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This review is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Cover of The Tempest (Second Norton Critical Edition)
Joseph BullockBlow winds and crack your cheeks
The Tempest (Second Norton Critical Edition) £7.95
The Second Norton Critical Edition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is, no doubt, a better iteration of an already authoritative edition of the play. The play itself, like its island setting, is distinctly nebulous and strange, yet it yields a great power largely due to its contrary senses of mystic wonderment and abject cruelty. Many editions of Shakespeare (and The Tempest) have dedicated and extensive sets of notes to help readers gain a sense of the influences and wider connotations of the verse, but this is something rather different. Indeed, the true value of a Norton text is almost as a sort of anthology, where one may indulge in a wealth of enlightening critical responses, influences and creative interpretations, in this case further legitimated by Shakespeare’s universal appeal and seemingly endless depth.

The influences for this unique play were varied and complex, ranging from Classical poets such as Ovid (notably depicted in the Golding translation) to other works by contemporaries of Shakespeare, such as King James’s Daemonologie; both are represented here in excerpt form. The latter assumes a more authoritative philosophical tone and is evidently an essential text that students may cite when speaking of the very real contextual information surrounding Shakespeare’s representations. If I am to honestly write about this edition in terms of its educational value, then I would say that the edition would comprehensively support an A-level student, though university students will obviously have to seek out books that are inevitably much harder to access. Indeed, one of the great joys of this book is how ...


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