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Twelfth Night
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0671722948
ISBN-13: 9780671722944
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Release Date: October, 1993
Length: 272 Pages
Weight: 4.8 ounces
Dimensions: 6.7 X 4.2 X 0.9 inches
Language: English

Twelfth Night

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Completely re-edited, the New Folger Library edition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night puts readers in touch with current ways of thinking about the man and his work. The text is based on what the editors consider the best early printed version of the play. Contains explanatory notes, introduction, biography, and more. Illustrated.

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Customer Reviews

  Naxos complete recording the best so far

Please notice that G.H.'s in-house review above does not refer to the recording pictured above, nor do any of the reviews so far. What follows refers only to the Naxos set.

There are now three complete recordings of available. We have the older and elegantly read version on Harper Audio with Dorothy Tutin as the best Viola of the lot. Acted with a bit more verve though with less poetry is the Arkangel Shakespeare recording with a Scottish Malvolio and a cast of younger sounding actors who are making names for themselves in Great Britain. However I am very impressed with the "Twelfth Night" that is one of the latest additions to the Naxos Classic Drama series.

By far, this is the best-produced "Twelfth Night." One actually feels he is hearing an actual stage performance with all of the action but with the loss of none of the poetry. Perhaps the Viola does sound a little maturer than imagination would have her and the Sir Toby Belch a little less belchy sounding than others. None of the Festes sing as marvelously as did Peter Pears on the long deleted Marlowe Society recording (also with Tutin); however, on this Naxos set David Timson stays nicely in tune--and directs the production to boot. And he keeps things moving neatly along, which is saying a lot for Shakespeare recordings.

The CD version has the advantage of excellent tracking cues for not only each scene but for key points within the scene. The Harper CDs give a new track only for each new scene and the tapes (of course) are quite useless in that regard. The Arkangel series at present exists only on tapes but they are planning to reissue the entire series on CDs. So this Naxos release is the one of choice so far.

  the old texts

Neil Freeman edits the First Folio, showing how much "cleaning up" by most mosern text is unnecessary, and in fact, holds back information from the actor, director, and reader. Modern editors, even respected ones like the Arden, assume that Shakespeare couldn't have possibly meant to vary from the 10 syllable line and try to "correct" his "mistakes." To assume that Shakespeare was wrong and we are right is foolhardy, and Freeman's editions prove it.
  This is the best Shakespeare play on audio ever

Each of the Harper/Caedmon Audio series of Shakespeare's plays, originally recorded in the 60s by the Shakespeare Recording Society and now being reissued on cassette, lives up to a high standard of performance. But the "Twelfth Night" recording is, in my view, the best. The stellar cast includes a young Vanessa Redgrave as Olivia, and a hilarious Willoughby Goddard as Sir Toby. The scenes where Paul Scofield as Malvolio is deceived with a forged letter into thinking that Olivia loves him have a side-splitting humor that comes through even though the play is nearly 400 years old. The sound quality is excellent. I would have to say that this is the crown jewel of the whole Caedmon series.
  A Great Shakespearean Comedy

As a high school student reading Twelfth Night, I find it one of the finest Shakespearean comedies. It is the story of two twins, Viola and Sebastian, who become shipwrecked and land on the island of Illyria, both thinking that the other is dead. It includes a classic example of mistaken identities, in which Viola disguises herself as a man (in order to work for Orsino) and is confused with Sebastian. Sebastian is mistaken for Cesario (Viola's fake identity) by Sir Toby and Sir Andrew, and then by Olivia, resulting in their marriage. Sebastian's friend Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian and is thrown in jail when Viola claims she doesn't know him. These cases of mistaken identity create a comical mess that is only resolved when Viola and Sebastian appear together, and everyone understands what has happened. The mistaken identities in this plot also create a complex love triangle between Orsino, Olivia and Viola. Viola finds herself falling for Orsino, who she woks disguised as Cesario. Orsino sends her to tell Olivia that he is in love with her. Viola does as her employer wishes, and Olivia falls in love with Cesario. While all this is going on, the reader is entertained with Sir Andrew's hopeless attempts to woo Olivia, and with the trick played on Olivia's head servant Malvolio by Sir Toby and Maria, Olivia's uncle and servant woman. While it can be confusing to keep track of characters true identities, it is definitely a worthwhile play. Having seen the play before actually reading it, I felt this comedy was just as entertaining and enjoyable to read as to see acted on stage.
  Definitely one of my favorites!

I didn't read this particular version of Twelfth Night, so I'm rating the plot, not the editing. This book was the first play by Shakespeare that I read, and I loved it! It starts when Viola and her brother, Sebastian, are seperated in a shipwreck. Viola decides to disguise herself as a boy and work for Orsino, the duke. Orsino sends Viola to tell Olivia that he loves her. Viola does what he says, but she wishes she didn't have to, because she has fallen in love with Orsino! Then Olivia falls in love with Viola, thinking that she is a boy. While all this is going on, Andrew Aguecheek is wooing Olivia, who scorns him. Also, Maria, the maid, Sir Toby Belch, Olivia's uncle, and another servant write a letter and put it where Malvolio, a servant, will see it. The letter says that Olivia is in love with Malvolio. Malvolio immediately starts trying to woo Olivia. Maria and Sir Toby pretend to think that he's mad, and lock him up. Meanwhile, Sebastian comes to town with Antonio, the man who saved him from the shipwreck. Antonio gives him his purse and says that he must stay away from the city because he fought against the duke in a war. A few minutes later, Antonio realizes that he needs money for lodgings and goes to find Sebastian. In the city, Viola is being forced to fight Andrew Aguecheek for the right to marry Olivia. Antonio sees the fight and hurries to intervene. Orsino recognizes him and has him arrested. Antonio asks Viola for his purse so that he can pay bail, thinking that she is Sebastian. Viola denies having had a purse. Then Sebastian comes up. Olivia had found him and married him on the spot, and he, deliriously happy, had gone away to give Antonio his purse. On the way, he met Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek. When they try to force him to fight, he punches them and goes on. They come up too, bitterly accusing Viola. (No one has seen Sebastian yet.) Then Olivia comes up and speaks to Viola, who denies being her wife. Orsino becomes angry with her, thinking that she has married Olivia, and accuses her of treachery. Just as things are looking bad for Viola, Sebastian reveals himself. Then everyone is happy (since Orsino falls in love with Viola on the spot) except Andrew Aguecheek and Malvolio, who is later set free. The plot of this book is a little hard to understand, but it is halariously funny and makes for happy reading.