The Tempest (Pelican Shakespeare)

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9780140714852: The Tempest (Pelican Shakespeare)

The "Oxford School Shakespeare" series helps students understand and enjoy Shakespeare's plays. As well as the complete and unabridged text, each play is provided with an extensive range of students' notes. These include detailed and clear explanations of difficult words and passages, a synopsis of the plot, summaries of individual scenes, and notes on the main characters. Also included is a wide range of questions and activities for work in class, together with the historical background to Shakespeare's England, a brief biography of Shakespeare, and a complete list of his plays. For this new edition, the entire text of the book has been redesigned and reset to make it easier to read. Photographs of recent stage productions have been included and there is a new cover design.

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Review:

One of Shakespeare's most famous but also enigmatic plays, for many years the story of Prospero's exile from his native Milan, and life with his daughter Miranda on an unnamed island in the Mediterranean, was seen as an autobiographical dramatisation of Shakespeare's departure from the London stage. The Epilogue, spoken by Prospero, claims that "now my charms are all o'erthrown", appeared to reflect Shakespeare's own renunciation of his magical dramatic powers as he retired to Stratford. But The Tempest is far more than this, as recent commentators have pointed out. The dramatic action observes the classical unities of time, place and action, as Prospero uses his "rough magic" to lure his wicked usurping brother, Antonio, and King Alonso of Naples to his island retreat to torment them before engineering his return to Milan.

However, the play is full of extraordinary anomalies and fantastic interludes, including Gonzalo's fantasy of a utopian commonwealth, Prospero's magical servant Ariel, and the "poisonous slave" Caliban. The creation of Caliban has particularly fascinated critics, who have noticed in his creation a colonial dimension to the play. In this respect Caliban can be seen as an American Indian or African slave, who articulates a particularly powerful strain of anti-colonial sentiment, telling Prospero that "this island's mine, by Sycorax my mother,/ Which thou tak'st from me". This has led to an intense reassessment of the play from a post-colonial perspective, as critics and historians have debated the extent to which the play endorses or criticises early English colonial expansion. --Jerry Brotton

Review:

'If you are looking for a model edition - by which I mean one that is concerned to honour the text and to explain the processes involved in editing - this is it. 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.' Peter Thompson

'David Lindley's Tempest is the best edition on the market and the paperback is a snip.' Studies in Theatre and Performance

'Lindley aims both to represent and to explain the range of readings given the play in its theatrical and critical afterlives. His edition meets the high standards of the series in an exemplary manner, offering an especially fine introduction that focuses on the elusiveness of The Tempest, a feature that has made it central to late-twentieth-century criticism.' Barbara Hodgdon, 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 New Variorum 'Tempest'

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