A book post I dithered about

Being March, it’s pretty much crochet all the way, in terms of blogging, but I do have a book left from 2009 to discuss. As the post title suggests, I dithered about putting it on the 2009 list at all, because it’s a play, that could be argued to have been performed (with an actor per part) rather than simply read. However, this is a Librivox recording, with the parts read, and I let in Pygmalion, which had the same issues, plus this was relevant to a 2010 book I’ve already discussed, so here it is:

75. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The first thing to note is that I studied this play in my last two years of secondary school, so I know it reasonably well. Still, there are always new aspects to a classic (or indeed any good) work, and that was several years ago, so it was time to revisit this one.

The second is that this recording has some very good readers in it. (A few good enough that I’ve noted their names, and the fact that they’ve done a recording ups its likelihood of me choosing to listen to it, like Andy Minter, Kara Shallenberg and Karen Savage. Others were good too, but haven’t come up enough for me to have paid attention to who they are yet.)

The editing together of the individually and separately read parts has been beautifully done, so that if you didn’t know that’s how LV play readings were done, you wouldn’t guess it from much of this. Very occasionally the tone of two speakers in a conversation doesn’t match, but this only really seemed to come up where very minor characters were involved. I can’t be sure, but at a guess, the major players conferred over what tone to take for their joint scenes.

So what did I gain from this version of the play? Well, an easy way to revisit it, for one. I generally dislike reading whole plays in print, as it rather belies the point, but at the same time I don’t get to the theatre all that often, nor do I have a television to see them there.

I’d never blame my very good English teacher, but I seem to have rather glossed over the play-within-the-play in the past, and not realised quite how pointed the references (nay, insults) were. I also realised that it’s not just the characters from The Merchant of Venice that I don’t really like (no, none of them), but these, either. Shakespearean characters can be ones I am interested in, and even occasionally care about for the course of the play, without my thinking much of their principles, or liking them much as people.

Anyway, definitely worth a listen!


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