• England in the Age of Shakespeare

  • By: Jeremy Black
  • Narrated by: Simon Barber
  • Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)
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Publisher's Summary

How did it feel to hear Macbeth’s witches chant of “double, double toil and trouble” at a time when magic and witchcraft were as real as anything science had to offer? How were justice and forgiveness understood by the audience who first watched King Lear; how were love and romance viewed by those who first saw Romeo and Juliet? In England in the Age of Shakespeare, Jeremy Black takes readers on a tour of life in the streets, homes, farms, churches, and palaces of the Bard’s era. Panning from play to audience and back again, Black shows how Shakespeare's plays would have been experienced and interpreted by those who paid to see them. From the dangers of travel to the indignities of everyday life in teeming London, Black explores the jokes, political and economic references, and small asides that Shakespeare’s audiences would have recognized. These moments of recognition often reflected the audience’s own experiences of what it was to, as Hamlet says, “grunt and sweat under a weary life". Black’s clear and sweeping approach seeks to reclaim Shakespeare from the ivory tower and make the plays’ histories more accessible to the public for whom the plays were always intended.

The book is published by Indiana University Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

©2019 Jeremy Black (P)2021 Redwood Audiobooks

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A Great Book to Listen to

This book is fascinating. It covers not just the plays of Shakespeare but the history they present as well as that of Shakespeare's own lifetime. Black shows this world to be quite different from our own, one where life is very much "nasty, brutish and short." It is also the period in which England is coming together as a nation-state and the modern world is beginning to be born. The author covers every conceivable aspect of the history, reality of daily life and subsequent uses of Shakespeare up to our current day. Indeed, the book is so dense that listening to it -- especially as read by Simon Barber -- would be much the more enjoyable way of taking it all in. Barber brings the text to life and does an especially good job reading the many snippets from the plays. I highly recommend spending some time with Black and Barber..