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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.
This is a genuinely good work of drama, which I had to read for my Intro. to Drama class. This is one of those works of Shakespeare that has been done in a multitude of forms and variations, so it is quite likely that everyone has a rough idea of the story. Still, you really cannot replace the original. It's a bit odd, but quite good fun as well. The characters are memorable, and reading the story helps a great deal in understanding the numerous references to it that can be found elsewhere (not to mention, it's good entertainment). As to the edition itself, I found it to be greatly helpful in understanding the action in the play. It has a layout which places each page of the play opposite a page of notes, definitions, explanations, and other things needed to understand that page more thoroughly. While I didn't always need it, I was certainly glad to have it whenever I ran into a turn of language that was unfamiliar, and I definitely appreciated the scene-by-scene summaries. Really, if you want to or need to read Shakespeare, an edition such as this is really the way to go, especially until you get more accustomed to it.
I've never been a fan of Shakespeare, but other than "Macbeth", I really enjoyed reading The Tempest. I liked that The Oxford Shakespeare series provides insight of the play beforehand. It makes struggling students understand more about the themes and characters. The series helped me a lot for my literature class and the assigned essays (I passed my class with an A). It also made me realize how much I can enjoy reading Shakespeare if I take the time to read the plays and their accompanying analyses.
Guide for the Perplexed time (since Amazon's listing of Formats seems designed to generate confusion):
This is a review of the Mass-Market Paperback edition of "The Tempest" under the label of "Folger Shakespeare Library," published by Washington Square Press, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. It was first issued under the present label, with the yellow-and-mottled cover depicted on the page, in 2004. With its rich set of aides to the reader, it is a good introductory text, and contains much that will be useful to the more advanced student (although not intended to rival, say, the Arden and Norton Critical editions), and at this writing it is still attractively priced. It is part of a series of similar editions covering the complete canon of the plays.
The OTHER formats (paperback, Kindle, Audio) currently listed by Amazon are of completely different editions of the same text, without the facing-page notes, period illustrations, and other features of the Folger/WSP editions; some of them without even line-numbers, to judge from previous reviews.
Calling the newest version of the series just "Folger Shakespeare Library" somewhat confuses matters, since that is also the name of the actual sponsoring institution in Washington, D.C., which houses a major collection of Shakespeare editions, and related and period works of all kinds. Earlier printings of this text and notes, etc. (1994 and following) were under the label of "The New Folger Library Shakespeare," and differed only in having a pictorial cover by Kinuko Y. Croft. This edition is listed on Amazon, too, but its reviews are lumped together with those of numerous other editions. In addition, Amazon also lists a hardcover edition as being edited by Mowat and Werstine (not seen).
In any format, the Mowat and Werstine edition is also to be distinguished from its predecessor in "The Folger Library General Reader's Shakespeare" series, edited by Louis B. Wright and Virginia A, LaMar (1961; also from Washington Square Press, and possibly also under its Pocket imprint), with the same basic facing-page design, but different notes and illustrations, and without the concluding essay and annotated bibliography ("Further Reading.) Copies appeared in both an older, smaller, mass-market format, and in the current, slightly larger one. In this instance, the texts are not drastically different; editorial practices and standards have changed, but the text, not published before the First Folio, is relatively clear and unproblematic.
Those interested in a text edition of the play with notes restricted to the vocabulary, and without introductions on Shakespeare's stage and use of language, may want to take a look at Burton Raffel's "Annotated" edition, either in its paperback format, with the notes at the foot of the page, or its Kindle edition, with the notes hyper-linked to the text. The latter works well, but constant switching back and forth can produce a discontinuous reading of the play.
To turn to the text being edited: "The Tempest" was probably the last play written entirely by William Shakespeare, sometime in 1610-1611. It was performed at court during the celebrations for the betrothal and marriage of King James I's daughter Elizabeth to Frederick, Prince of the Rhine Palatinate, and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, an event momentous in English literature for the sheer quantity and, frequently enough, the quality of verse it inspired. Whether it was written FOR the occasion is debatable; topical references seem instead to center on then-recent colonization efforts in the New World (Jamestown, and, accidentally, Bermuda); and the locales are all Mediterranean instead of Central European.
