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Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare Library) Paperback – August 1, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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—an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare’s Romances and of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and their editing.

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King’s University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare’s plays.
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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; annotated edition edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743484967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743484961
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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