Much of the electric energy of the romances derives from this steady ‘mingling’ or crossing of factors. Cymbeline’s Folio editors included it with the tragedies because it is named after its king and has historical and epic dimensions comparable with, say, King Lear. Its finale gathers together in a reformed court the whole British royal family (king-father, princess-daughter, long-lost sons and new son-in-law); at the close, the Roman eagle melts into distance as the crooked smoke of altars climbs up to the gods’ noses. All this is grand and moving. But this long last scene also crystallises a reticent ludicrousness present everywhere in the play. It derives from a degree of stylisation, both verbal and dramatic, that is both brilliantly poised and full of self-mockery (this last scene demurely enfolds into itself every distress and trouble of the huge preceding action and unfolds them into what are – famously and countably – 27 dénouements). The same coolness regulates what is theoretically the comic side of the play. The heart of the story concerns lovers, but lovers neither truly married nor unmarried, and mostly apart: their last blissful meeting begins with a husband striking a wife. And the same mixedness strengthens The Winter’s Tale, which risks seeming to be two plays, the first tragic and the second comic: only the work’s own mastery holds them together, and resolves them at last. The Clown, narrating his and his father’s inclusion in the coming together of the royal family, says: ‘And so we wept; and there was the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed’; to which his father, the Shepherd, adds the comfortable antiphon, ‘We may live, son, to shed many more.’--Barbara Everett, Making and Breaking in Shakespeare’s Romances,
London Review of Books v. 29 n. 6, 22 March 2007
And so on, and on. For my money, this kind of stuff is worth the price of the subscription. Idle thought: we still get both the NY and the London RB. Is it just me, or is there general agreement that the London is far more likely to be engaging or surprising, far less deserving of being tossed out unread?