The world that William Shakespeare creates in The Tempest has many features that make it recognizably like our own. There are bad, self-seeking people; brothers fall out with brothers; people who have power are reluctant to give it up; people fall in love; children love their fathers but want to break free. But there is also a fairy-spirit, music in the very air of the island, and a powerful magician who can command the elements and even, he tells us, bring the dead back to life. Combining reality and magic, Shakespeare creates an uncanny but morally coherent world.
This edition features interleaved materials that expand upon allusions in the play and explore elements of its stagecraft. Appendices offer excerpts from Shakespeare’s key sources and inspirations, along with historical materials on exploration and colonialism.
“I heartily welcome this new edition of The Tempest. In their introduction, the editors offer a deftly balanced, deeply nuanced interpretation of the play. While fully explicating its historical context, sources, and afterlife, the editors engage deeply with the play’s ethical ambiguities. They reveal The Tempest as a canonical play that speaks powerfully to today’s social concerns about justice, memory, revenge, service, freedom, and power. As the editors put it beautifully, ‘it is a quality of great works of art that they—unlike the people who make them—grow younger, stronger, more various, and more influential as they grow older.’ Long may it be so.” — Gail Kern Paster, Director Emerita, Folger Shakespeare Library
“This stellar edition of The Tempest does an excellent job of situating the play in its historical contexts. A splendid introduction and a well-chosen set of secondary materials will give students and teachers alike a clear entry point into the play’s noted interests in political and ethical questions posed by colonial conquest and other forms of usurpation. The vivid illustrations and longer notes interspersed throughout the playtext itself offer the reader an experience unique to this edition, beautifully illuminating the importance of visual art and staged image to The Tempest, Shakespeare’s most spectacular play.” — Adam Zucker, University of Massachusetts Amherst