Shakespeare's Tragedies : The Great Courses: English Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Clare R. Kinney
  • Series: The Great Courses: English Literature
  • 12 hrs and 0 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Shakespeare's contributions to stage and language are unequaled, audiences left breathless for the past four centuries, his artistry as evident in moments of insensate rage as it is in moments of heartbreaking tenderness.
But beyond his astonishing feats of language and dramatic impact, Shakespeare also left us a legacy in the explorations of suffering and transgression offered in the six great mature tragedies—Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus—that make up the astonishing body of work he produced from 1600 to 1608.
This series of 24 exciting lectures from an award-winning teacher takes you deep within each play to observe Shakespeare's protagonists struggling to make choices in the face of competing social, moral, and psychological pressures and "clawing [from] their pain and horror," as Professor Kinney puts it, " [to] a kind of insight."
Whether you're a veteran lover of Shakespeare, someone new to his work, or an old lover returning after too long away, you'll find this course a delight, as Professor Kinney offers insights that give you a nuanced understanding of each play's meaning. It's a gift that will increase the dramatic impact of every Shakespearean tragedy you see on the stage or screen, or visualize as you read them, as well as enhance your ability to form insights on your own with each reading or performance.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enlightening and well presented

Professor Clare Kinney does an excellent job of bringing fascinating insights to each of the plays she speaks to in this course. Her lectures are well structured, the information is accessible for the lay reader and above all, these lectures will invite and encourage those who have only a high school or college course experience with Shakespeare's tragedies to invest the intellectual energy toward a deeper understanding of the plays.

Note that she doesn't speak to Romeo and Juliet, but (wisely in my view) includes Antony and Cleopatra. However, it would have been excellent if she had included both, in addition to the most popular tragic plays. Undoubtedly, she would also treat R & J with expert analysis as well. She left me curious and wondering what she would have to say.

I wish that producer of The Great Courses would have left out the music and clapping between each lecture. I find that a bit annoying and that it adds nothing to the audio experience.



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- Dan

Do yourself a favor - download & listen

What other book might you compare Shakespeare's Tragedies to and why?

Harold Bloom: Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. Brilliant insights into what Shakespeare means to us today.


Which character – as performed by Professor Clare R. Kinney – was your favorite?

Prof. Kinney effectively weaves dialogue from the plays throughout her lectures.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

In the final lecture about Shakespeare's last works, she was obviously touched by the plot of The Winter's Tale and the redemptive power of the spirit to move past tragedy.


Any additional comments?

I would have paid college tuition to attend this series of lectures. Don't miss it.

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- Mark

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses