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“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” Shylock in Merchant of Venice
1 Shakespeare Then and Now
2 The Nature of Shakespeare's Plays
3 Twelfth Night—Shakespearean Comedy
4 Twelfth Night—Malvolio in Love
5 The Taming of the Shrew—Getting Married in the 1590s
6 The Taming of the Shrew—Farce and Romance
7 The Merchant of Venice—Courting the Heiress
8 The Merchant of Venice—Shylock
9 Measure for Measure—Sex in Society
10 Measure for Measure—Justice and Comedy
11 Richard III—Shakespearean History
12 Richard III—The Villain's Career
13 Richard II—The Theory of Kingship
14 Richard II—The Fall of the King
15 Henry IV—All the King's Men
16 Henry IV—The Life of Falstaff
17 Henry V—The Death of Falstaff
18 Henry V—The King Victorious
19 Romeo and Juliet—Shakespearean Tragedy
20 Romeo and Juliet—Public Violence and Private Bliss
21 Troilus and Cressida—Ancient Epic in a New Mode
22 Troilus and Cressida—Heroic Aspirations
23 Julius Caesar—The Matter of Rome
24 Julius Caesar—Heroes of History
25 Hamlet—The Abundance of the Play
26 Hamlet—The Causes of Tragedy
27 Hamlet—The Protestant Hero
28 Othello—The Design of the Tragedy
29 Othello—“O Villainy!”
30 Othello—“The Noble Moor”
31 King Lear—“This Is the Worst”
32 King Lear—Wisdom Through Suffering
33 King Lear—“Then We Go On”
34 Macbeth—“Fair Is Foul”
35 Macbeth—Musing on Murder
36 Macbeth—“Enter Two Murderers”
I love Shakespeare. At the age of 9 I had read all of his plays by acting them out with my sisters because we had a complete set of his plays. That is what you did when you didn’t have hundreds of television channels or computers and it was raining outside. I am not a Shakespearean expert but more of an aficionado. When this Great Course came up on my Audible membership, I just had to get it.
The Course is a series of 36 half hour lectures by Prof. Peter Saccio Ph.D. from Dartmouth College. It is not merely a reading and dissecting each play, but more of an overview of the themes of Shakespeare’s plays and what we should learn from them.
I especially loved when the Professor pooh-poohed those ideas that Shakespeare didn’t write his own works as class bias and prejudice. I also enjoyed the modern takes on plays like “Taming of the Shrew” and “Merchant of Venice”.
I know that this course has set more goals for me in retirement. I would like to see all of Shakespeare’s plays either live or on dvd/video. I have already seen the version of “Richard II” on Amazon Prime this month.
This is what a great teacher will do for you. Challenge you to further your research and enjoyment by pursuing experiences that will continue your brain’s capacities.
Thank you Professor Peter Saccio for inspiring me.
24 of 25 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies the most enjoyable?
Professor Saccio is mesmerizing as he delivers his towering, balanced scholarship and insight. He rolls through the boring pedants and conceited 'critics' of Shakespeare with a superb intellect and deep understanding of how the theater works from the inside.
What did you like best about this story?
The analysis and exposition are simply the best I've ever experienced in any audiobook on any subject. Professor Saccio illuminates the Bard and his work from all perspectives in an even-handed and completely non-ideological way.
What about Professor Peter Saccio’s performance did you like?
As an actor, Professor Saccio makes the illustrative passages that he quotes truly come alive. As a scholar, he surrounds those bits with a rock-solid context. His performance is truly a tour de force.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Before listening to this course, I was, as the professor terms it, an anti-Stratfordian, favoring the Earl of Oxford as the true author of Shakespeare's work. Professor Saccio demolishes the anti-Stratfordian blather and atomizes their arguments in ten minutes or so. Bravo!
Any additional comments?
As a result of Professor Saccio's course, I will get a dozen times more out of any performance of a Shakespeare play than I ever have before. If you have any interest in Shakespeare at all, listen to this course!
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
loved this book. The narrator is excellent and his Shakespearean acting skills really come across.
If you want more than the plots this is an excellent listen. You get a real feel for all the plays.
The balance was great on how much time was spent on each play. Though the author could have talked longer and I could easily have listed much longer.
keep teaching :)
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Not really sure. I think so, but the guy reading stutters and makes mistakes over and over again.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Not really suited to this book. Hamlet.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
He stuttered and stammered the whole time. It was quite distracting.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
1 of 4 people found this review helpful