Item description for Cymbeline - Arden Shakespeare: Second Series - Paperback (The Arden Shakespeare. Second Series) by William Shakespeare...
The Arden Shakespeare is the established edition of Shakespeare's work. Justly celebrated for its authoritative scholarship and invaluable commentary, Arden guides you a richer understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's plays. This edition of Cymbeline provides, a clear and authoritative text, detailed notes and commentary on the same page as the text, a full introduction discussing the critical and historical background to the play and appendices presenting sources and relevant extracts.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 1969
ISBN 1903436028 ISBN13 9781903436028
Reviews - What do customers think about Cymbeline - Arden Shakespeare: Second Series - Paperback (The Arden Shakespeare. Second Series)?
Thick on Plot; Thin on Character Jan 5, 2008
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.
Overuse of Devices Dec 11, 2002
Cymbeline was a British king in Roman times ( Augustus Caesar's time). Devices used in the Play: 1) a woman plays a man/ boy role ( several of his plays : As You Like it, Twelfth Night)) 2) a deception by a villain to lie the virtue of a Lady ( Much Ado about Nothing) 3) Princes kidnapped and brought up as common men ( I don't know if he uses this in other plays) 4) poison that causes a coma ( Romeo and Juliet) 5) a Prince who is a vile fool ( used in his historical plays) 6) a Queen who is a plotter and evil ( Macbeth) 7) a Prince who kills another Prince and it redeemed by his hidden identity 8) a Prince sentenced to hang by mistake 9) a King who condemns his daughter wrongly ( King Lear) One wonders how much of this is historical fact and how much pure fiction. With all this scheming in the plot , it should be a very successful play. It is a total flop! What it comes out is seeming unreal and contrived. You get that happy ending feel that is so much in his comedies but it has a very false feeling to it. That's probably why Cymbeline isn't performed much. If he hadn't gone for all these at once it might have worked, but the result is that you see the playwright as .... If anyone wants to take the air out of a Shakespeare pedant, this is the play to do it with! He makes Shaw and Eugene O'neil l look good. He even make Rogers and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan look better, ha, ha... This play is not Shakespeare's finest hour!
A late, loony, self- parodying masterpiece Oct 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.
Simply Magnificent Apr 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.
misleading and outdated Mar 30, 2000
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.