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This Is Shakespeare

A Pelican Book
Narrated by: Emma Smith
Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of This Is Shakespeare, written and read by Emma Smith.  

A genius and prophet whose timeless works encapsulate the human condition like no others. A writer who surpassed his contemporaries in vision, originality and literary mastery. Who wrote like an angel, putting it all so much better than anyone else. 

Is this Shakespeare? Well, sort of.  

But it doesn't really tell us the whole truth. So much of what we say about Shakespeare is either not true or just not relevant, deflecting us from investigating the challenges of his inconsistencies and flaws. 

This electrifying new audiobook thrives on revealing, not resolving, the ambiguities of Shakespeare's plays and their changing topicality. It introduces an intellectually, theatrically and ethically exciting writer who engages with intersectionality as much as with Ovid, with economics as much as poetry: who writes in strikingly modern ways about individual agency, privacy, politics, celebrity and sex. It takes us into a world of politicking and copy-catting, as we watch him emulating the blockbusters of Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd, the Spielberg and Tarantino of their day; flirting with and skirting round the cutthroat issues of succession politics, religious upheaval and technological change. The Shakespeare in this book poses awkward questions rather than offering bland answers, always implicating us in working out what it might mean.  

This is Shakespeare. And he needs your attention.

©2019 Emma Smith (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

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Entertaining, up to date commentary

I’ve been traveling through Shakespeare for the last few months, reading and listening to the plays for the first time since college (a course on the histories) and high school — (R&J, Macbeth). I’m on my 25th play, and find the immersive approach works best for me. So in addition to watching some of the plays on film, I’ve also listened to lectures (mostly the Great Courses offerings) and some written commentary.

I’ve listened to about a dozen of these lectures over the last few days, and I’m impressed. They are insightful, entertaining and relevant. It is refreshing to listen to updated commentary. The #MetToo movement and fat shaming are mentioned, and obviously come to mind with Measure for Measure and Henry IV. There are some new tidbits I hadn’t yet come across (for example the black actor playing Othello interrogated for subversion during the Apartheid era in S. Africa). I highly recommend these, especially once you have read the plays. You can skip around to listen to the ones you’ve finished. They are narrated by the author.

Since I haven’t been able to find a list of the plays covered, I’ve listed the contents below:

Contents
Intro
Taming of the Shrew
Richard III
Comedy of Errors
Richard II
Romeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Merchant of Venice
Henry IV Part 1
Much Ado About Nothing
Julius Caesar
Hamlet
Twelfth Night
Measure for Measure
Othello
King Lear
Macbeth
Anthony and Cleopatra
Coriolanus
The Winters Tale
The Tempest
Epilogue

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 07-14-19

What fools these mortals be.

An in-depth reappraisal of Shakespeare's work which can be enjoyed by literature students and casual readers alike.

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  • Mr B
  • 05-10-19

Brilliant! Except...

... why aren't the Audible chapters given titles?!

Frustrating.

I love the context, both contemporary and modern, that Smith gives the plays.