Of course, given Shakespeare's "Sea Coast of Bohemia" (i.e., roughly, the modern Czech Republic) in another play, the argument from geography is not the firmest in the world. And, despite repeated arguments that the play is about European conquests and colonies in the New World, the repeated allusions seem to me more topical than thematic.
The compactly-told story is set on a single island, during part of a single day, and is the only Shakespeare play since "Comedy of the Errors," at the very beginning of his career, to observe so strictly the "Classical Unities" of time and space. (Although "A Midsummer Night's Dream came close.) Shakespeare could have spread the story over fifteen or so years, and three or four distant places, as in other plays, but in this case chose not to do so. This requires some exposition of the "back story," which is handled well, as one would expect from Shakespeare at the height of his creative powers.
Of course, there is a school of thought (or several) which insists on seeing in the tempest-raising magician Prospero an image of a tired Shakespeare on the verge of retiring from the theater. I admit that the notion is tempting, but Prospero himself, a testy old man, seems a poor image of Shakespeare, who, on the basis of the scanty evidence, seems to have been regarded as even-tempered and well-mannered (at least compared to most other theater-folk, or arrogant aristocrats).
Then too, Prospero's insistence on stage-managing the events of the play is not a new idea in Shakespeare's work - compare the behind-the-scenes efforts of the incognito Duke in "Measure for Measure," and of Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
For those not already familiar with the play, it is the only one of Shakespeare plays without a recognizable source for the main plot, although there is documentation for many details in the voyage literature of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, especially the earlier years of the Virginia colony. A few hints may have come from histories of Italy, but the names don't match up with any specific events. Most of the other suggested parallels to the plot are too general to tie directly to the play, although they may be helpful in understanding it.
The grumpy magician, his beautiful daughter, the handsome young hero, and the magician's attendant creatures (of varying appearances, and moral and intellectual characteristics), are commonplaces of traditional fairytales and medieval and renaissance romances. (Not to mention a lot of modern genre fantasy, and older or popularized science fiction.) So, too, are wicked brothers and scheming courtiers.
In other hands, these elements could have made a rambling crowd-pleaser like the then-popular "Mucedorus." Shakespeare, who was at home with plots spread widely through time and space, here makes them the subject of a tightly constructed play. As has long been noted, "The Tempest" is one of the few Shakespeare plays to observe the so-called "classical unities" of (elapsed) time and a single place, in this case, a few hours nearby and on an enchanted island. In this is its unlike most other Elizabethan and Jacobean "romance" plays, very much including his own earlier ventures, such as "Twelfth Night" and "A Winter's Tale."
"The Tempest" is one of my personal favorites in the Shakespeare canon. I'm not alone. It has inspired a long series of pastiches, retellings, parodies and satires, adaptations, operatic adaptations, and just plain productions. (My personal pick -- a purely sentimental one -- is "Forbidden Planet," the 1956 movie starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen, all upstaged by Robbie the Robot, in a double role emulating both the helpful spirit Ariel and the bumbling Caliban; and with an entirely different backstory.)
The formatting of this book is maddening. It's like it was cut and pasted from one incompatible program to another and then never proofed before printing. Text abruptly cuts off for no reason and is continued on next line. Also, stage directions are not bracketed or separated from text in any discernible way.
Observe this example from page 5:
BOATSWAIN: None that I more love than myself. You are counsellor. if you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more. Use your authority; if you cannot, give thanks you have liv'd so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap.-Cheerly, good hearts!-Out of our way, I say. Exit
I mean, what the hell was that? I will probably use this book to start fires. I hope the editor gets shot.
Amazon automatically edits out the awkward spaces, so you can't even get the full picture of just how horribly bad this book is.
I teach AP English Literature and Composition, and this is the first year that I included The Tempest on my syllabus. The Folger company has a website that contains some curriculum materials that I looked through for ideas, so that was a helpful resource. I decided to change up my curriculum since I knew that The Tempest would be running at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. I thought that going on a little evening field trip to have dinner and see the play would be a nice way to culminate the unit. Studying The Tempest was an enjoyable experience for the students, and seeing the play (that includes magic by Teller) was amazing!