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Putting romance onstage, The Tempest gives us a magician, Prospero, a former duke of Milan who was displaced by his treacherous brother, Antonio. Prospero is exiled on an island, where his only companions are his daughter, Miranda, the spirit Ariel, and the monster Caliban. When his enemies are among those caught in a storm near the island, Prospero turns his power upon them through Ariel and other spirits.The characters exceed the roles of villains and heroes. Prospero seems heroic, yet he enslaves Caliban and has an appetite for revenge. Caliban seems to be a monster for attacking Miranda, but appears heroic in resisting Prospero, evoking the period of colonialism during which the play was written. Miranda’s engagement to Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples and a member of the shipwrecked party, helps resolve the drama.
The authoritative edition of The Tempest from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Barbara A. Mowat
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
Gr 3 Up‘The play is set circa 1610. Spirin expands Beneduce’s retelling by basing his lavish watercolors on Italian Renaissance paintings. Though the pages are carefully framed, highly ornate, and formally structured, there is plenty of leeway for individual imagination to make itself felt. Ariel is a decorative Renaissance angel. Caliban is given piscine characteristics and expressions that evoke the longing as much as the brutishness in his character. And the human characters have the complexity of portraits. Spirin’s illustrations highlight the fantastic while Ruth Sanderson’s landscapes for Bruce Coville’s version of the play (Doubleday, 1994) focus on the effects of nature. Both are valid. Coville’s simpler retelling is easier to follow. Beneduce, too, eliminates some of the subplots in order to avoid confusion, but her fuller text manages to incorporate most of the romantic, magical, and political elements. Within the main text, she modernizes the dialogue. This works smoothly for the most part, though it’s hard to see how “What a wonderful new world I am about to enter…” is an improvement over “O brave new world…” A few passages of original text are set off in isolated frames, for a sense of the poetry. Readers and potential playgoers will need to see the play performed to experience the comic scenes of Caliban and his cronies. Brief appendixes explain the context in which the play was written and the reteller’s choices and give an overview of Shakespeare’s life. This is a case in which an acceptably graceful text plays a supporting role to the illustrations. They are worth the price of admission.‘Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Prospero-like in their artistry, Spirin’s dazzling watercolors dominate this retelling of Shakespeare’s final play. Shaped like altar panels fit for a Renaissance church or palace, the illustrations are romantic, regal and magical, richly interpreting the play’s themes of betrayal, revenge and all-conquering love. A wispy ethereal air pervades island scenes, beautifully suggesting the atmosphere of enchantment, while Antonio and the King of Naples are pictured in brocade and velvet, the stench of power upon them. The other characters, too, are both otherworldly and very much flesh and blood. Especially well rendered is the monster Caliban, shown here as part man, part beast, part mythical creature, a sense of evil glee lighting his features. While this prose adaptation does not, of course, retain the full magic of the Bard’s work, Beneduce nonetheless provides an intelligent, gripping story. Several passages from Shakespeare introduced at key points give a taste of the original. Symbols and small pictures integrated into the text further enhance the lavish presentation. All ages. (Mar.)
Two of the bard’s heavy dramas join Yale’s wonderful “Annotated Shakespeare” series. Along with a heavily annotated text, each volume includes a scholarly introduction plus notes on the annotations. All that for the price of a Happy Meal; how can you go wrong? Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.