The Winter's Tale is Shakespeare's most perfectly realized tragicomedy, as notable for its tragic intensity as for its comic grace and, throughout, for the richness and complexity of its poetry. It concludes, moreover, with the most daring and moving reconciliation scene in all Shakespeare'splays. Though the title may suggest an escapist fantasy, recent criticism has seen in the play a profoundly realistic psychology and a powerful commentary on the violence implicit in family relationships and deep, longlasting friendships. Stephen Orgel's edition considers the play in relation toRenaissance conceptions of both dramatic genre and the family, traced the changing critical and theatrical attitudes towards it, and places its psychological and dramatic conflicts within the Jacobean cultural and political context. The commentary pays special attention to the play's linguisticcomplexity, and the edition also includes a complete reprint of Shakespeare's source, Pandosto, by Robert Greene.