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This is a great introduction for anybody who wants to start from scratch with Shakespeare. The courses are geared towards an assumption that the reader knows very little on the subject, which ultimately makes for a clear presentation.
The professor focuses on a handful of Shakespeare's plays, going over the stories and then illustrating critical analysis tools, and putting them to work. This is the best part-- you first learn how he is going to analyze the play, then observe that very analysis at work. The idea is that you can then delve into these plays on your own with these collected analysis tools.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
This is a fantastic, but short, course providing techniques for understanding Shakespeare. As a precursor, I have always enjoyed the wit of Shakespeare and his command of language. Shakespeare mastered wordcraft like no one before or since, and I am awed by his ability to layer multiple meanings into a simple phrase. So, a reader of this review should understand that I am more than a little biased toward the Bard. The professor is more than a little biased too and clearly admires Shakespeare as the greatest writer in the history of the English language.
This course does not attempt to analyze all of Shakespeare's plays. Instead, this course presents interpretative techniques such as the "foul is fair and fair is foul" technique and the "block to love" technique. He explains various techniques, then selects a play where a technique works particularly well and applies the technique to that play. In that manner, the professor provides detailed analysis for about a half-dozen of Shakespeare's plays. The professor does a good job explaining the techniques and demonstrating the application. Though I was a fan of Shakespeare before this course, I feel better armed now to interpret plays. The professor shared new insights and thoughtful observations. The professor has made me even more interested in Shakespeare, and I look forward to my next opportunity to catch a play.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to How to Read and Understand Shakespeare again? Why?
Definitely! You could dip into each lecture separately. You could use the course as a refresher if you were going to watch one of the Shakespeare plays that the course deals with. It gives the listener "Tools" to help decipher the plays, that you can use throughout Shakespeare's plays.
What other book might you compare How to Read and Understand Shakespeare to, and why?
Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies by Professor Peter Saccio (also available on The Great Courses on Audible is comparable. It too, opens up the world of Shakespeare to the average person.
What about Professor Marc C. Conner’s performance did you like?
The Professor's performance is fantastic! He clearly loves the works of Shakespeare and he presents the lectures in a lively and engaging ways. He's acted in productions of Shakespeare, and his readings of passages from the plays reflect those experiences.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I listened to the course over a few shifts at work and really enjoyed it. I think you would get more from the course if you could listen to it one lecture at a time with a pen and paper so you could make notes and the relevant text in front of you so you can follow as Conner reads.
Any additional comments?
This is a really interesting course for anyone who would like to get the most from their love of Shakespeare. Its not too highbrow and anyone with a casual understanding of the Bard's work will enjoy it.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Never having read Shakespeare I started with these lectures to educate myself and can't wait to get cracking now as I feel I can finally understand something of his plays which before I felt ignorant about and hence avoided them !!