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Great play, but be wary of the edition
on 9 December 2008
I keep finding myself writing this at the moment: this is a wonderful work, but do think twice before buying this edition of the play, as if you need something to study, you'll be left rather high and dry here.
The other reviewer on this page has some trouble getting their head around why people get so excited about "The Tempest", and cannot see a clear "story" as in "Romeo and Juliet". But then, that's partly the point: that is an early play, sticking closely to its models and offering relatively little to doubt or to trouble the viewer. "The Tempest" may or may not be Shakespeare's last play (it seems to be the last play he wrote alone; he did collaborate on some other plays), but it is certainly a late work, written at a time when he was so well versed in what the theatre could do, and in the dramatic forms it had to offer, he seems almost to have pushed the boundaries of drama to their absolute limits. One sees here, three plots (at least) running simultaneously, with one central character, each one exploring different issues, and each one employing different dramatic methods. If one were to want an overview of the theatre in England at the beginning of the sixteenth century, one could do a lot worse than starting here.
"The Tempest" may be an odd play as far as its narrative goes, but it is wonderful in its poetry. It contains many glorious passages, sometimes coming from the mouths of the most unlikely characters, and for that reason it is worth reading.
The only reason I've not awarded this book five stars, though, is because this edition is not suited to all readers. Many students will find this very frustrating because there are next to no explanatory notes, and the provision of glosses is niggardly. If you're studying the play in any depth, you may well find a Cambridge, Arden or Oxford edition suits you better. If you want a chance to read the play in a cheap, disposable edition, this will do you well.