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Hofling, C.K. (1971). Notes on Shakespeare's “The Winter's Tale”. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(1):90-110.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(1):90-110

Notes on Shakespeare's “The Winter's Tale”

Charles K. Hofling, M.D.

I.

For the student of Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale has a number of special claims of interest. Taken all-in-all, it is probably the best play of Shakespeare's last phase. It is the first play written in Stratford, not in London.1,2,3 It is a play which lends itself exceptionally well to a study of the changes from his source material introduced by Shakespeare himself— and, of course, certain knowledge of such changes can be of great help in furthering one's understanding both of the dramatist's skill and, if considered with care, of his personal psychology.

My professional interest in the plays of Shakespeare's later years began with the reading, some fifteen years ago, of Ella Freeman Sharpe's essay, “From King Lear to The Tempest.8 As is widely known, Miss Sharpe was, at the time of her death, engaged in what quite likely would have been the greatest piece of psychoanalytic literary criticism ever written, an attempt to study the whole Shakepearean canon in an integrated way, relating the works to the psychodynamics of their author. “From King Lear to The Tempest” is the most impressive fragment of this projected master-work. For its basic material, however, the essay confines itself to the two plays mentioned in its title. It has been my hope, starting with an investigation of Coriolanus 5 in 1957 and continuing with a study of Cymbeline 6 in 1965 and now one of The Winter's Tale, to deepen understanding of certain of the plays coming between King Lear and The Tempest, particularly with reference to the light they may shed upon significant aspects of Shakespeare's life and personality.

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