Much maligned and disfigured over the centuries, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale has become a treasure-trove for actors, directors and critics alike, attracted by the play’s curious blend of tragedy, comedy and pastoral, in a two-part structure separated by sixteen years—and a bear.
From Leontes’ jealous frenzy, represented by some of the most obscure passages in Shakespeare, to Perdita’s fabled speech on art and nature, or Hermione’s statue, the play illustrates the magical power of poiesis, while probing into the human condition.
Discussing the play’s key issues, notably the relevance of genre and performance, context and reception, time and truth, eloquence, innocence, knowledge, diversion and recreation, this book provides a useful theoretical, historical and critical background to perform close, personal readings of The Winter’s Tale, using both stage and text-centered criticism.
I. — From source to performance: determining genre and expectations
An arch-rival plagiarized? Dramatizing Greene’s Pandosto
Shakespeare and anti-Aristotelian theater, or the generic impasse
From page to stage: unsettling expectations, trusting performance
II. — Context and reception. Is there a context to this play?
The Winter’s Tale and the Jacobean Context
III. — Temporis filia veritas
An ill-timed play?
‘The time is worth the use on’t’: The Chorus and the Oracle
From syncretism to didacticism
IV. — Poisoning knowledge
Ignorance, sin and self-knowledge
The parable of the spider
V. — Diversion and recreation
Diversion I: Antigonus’ dream and ‘Exit, pursued by a Bear’
Diversion II: The mercurial Thief
Diversion III: Music, Dances and Satyrs
Statuesque recreation (diversion IV)
Conclusion. — A comedy of loss, redemption and remarriage?
Autour de l'auteur
Yan Brailowsky is lecturer in Early Modern Literature and History at the University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. He is the author of a book on King Lear (2008) and has co-edited Language and Otherness in Renaissance Culture (2008), and Le Bannissement et l’exil en Europe aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles (2010).