This Is Shakespeare

A Pelican Book
Narrated by: Emma Smith
Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (36 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

What listeners say about This Is Shakespeare

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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

13 people found this helpful

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A badass audiobook about a kickass author

Emma Smith’s Shakespeare is not the stuffy academic poet with material ready for inspirational posters at work and with the answers to Life, the Universe, and All That. Instead he is a weird, brilliantly confusing and ambiguous author whose work elicits far more questions than answers. If you’ve tasted a bit of Shakespeare but didn’t quite “get” why so many people so deeply care about his work, or if you’ve been put off by the requirement to read a play in school which you hated, or even if you enjoy his plays but are looking for an offbeat left field analysis of the “canon,” then you have landed at the right place. Smith has plenty of academic credentials (having written books with titles like “The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Comedies” but this does NOT read like a textbook or sound like a class lecture. Highly highly recommended for those who like to think about literature.

5 people found this helpful

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An outstanding overview of Shakespeare

This is one of the most lucid, insightful, and interesting books I’ve ever read about Shakespeare, and if you have even a passing interest in his work, then do yourself a favor and read or listen to Emma Smith’s “This is Shakespeare.” Organized by play, the book covers a wide range of material outside the plays – the life (what we know of it) of the man, the times, the performance and publication history, literary interpretations. She deftly demonstrates the source of Shakespeare’s enduring power—how the plays evoke responses that echo our age, just as they’ve done for 400+ years. I suspected I would like the book – I was familiar with Ms. Smith’s scholarship – but I was surprised to find I loved it, and could not wait to resume listening to it. It feels like a set of really good, well-written lectures, and she delivers her own work very well. Highly recommended.

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Engrossing

Really enjoyed both the book and Emma Smith's narration. Interesting approaches to the plays at an enjoyable intersection of scholarly research and down to earth irreverence.

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Lilly
  • 09-11-19

A Reading of Shakespeare to Make Shakespeare Important to Anyone

Lucid, witty, allusive, and thoroughly compelling. The very best critical appraisal of a playwright I love, but others don't for various solid reasons, that I have ever encountered.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr. M. J. Cawley
  • 04-30-20

The best.

The best book (audio) on the subject I've come across. She has done a tremendous job of explaining just how great his body of work is. She blows away all the usual highbrow reverential nonsense. As she does it she becomes reverential herself, but in the right way. Up for hours last night.