The Tempest

The Tempest

The Tempest

The Tempest

Synopsis

Though written near the end of his career, The Tempest stands first in Shakespeare's First Folio of 1623. Recently redefined by modern criticism as a romance, the play has been read as an escapist fantasy, a political allegory, and a celebratory fiction. Most often, however, The Tempest is interpreted as a summary of Shakespeare's view of his own art of playwriting. In this edition, Stephen Orgel reassesses the evidence for each of these critical speculations, and finds the play to be both more open and more historically determined than traditional views have allowed. The text has been newly edited, and includes a stage history of its production, from the radical revisions of Davenant, Dryden, and Shadwell to the recent stagings of Peter Hall, Jonathan Miller, and Peter Brook.

Excerpt

It is a pleasure to acknowledge first my deep indebtedness to Frank Kermode's excellent Arden edition, which, despite a number of basic disagreements, I still find an indispensable text. My survey of the play's stage history took shape under the expert guidance of David Kastan, who generously placed his notes at my disposal. John Bender called my attention to the Henry Peacham emblem of the royal mage and to Stephen Batman's note on the identity of Carthage and Tunis. Students from my seminars at Johns Hopkins and the Folger Shakespeare Library have helped immeasurably to bring my sense of the play into focus : I should single out, for help on particular points, Laura Levine, Alexandra Halasz, Mark Rasmussen, Beverly Hart, and Mark Reckson. For references and valuable suggestions, I am indebted to Stephen Greenblatt, Sir Roy Strong, Nancy Wright, and R. A. Foakes. Some of the material in the Introduction has appeared in my essay 'Prospero's Wife', Representations, 8 (1984). The patience, intelligence, and helpfulness of the members of the Shakespeare department of Oxford University Press seem to me beyond praise, and I am especially grateful to John Jowett, who gave my text and commentary a detailed and acute reading, and many of whose suggestions I have adopted. Finally, Jonathan Goldberg read the whole manuscript, listened, discussed, argued, and always encouraged. This book is for him.

STEPHEN ORGEL

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