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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars excellent coverage but wonky judgments, 11 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The History of English Poetry (Non-fiction) (Audio CD)
These discs cover a great deal of ground, introducing lesser known as well as famous poets. The information about the poets and the manner and object of the transmission of their works is also excellent.

I have two reservations about the set.
(a) I admire Sir D Jacobi, but was he really a good choice for this exercise? He is too much of an actOR [sic] for my taste: he declaims as if at a public gathering whereas one wants a more conversational tone. He reads little of the poetry himself...where he would have shone!
(b) Some of Whitfield's judgments strike me as naïf: for example, he claims that Shakespeare's works reveal his own clear moral or at least normative views. But surely Shakespeare was far too intelligent to tilt his plays in one direction or another: at the very least, Whitfield might have observed that tragedy is in many ways an account of how our attempts to lead a moral and fulfilled life come a cropper. As for the other plays, consider how many of the often conventional justice-is-done endings seem perfunctory and unconvincing. As for Shakespeare's poetic output, I'd believe that scarcely any moral commitment emerges unambiguously from them.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Sep 2010 13:50:16 BDT
Thanks for a very intelligent set of points here.

Posted on 9 Aug 2013 12:24:35 BDT
Actors should never be let loose on poetry. if you can't get the poets themselves (I'm partial to the ladies myself - Wendy Cope, Sophie Hannah, Stevie Smith - what wouldn't one give to hear Sylvia Plath? - and a particular favourite of mine Siobhan Campbell - but maybe it's those eyes..) then read 'in the head', at your own pace. No anthology has ever surpassed John Hayward's for Penguin (it has the inestimable advantage of the original spelling) and for background I swear by Kenneth Hopkins's baldly titled English Poetry

Posted on 10 Aug 2015 06:21:32 BDT
Very true. Actors generally cannot read poetry. They try to turn everything into a declamation on stage. Jacob's Lycidas is appalling as he puts emphasis on every word rther than certain syllables. Anton Lesser is as bad. I will noy be buying this.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2015 06:57:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Aug 2015 06:59:53 BDT
To my mind the worst is Alec Guinness's Waste Land. What actors see as *feeling* is no substitute for thought, understanding. Blaggers all! (Having said that, up to WW1 poets declaimed like foghorns.)
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