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The History of English Poetry (Non-fiction) Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Sep 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • The History of English Poetry (Non-fiction)
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  • The History of English Literature (Naxos AudioBooks Histories series)
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  • The History of Classical Music (Non Fiction)
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Product details

  • Audio CD: 7 pages
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks; Unabridged edition (1 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626349158
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626349151
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 14 x 12.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Jacobi injects drama into this erudite yet fast-paced journey from 'Beowulf' to the modern myth of Eliot, illustrating through scores of generous quotations Emily Dickinson's definition of poetry as the cold which no fire can warm. --Rachel Redford, The Observer

Derek Jacobi brings this production together with a clear and lively narration of its introduction. The collection is a general presentation, rather than a scholarly tome, on the evolution of the idea of English poetry (and its American cousins and influences) and where readers fit into the tradition. In each era, the text addresses the question of what a poem was expected to be and do. These are illustrated by thoughtfully interpreted readings from works by more than a hundred poets by a group of skilled Naxos narrators. This critical history traces poets from Chaucer to Allen Ginsberg. --AudioFile

Derek Jacobi brings this production together with a clear and lively narration of its introduction. The collection is a general presentation, rather than a scholarly tome, on the evolution of the idea of English poetry (and its American cousins and influences) and where readers fit into the tradition. In each era, the text addresses the question of what a poem was expected to be and do. These are illustrated by thoughtfully interpreted readings from works by more than a hundred poets by a group of skilled Naxos narrators. This critical history traces poets from Chaucer to Allen Ginsberg. --AudioFile

For lovers of poetry, there is the excellent and fascinating audiobook, The History of English Poetry, read by famous actor Derek Jacobi (think Brother Cadfael and I, Claudius). The original book was written by Peter Whitfield, whose sweeping command of the subject gives us a wonderful look into the rich and centuries' old tradition of English poetry from the earliest writers to the present. While Jacobi reads the bulk of the book in his mellifluous voice, other readers bring to life various poems quoted within it, thus giving this work authenticity and colour to hold the listener's interest. --Alide Kohlhaas, Seniors Review


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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh with this review.

Perhaps, having heard the excellent "History of English Literature" (same reader, different author), I was expecting more historical context, and more extracts / readings.

Perhaps, having heard 'Words that Burn' and 'Catching Life By the Throat' (with intros read by the late, great Josephine Hart), I was expecting more biographical stuff about the authors.

But somehow, the angle and the balance of content in this book just leaves me a bit, well... cold.

But having said that, the utterly wonderful Sir Derek Jacobi never did a bad reading, bless his dulcet tones. So it wasn't a complete waste of my time, far from it.

Bottom line: if you like your books a bit drier and more academic - then fill your boots, people. But stylistically, it just wasn't really for me.
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Format: 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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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There truly isn't much more I can add to the above title, except that this Box Set is an absolute pleasure from start to finish! It is thoroughly enhanced, as one would expect, by the wonderfully silky voice of Derek Jacobi. He conveys himself with great vim, vigour and verve, and if you have a passion for poetry, then this is so totally for you. I have found myself purchasing more and more poetry books simply because of the feelings that this has stirred-up in me. It makes me so hungry to learn more about such an interesting and rewarding topic. Go on, lose yourselves in an idyllic Arcadia by purchasing this wonderful collection. You won't be disappointed! Trust me.
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