It is a Sunday, and therefore, I have a book to review! Out of the six books I am currently reading, strangely, I finished The Winter’s Tale first, even though I started it last. It is a library book, and so I can return it now…
I got the annotated edition from the library, in hopes that it might make my reading experience a little better, offering little explanations et cetera. I was willing to even put up with the ugly cover (it isn’t flattering to me, at all!) and an introduction (I dislike introductions to books). Unfortunately, on top of it all, I also discovered that the so-called “annotations” were not helpful at all! They didn’t uncloud the meanings of passages, but merely helped understand certain phrases that I was perfectly capable of comprehending myself! Thus, I have discovered — annotated editions are not for me.
The title was a mystery to me. To be honest, at first I partook to reading the title quite literally: a tale set during winter, where everything will relate around the circumstance that it is the coldest season of the year. Silly me! After reading a little bit of that confounded introduction, I admit, I became a bit more enlightened on the topic of the title. In few, 1. the winter’s tale can be alternatively understood as an old wife’s tale, something partially true, known to end happily, 2. a tale only good enough to pass the winter [evening] (the word ‘tale’ refers to something not to be taken seriously), or 3. it could be an allegorical title: revolving around the life-death-life pattern of nature and human existence. I like number three, but number one is good too: makes one think of a legend or a myth. A referral to the title in the actual play occurs when young Mamillius tells his mother, when she asks for a tale “as merry as you will”, that “a sad tale’s best for winter”.
The Winter’s Tale is certainly sad, but only at the very beginning. Leontes, taken over by jealousy, destroys his wife, heir, and newly-born babe, as well as his relationship with his best friend, Polixenes. However, after many circumstances shaped by fate and Time, the tale takes a positive turn, and much of what is lost is regained. For this reason, many critics, upon reaching a stupor as to whether thisis a tragedy or a comedy, categorize the play as a tragic-comedy. One of my past English teachers said that if a Shakespearean play ends in many marriages, it is likely to be a comedy (as occured with Twelfth Night, of which he spoke). In The Winter’s Tale, quite a few couples are formed by the end of it.
As to my general enjoyment of the play: I thought it was very good, and the least I can say is that I liked it. 🙂 My friendship with William is growing stronger, and I even told my mother (an ardent lover of Shakespeare) that I am beginning to love Shakespeare almost as much as she does, and definitely more than is usual to my age; to which she replied, almost in verbatim, “Now you know why I have his portrait on my dresser.” And I certainly do, just as she certainly does. And I have his face on my wall, too.