Shakespeare is the leading playwright - and probably the leading writer - in Western civilization. His works are one of the greatest achievements of the human mind and spirit. And yet, for far too many of us, they remain a closed book. Why?
Professor Saccio is well suited in these 16 lectures to bring you back into Shakespeare's world and tune you into what he calls "Shakespeare's wavelength." As you hear him effortlessly deliver heretofore impenetrable language with the proper meter, emphasis, intonation, and emotion, you'll experience the pleasure that comes with true mastery. Professor Saccio also prepares you to read or watch the plays by orienting you to Shakespeare's use of multiple plots, lines of action, and the sometimes outmoded forms of human behavior (such as courtship in Elizabethan England) that arise in his plays.
Shakespeare was acutely aware of the importance of history - and not just of events but of ideas. You'll see how his tragedies and histories are meditations on the changing world around him and of the eternal issues of character and human nature. You'll journey into a world where actions and ideas intersect and raise profound and unexpected questions, such as how Richard III could be both a classic villain and a Renaissance figure, and whether a man such as Coriolanus can be a hero without a cause or a country.
To read Shakespeare is to take a daunting journey into a perpetually undiscovered country that reinvents itself with every visit. But with these lectures, it will become a familiar pleasure.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©1995 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1995 The Great Courses
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
If like me, you listen to these things as you go to sleep, don't use this one for that. The actual acting out of emotional scenes isn't conducive to sleep. This is a enthusiastic retelling explanation of Shakespeare's genius, the professor is definitely passionate about his work. I like that he doesn't go into the authorship question and doesn't attribute what Shakespeare wrote as autobiographical. Writers are creative, and good ones write about characters that are different than them. The man was writing to audience and wanted to sell tickets and poems and like any good writer, he took himself out of the story. What I didn't like about this telling is the professor doesn't say what is history and what is created for dramas sake. Calling Cleopatra a tramp isn't really helpful in illuminating minds with truth, I'll give him murderer though..
This course focuses too much on the professor and his sexual interests, which he attempts to connect to Shakespeare's plays. There is a camp quality to the verbal style, including long shuddering intakes of breath meant to communicate sexual excitement. The ideas are sometimes unusual, such as Prof. Saccio's belief that Shakespeare's sonnets are not biographical, but are perhaps an extended experiment in sonnet-making. I don't believe that is a majority opinion. I held out till nearly the end of the first half of the lectures, when a lovely quoted passage was so enthusiastically sexualized in the discussion that I turned off the book and deleted it as indecent. The professor frequently promotes his two other lecture series on Shakespeare for The Great Courses, but I'll want to take care to avoid those.
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