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'a fascinating, challenging and highly original volume' Cahiers Elisabethians
'Stephen Orgel is an inspired choice as editor of this play ... he produces a clean, modestly innovative text with brisk, informative annotation ... wide ranging, speculative introduction' Martin Butler, University of Leeds, Notes and Queries
"David Lindley's Tempest is the best edition on the market. [...] If I were ever again to undertake the editing of a Shakespeare play, I would keep Lindley's edition of The Tempest open beside me." -Studies in Theatre and Performance (UK)
"[Lindley's] edition meets the high standards of the series in an exemplary manner, offering an especially fine introduction." -Studies in English Literature
"David Lindley's edition of The Tempest is easily the most outstanding version of this ostensibly straightforward yet hugely teasing play produced over the last thirty years. Its precise and scrupulous commentary notes are careful to the variety of ways the text can be spoken on stage. Its notes on the music and songs are admirably evocative, and its economical account of the huge range of critical views will send thousands of readers out in fruitful chases after the play's own multitudinous interests. - Andrew Gurr, editor of the forthcoming New Variorum Tempest
I have read the Tempest twice before, once as a teen-ager, once in college and now, in my retirement. I thought I understood the play as a teenager, did not understand it in college and really loved the play with the help of the footnotes in this edition. It brought home the humor as well as the pathos of questions of relationships with family members, the relationships between characters with different levels of social status, questions of loyalty and revenge and other examples of human behavior, even when some of the characters may not be human. Highly recommended.
Cymbeline is among Shakespeare's last five plays, four of which are romances: "Pericles," "The Winter's Tale," "The Tempest," and "Cymbeline." “Cymbeline" is the least performed of the four; the plot is complicated, and the characters are mostly one dimensional (except for the heroine Imogen and the Machiavellian Iachimo). The play is ambitious, too, and entails all of Shakespeare's favorite subjects: love, loss, treachery, the unequal conflict between the good and the evil, and the fragile balance between men and women. However, Imogen is one of the Bard's inspired creations, on the level of Rosalind, but put through a far more harrowing experience. Helen Faucet, the 19th century actress, suggested the play should be retitled "Imogen, Princess of Britain.” She has a point. The reason to read the play (so say the critics) is for Shakespeare’s particularly exquisite verse. “Cymbeline” is perhaps an acquired taste, but worth seeing for unsinkable Imogen, who has been played by a number of great actors down through the years, including Vanessa Redgrave and Dame Judi Dench. No less than Charles Van Doren has counted it among his five favorite plays by William Shakespeare. More about that later.
The story is reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs--with added pitfalls. Imogen’s stepmother, the evil queen, wants her to marry her son, clueless and irredeemable Cloten. Against the Queen’s wishes, and that of her father, King Cymbeline, she marries Posthumus. Posthumus is then banished from Britain. Before departing for Rome, he gives a bracelet to Imogen. In Rome, Posthumus meets the cunning interloper Iachimo, who tells him that his wife can be made unfaithful. Later, in Britain, in one of the play’s truly bizarre scenes, Iachimo hides in a trunk in Imogen’s bedroom. While she’s asleep, he emerges and steals her bracelet. Learning that Iachimo has the bracelet, Posthumus believes the worst and orders his servant Pisanio to kill her. Meanwhile, Rome demands tribute from Britain but Cymbeline refuses. Pisanio, faithful to the bewildered Imogen, tells her to disguise as a boy and seek refuge with the invading Roman army. She becomes lost in Wales and meets a long-ago banished lord, Belarius, and two youths who are the sons of Cymbeline, and therefore princes, and Imogen’s brothers. Belarius kidnapped them when he was banished and has raised them as his own sons, although Cymbeline doesn’t know this; he thinks they’re dead. Imogen, meanwhile, becomes ill and takes a drug that puts her into such a deep sleep that she appears to be dead. Cloten arrives on the scene dressed in Posthumus’ clothes, up to no good, and is killed by one of the princes. Imogen awakes and thinks Cloten’s headless body is that of her husband’s. Deeply grieved, she joins the Roman general, whose forces are ready to attack Cymbeline's forces. The courage of Belarius and the two princes win the day for Britain. All come before Cymbeline where, one revelation growing from another, the plot’s many twists are unraveled. Cymbeline is reunited with his sons and happiness returns to the kingdom, except for the evil Queen, who has died mysteriously. Even Iachimo the interloper and liar is pardoned. Imogen and Posthumous are reunited and presumably live happily ever after.
Sound far-fetched? It is. The play’s saving grace is Imogen, ever faithful, ever pure of heart, ever plucky and resourceful, and allotted the play’s sublimest lines; and Iachimo, rat though he is, Shakespeare renders a three-dimensional character. The rest are one-dimensional cardboard characters--stiff, myopic, inclined to believe the worst. About Imogen, in his book “William Shakespeare,” George Branes writes: “We see her in the most various situations, and she is equal to them all. We see her exposed to trial after trial, each harder than the last, and she emerges from them all, not only unscathed, but with her rare and enchanting qualities thrown into ever stronger belief.”
Finally, Charles Van Doren has this to say: “When you have written 30 players, and know everything about writing plays, and in particular know that your skill will not allow you to make any really bad mistakes, you may be willing to take some very big chances and try some things that have never been tried before. This is what Shakespeare does in ‘Cymbeline’ and it is the reason above all why I love the play.”
Macbeth is a slow burn but one of the best Shakespeare plays out there. Since Shakespeare is rather familiar, though, let's focus on this particular edition.
Pelican produced a great cover and fit and finish on this book. It's engaging and looks great on the shelf. I'm dying to pick up all of them because as a series they will utterly dominate a shelf. Very striking, and the line illustrations are gorgeous.
Unfortunately, it's more of a mixed bag on the inside. Small margins and cheap paper feel disappointing. I'm going to spend the most time on the inside, so why would I buy a poor-quality interior? The Barnes and Noble series of Shakespeares, though much uglier on the outside, have really helpful notes and references throughout, and are printed on a spacious layout and great-quality paper.
Up to you whether cover or interior rules, but for me, I think I'm sticking with the B&Ns. It's a shame though, wish these were nicer on the inside.
I know that a lot of people think this is a play about violence, murder and mayhem. Well, it IS a tale of murder and violence with the mayhem that ensues as a result. However, at it's heart, Macbeth is a love story about a man and a woman who are so head over in heels in love with each other they can't see straight. Lady Macbeth is a real piece of work and manipulates her besotted husband with such skill, you have to stop sometimes and say "Waaaht?" I love the rich fabric of this story and all of the supporting characters. But I especially love Lord and Lady Macbeth, another of the Bard's star crossed lovers...magnificent.
In addition to everything else, an interesting study of alleged mental health issues in patients of different gender identities. Everyone is gaslighting Hamlet but no one gaslights Ophelia, because she is female and therefore allowed to be hysterical. Then again, her insanity defies gender norms, she becomes a revelled image, absurd and flamboyant, camp, and then a corpse: just like male figures before her, Yorick, Caesar and Alexander, jesters equated to kings by becoming dust. Hamlet, however, does not get the same treatment, and that's fair enough: he is, merely a placeholder for the pre-imperial inbred malaise that haunts the English court, and, by way of metaphor, the Danish kingdom. He is serious as a heart attack and dies along with the squares.
In the end, I think Horatio should have become president of Denmark, and we could have saved a bunch of centuries figuring socialism out.