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The Merchant of Venice [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

William Shakespeare
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Price: 10.14 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Sep 2008
Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, agrees to lend Antonio, a Venetian merchant, three thousand ducats so that his friend Bassanio can afford to court his love, Portia. However, Shylock has one condition: should the loan go unpaid, he will be entitled to a pound of Antonio's own flesh. Meanwhile in Belmont, according to the terms of her father's will, Portia's many suitors must choose correctly from three caskets. Bassanio arrives at Portia's estate and they declare their love for one another before he picks the correct casket. Antonio falls into bad fortune and finds he cannot repay Shylock: a dramatic trial ensues to decide his fate.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (29 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626348860
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626348864
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 12.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.

Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.

(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

Product Description


Thanks to an interesting coincidence, a new CD recording of The Merchant of Venice has appeared on the Naxos Audiobooks label. I finished listening to it on the very day that I watched an episode of John Barton's marvelous 'Playing Shakespeare' master class on DVD, in which Patrick Stewart and David Suchet switched Shylocks in some of that character s famous moments. Not only were their readings radically different, but their very bodies and facial expressions added to the masterful but different characterizations. I labor the obvious, because it is difficult to judge a performance accurately from an audio medium rather than from a visual one. I am sure that this Naxos version was based on the much-celebrated performance of Antony Sher as Shylock. I found it hard to get a good idea of how he might have looked on stage, but he came across vocally as a man who has kept his dignity at the expense of great suffering all these years, and is then driven into madness by his daughter running off with a good deal of his riches. The question of the play's possible anti-Semitism is best avoided here; but a lot depends on Shylock to treat the subtext one way or the other. The fact that the rest of the cast is just as greedy for money as Shylock is well handled, such as laughter at the money lender. Although his role is fairly small, Roger Allam creates a noble Antonio, while Emma Fielding (Portia) and Cathy Sara (Nerissa) handle their first scene with good pacing and humor. It is not clear if Portia knows in the trial scene exactly how she is going to beat Shylock, or if she is winging it, but any director would be hard put to 'show' that on a CD. I like that the Prince of Aragon (Sam Dastor) and Prince of Morocco (Ray Fearon) are not played as pantomime fools, but instead show just enough arrogance to get what they deserve in choosing the wrong caskets. Good grades go to director John Tydeman. Older recordings I have heard feature Tony Church, Hugh Griffith and Trevor Peacock as Shylock. This new set surpasses them all. --Frank Behrens, SentinelSource

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Will Have MY BOND! 16 Feb 2010
Format:Audio CD
This will always be a 'problem' play for modern audiences, but the entire cast of this production is outstanding and Anthony Sher may well be the best Shylock ever. It's worth listening to just for the pleasure of bathing in some great acting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare 22 Jan 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my husband, who is a great Shakespeare fan, and was not disappointed. This is a truly wonderful audio production. The excellent quality of the cast becomes apparent as the tale unfolds, and the story comes to life. We were pleasantly 'stunned' by the quality, and wish we could see this full cast perform the production 'live'. Excellent, wonderful, gripping. Buy it, listen & enjoy.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Merchant of Venice - A Review 17 Jan 2011
By Admirer of Classics - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This performance, a reading on CD, is very well done by an able British cast. The diction is excallent. The differentiation of character's voices is good. The character of Shylock can be played or interpreted in many ways. In this performance there is great emphasis on "revenge" whenever it appears in the text. Portia's infatuation for Bassanio is made quite clear. Listen to this performance as well as others get to know the many dimensions of this play.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Will Have MY BOND! 16 Feb 2010
By William D. Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This will always be a "problem" play for modern audiences, but this recording is a pleasure simply due to the great performances of an outstanding cast. Sir Anthony Sher, however, towers above all as perhaps the best Shylock ever.
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