Shakespeare’s last plays, the tragicomic Romances, are notoriously strange plays, riddled with fabulous events and incredible coincidences, magic and dream. These features have sometimes been interpreted as the carelessness of an of an aging dramatist weary of his craft, or justified as folklore motifs, suitable to the romance tale. But neither view explains the fascination and power these plays still exert.

Originally published in 1987, Ruth Nevo’s book offers a reading of the plays which invokes the findings and methods of post-psychoanalytic semiotics. Drawing on a Lacanian model of the "textual unconscious", she embarks on searching analyses of Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, brilliantly illuminating their apparent absurdities and anomalies, their bizarre or preposterous events and obscurely motivated actions, their often puzzling syntax. Her investigation of the plays’ informing fantasies produces unified and enriched readings which serve both to rehabilitate those plays which have been less than highly thought of, and to disclose new significance in the acknowledged masterpieces.

Acknowledgements.  1. Beyond Genre  2. The Perils of Pericles  3. Cymbeline: The Rescue of the King  4. Delusions and Dreams: The Winter’s Tale  5. Subtleties of the Isle: The Tempest.  Notes.  References.  Index.