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  • Mad About Shakespeare

  • From Classroom to Theatre to Emergency Room
  • By: Jonathan Bate
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Bate
  • Length: 9 hrs
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Mad About Shakespeare

By: Jonathan Bate
Narrated by: Jonathan Bate
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Summary

From the acclaimed and best-selling biographer Jonathan Bate, a luminous new exploration of Shakespeare and how his themes can untangle comedy and tragedy, learning and loving in our modern lives. 

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

How does one survive the death of a loved one, the mess of war, the experience of being schooled, of falling in love, of growing old, of losing your mind?

Shakespeare’s world is never too far different from our own, permeated with the same tragedies, the same existential questions and domestic worries. In this extraordinary book, Jonathan Bate brings then and now together. He investigates moments of his own life—losses and challenges—and asks whether, if you persevere with Shakespeare, he can offer a word of wisdom or a human insight for any time or any crisis. Along the way, we meet actors such as Judi Dench and Simon Callow, and writers such as Dr Johnson, John Keats, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, who turned to Shakespeare in their own dark times.

This is a personal story about loss, the black dog of depression, unexpected journeys and the very human things that echo through time, resonating with us all at one point or another.

©2022 Jonathan Bate (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Many of us are mad about Shakespeare, whether as audience, actor or scholar. Jonathan Bate represents us all in his enlightening, moving report of his own personal 'madness'. Reading it is an education." (Ian McKellen)

"A startlingly original journey into the soul of Shakespeare by one of his greatest living interpreters." (Sir Anthony Seldon)

"Jonathan Bate’s Mad About Shakespeare offers a series of moving lessons in the complex grammar of life. Speaking as student and teacher, son, husband, father and dramaturge, Bate produces a work of significant cultural and familial history that runs through the language and scenery of Shakespeare. Tying and untying knots, Bate asks how we might live alongside literature as a source of knowledge, comfort and hope. Shakespeare’s expansive plots and wise conceits offer extra space and time in which to live and breathe in the face of emergency; a literary bloodline offering wisdom, insight and consolation." (Sally Bayley)

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Enjoyable.

I enjoyed this. I’ve read a fair bit of the author’s work and found them a lot less pretentious and precious than many books about Shakespeare and Fitzgerald. They were biographies or critical studies so I was a bit apprehensive about the shift to the autobiographic in this. Shouldn’t have fretted though- it really is a very engaging book. It’s rather more discreet than is usual for an autobiography, to be sure, so if you want confessional sauciness, look elsewhere! He’s great on Shakespeare (natch) and his enthusiasm for Virginia Woolf really made me want to read something by her.
I also found it moving which I definitely did not expect. The authors’ narration adds to the general air of sincerity. A pleasure.

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  • International Roamer
  • 25-08-22

Splendid

Absolutely the most delightful book I have listened to, probably, ever. I was swept up in ever word and gained a deeper appreciation for the Bard. I especially enjoyed the authors reading of his work; it just wouldn’t have had the same impact upon me without his voice and articulation.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in English literature. I couldn’t unplug.

1 person found this helpful