An enlightening and entertaining collection of the most esteemed love poems in the English canon, retold in contemporary language everyone can understand
James Anthony has long enjoyed poetry with a strict adherence to beat, rhythm, and rhyming patterns, which he likens to the very best pop songs. This drew him to the rewarding 14-line structure of Shakespeare’s sonnets, yet he often found their abstract language frustratingly unintelligible. One day, out of curiosity, he rewrote Sonnet 18—Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day—line-by-line, in the strict five-beat iambic pentameter and rhyming patterns of the original, but in a contemporary language a modern reader could easily understand. The meaning and sentiment—difficult to spot, initially—came to life, revealing new intricacies in the workings of Shakespeare's heart.
And so, James embarked on a full-time, year-long project to rewrite all 154 of the Bard's eternal verses creating SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS, RETOLD. This collection of masterful reinterpretations brilliantly demystifies and breathes new life into Shakespeare's work, demonstrating the continued resonance of a playwright whose popularity remains over 400 years after his death. Now, the passion, heartbreak, deception, reconciliation, and mortality of Shakespeare’s originals can be understood by all, without the need to cross reference to an enjoyment-sapping study-guide. Coming with a foreword by Stephen Fry, this is a stunning collection of beautiful love poems made new.
Read by Paapa Essiedu, James Anthony, and Stephen Fry
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“Listeners first encountering Shakespeare’s sonnets may have trouble with the language. Fortunately, James Anthony (who also introduces this audiobook) has put all of them into modern idiomatic English. After some explanatory notes by actor/novelist/poet Stephen Fry and an introduction by Anthony, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Paapa Essiedu narrates each original sonnet, followed by Fry’s narration of Anthony’s retelling. Essiedu leans toward understatement, letting listeners find their own meanings. Fry emphasizes the interpretations that Anthony has stressed in his versions. Purists will probably not like the modernization of these classics, but Anthony’s versions will help many enter the world of our language’s greatest poet. If only for that, he—and his excellent narrators—deserve our copious thanks. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”