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A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599 December 9, 2007

Posted by audiobooksnow in Arts & Drama Audio Books, Biographical, Classic Literature, Shakespeare.
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An intimate history of Shakespeare, following him through a single year that changed not only his fortunes but the course of literature.

How did Shakespeare go from being a talented poet and playwright to become one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this one exhilarating year we follow what he reads and writes, what he sees, and who he works with as he invests in the new Globe Theatre and creates four of his most famous plays—Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and, most remarkably, Hamlet.

James Shapiro illuminates both Shakespeare’s staggering achievement and what Elizabethans experienced in the course of 1599: sending off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathering an Armada threat from Spain, gambling on a fledgling East India Company, and waiting to see who will succeed their aging and childless Queen.

This book brings the news and intrigue of the times together with a wonderful evocation of how Shakespeare worked as an actor, businessman, and playwright. The result is an exceptionally immediate and gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.

This audio includes a selection of scenes from Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet featuring performances by Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, and many more.

James Sharpiro, a professor at Columbia University in New York, is the author of Rival Playwrights, Shakespeare and the Jews, and Oherammergau: The Troubling Story of the World’s Most Famous Passion Play.

Listen to A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599



King Lear – William Shakespeare December 6, 2007

Posted by audiobooksnow in Classic Literature, Dramatizations, Shakespeare.
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King Lear by Wlliam Shakespeare is a bitter tragedy of loyalty, power and politics. Colin Redgrave stars as Lear with Geraldine James as Goneril in Shakespeare’s bitter tragedyof loyalty, power and politics.

BBC radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard.

Some of the most stirring scenes Shakespeare ever wrote vibrate with powerful resonance in this grippingly dramatic radio production. Tortured madness, pure evil and the fatal struggle for power grip the listener until the final, shockingly tragic conclusion.

The play is introduced by Richard Eyre, former Director of the Royal National Theatre, and the accompanying booklet includes a scene-by-scene synopsis, full character analysis, brief biographies of the leading actors and of Shakespeare himself, as well as an essay from the producer on their interpretation of the play.

Revitalised, original and comprehensive, this is Shakespeare for the new millennium.

Written By
William Shakespeare


11 September 1928

BBC Radio 3
16 September 2001

On location at the Chapel at Lincoln’s Inn Fields and at BBC Maida Vale London W9


Hamlet December 4, 2007

Posted by audiobooksnow in Classic Literature, Dramatizations, Shakespeare.
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Hamlet, which dates from 1600-1601, is the first in Shakespeare’s great series of four tragedies, the others being Othello (1603), King Lear (1605) and Macbeth (1606). In writing this extraordinary play Shakespeare effectively re-invented tragedy after an interval of roughly two thousand years – we have to go back to the Greek dramatists of 5th century Athens to find anything of comparable depth and maturity.

Hamlet Audio BookCertainly Shakespeare had already dealt with tragic themes and situations in plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Richard II and Julius Caesar, but in Hamlet he found himself able to fuse with complete artistic success the conflicting concerns of the private individual and the public state of which he is a member, or for which he may indeed be responsible – Hamlet is, after all. Prince of Denmark. This is a quin-tessentially Renaissance theme: it is no longer enough to appeal to an accepted moral or religious system, but instead each man must find out for himself a moral path through the ‘unweeded garden’ of life.

The first known version of the Hamlet story is found in the twelfth century Historia Danica by Saxo Grammaticus. Most of the main ingredients of the story are already present, albeit in primitive form, and some of the names, too -‘Amlethus’ for Hamlet. In 1576 Francois de Belleforest retold the story in his Histoires Tragiques, translated into English in 1608 and hence too late for Shakespeare to have read – but someone, perhaps Thomas Kyd, came across the story in the 1580’s and turned it into a play which must have been Shakespeare’s immediate source, however radically different Shakespeare’s version turned out to be. We know, incidentally, that the idea of a ghost seeking revenge comes from this lost play: Thomas Lodge in 1596 writes of the ‘ghost which cried so miserably at The Theater, like an oyster wife, "Hamlet, revenge. ‘"