvolio's opposite. Where Malvolio is a fuddy-duddy and an orderly employee who chastises the staff for their misbehaviors, Toby is raucous and disorderly. Malvolio soon becomes the victim of pranks that darken the play's comedy.

The twins Viola and Sebastian are parallels to Olivia's love story in certain ways. Ship-wrecked on Ilyria, the twins believe each other has been drowned. In her attempt to survive, Viola disguises herself as a young man and becomes servant to Orsino, who immediately likes his young page Cesario. Cesario (Viola)quickly becomes a confidant to Orsino, who sends Cesario off to woo Olivia for him. Olivia falls for Cesario and eventually wants to wed him. The plot develops as the love story switches gears.

Another great character is Feste, the fool, whose role in court is to speak the truth without repercussions. His ridiculous superficial words belie his shrewdness. Characters who tolerate the fool are the good characters (like Olivia) and those who do not are villains (like Malvolio). But Shakespeare doesn't allow Malvolio to be a stock character. When he is the victim of horrendous pranks, Olivia and the audience feel sorrow for his belittlement. Feste is the final speaker of the play, and his poignant words reveal a measured, mature picture of life which is anything but simple. We are encouraged to live life fully and to enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2013
I am reading this for my AP English class and Folger was recommended. This book has a great commentary and is a big help with its summaries and vocabulary notes on each page.
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on January 19, 2013
A a Shakespeare teacher, I assign the Folger for high school students. This edition is reasonably thorough and the notes are easy to follow while reading. However, I never go anywhere without my Arden. When working on a student production of "Twelfth Night" recently, we'd have to check the Arden for analysis of particularly tough passages that the Folger simply ignored. On its own the Folger is not substantial enough for careful analysis of the play. I haven't investigated it, but based on past experiences I don't think the Oxford or Signet do any better than Folger, though, which is why I assign this edition.
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on January 25, 2013
I found this to be a good acting edition. Folgers ed's were used in the Shakespeare class I took recently, so it was my 1st choice. It turned out to be a very good compliment to Arden's ed. would rate Arden a little better for annotations, but the two combined (and help from No-Fear or similar internet searches) answered my main Q's. I did find the introduction very rambling and wordy, preferring Arden's, but the summaries and post-scripts were useful.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
I read this in preparation for going to see an upcoming production of this play put on by "Shakespeare in the Park" that's going to be playing June 1st through the 4th of this year in the Botanical Gardens. Considering the myriad summaries and expositions of this play, I won't recapitulate those here. What I will do, both for my personal use and for the remote possibility that someone else might find some use in them, is post my own thoughts and notes I took as I read it. Hopefully they'll serve as an aide memoire if I ever need one.

ACT I: Overall themes: identity (masque?), rejection, and desire. It asks whether or not love is something real, or just another human artifice, much like the music that Count Orsino "feeds" on. Orsino's switch of affection from Olivia to Viola is a hint that he loves the idea of love more than one of the women themselves. He's a parody of the hopeless romantic. Viola's wish to be transformed into a eunuch is indicative of gender liminality - or at least this seems to be a common argument, even though it's readily known that men played all roles in Elizabethan and Jacobean theater (so I'm a little confused by the single-minded focus that much modern scholarship has put on gender in this play). Perhaps this gender ambiguity is a sort of defense mechanism to deal with the uncertainty inherent with being tossed on an unknown island. There has also been some focus on Orsino's shift of affection toward Viola (Cesario) from a platonic friendship to a more romantic one. (Could our more modern emotional coldness associated with masculinity be coloring this reading, too?) Feste is obviously one of the cleverest people in the play. "Cucullus non facit monachum" indeed! As a critique of courtly love, this act accomplishes a lot, and Feste comes out being one of the least foolish people on the stage.

ACT II: Malvolio (literally, from the Latin, "ill will"), the only character who takes himself much too seriously, is tricked into the tomfoolery that he himself so deplores, ultimately proving Feste right: it's not just the role of the fool to entertain folly.

ACT III: Even though, considering Malvolio's transformation from joy-hating blowhard into romantic lover is a drastic one, that Olivia thinks him mad might be telling. Is there any room here for a sort of Foucauldian discussion of what constitutes "madness and civilization" in Elizabethan England? From the little that I've seen of the scholarly literature, I haven't yet seen any discussions that run along these lines.
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on December 22, 2011
This is a larger version of the typical Folger's Shakespeare book in both length and width. Also the paper is different than the other versions. No big deal, just not as expected, hence the four stars rather than five.
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on September 21, 2013
This was an assigned read for my Granddaugter but I like the way it was presented as she i a eigth grader
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on April 7, 2015
Amazing play, must read, also look up the movie, the movie does a great representation of the play.
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