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Cymbeline

imogen, play, king, postumus, shakespeares and pisanio

CYMBELINE. Tragedy of Cym beline' is the last play in the Shakespeare folio of 1623. Its classification there among the tragedies is surprising, since the editors of the folio made no other such positive error of defi nition. One would expect to find this play in the list of comedies beside Winter's Tale,' which in style and structure it most closely resembles. It is likely that the early editors were influenced by the title, which associates with the two tragedies based on early British history, (King Lear' and 9). Current folk lore and fairy tales, 'again, offered a third source of inspiration, from which the dramatist drew in his treatment of the wicked stepmother and the romantic adventures of the disguised Imogen (Fidele). Much of the play's charm is due to the diversity of atmosphere and inci dent which it acquires from the masterly blend ing of these varied elements. Testimony of language, metre and feeling connects (Cymbe line) with (The Winter's Tale) and (The Tem pest) in the latest group of Shakespeare's works, and points to 1610 asprobably the date of composition. External evidence for this date is present in a manuscript book of notes on plays witnessed by Dr. Simon Forman, who

died in 1611. He gives a detailed analysis of the plot of

In 1633 (Cyrnbeline) was performed before King Charles I, and, as Sir Henry Herbert records, was "well liked by the king? It was rewritten at least four times to adapt it to the changing taste of later days. Garrick's version was extremely popular both in England and in colonial America, where it was performe=. at Philadelphia) as early as 1767. . Kemble, Kean and Macready — four great actors of strikingly different personality—were all successively famous in the part of Postumus, and they carried the play triumphantly through the period between the middle of the 18th and the middle of the 19th century. In 1857 Henry Irving played Pisanio to the Imogen of Helen Faucit; 40 years later, in 1896, he played Iachimo to Ellen Terry's Imogen. The two actresses just named are the most distinguished recorded interpreters of Imogen, the greatest role in the play; and Miss Faucit (Lady Mar tin) contributed also the finest literary discus sion of the part (<0n Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters,' 1885). Hazlitt's praise of Imogen is well known: "Of all Shakespeare's women she is perhaps the most tender and the most artless?