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Antony and Cleopatra Hardcover – Oct 5 2007
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|Hardcover, Oct 5 2007||
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About the Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But, in spite of that little problem, I really did enjoy the play and had little problem following the broad outline of what was happening to whom and why. Yep, I found this to be a very enjoyable dramatization, and I do not hesitate to recommend it!
And she's the center of Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra," a play that follows the tragic affair between Cleopatra and her second high-profile Roman lover. The tragedy is undermined by the fact that Cleopatra and Antony aren't very likable people, but the story does have an empire-ending grandeur.
Mark Antony has been neglecting his duties as a Roman soldier ever since he fell in love with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. But eventually Octavian calls him back to Rome, and Antony is even pressured into marrying Octavia's sister -- which unsurprisingly throws a wrench into his relationship with Cleopatra. She's only soothed by the assurances that Octavia is ugly.
In the meantime, tensions between the Romans and the increasingly Egyptophilic Antony are getting worse, until finally they break into full-out war -- despite the prophecy that Antony will lose if he fights Octavian. And the tempestuous love between Cleopatra and Antony takes a terrible turn as Egypt is about to fall...
"Antony and Cleopatra" is sort of a sequel to "Julius Caesar," and it's also half epic romance and half tragedy. On one hand, it's all about the passionate, stormy love affair between Antony and Cleopatra; on the other, it's also about the final crash of an empire that had endured for thousands of years, and its last monarch.
Shakespeare manages to fill the story with a sense of epic grandeur, and his writing really gets across that these conflicts and people are deeply important. Aside from the famous "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/her infinite variety" speech, there's a lot of powerful writing in here, particularly the climactic scene between Cleopatra and her maidservants.
The biggest drawback of the play is... well, Antony and Cleopatra are pretty nasty people. Antony is no longer the heroic Roman soldier of "Julius Caesar," and Cleopatra throws bratty tantrums and spreads false rumors to keep her boyfriend in love with her. They're a little like A-list celebrities -- they're weirdly fascinating, but you wouldn't want them as friends.
"Antony and Cleopatra" is a grand, engaging epic about how a love affair helped bring down the last remnants of an empire, and its nasty characters don't stop it from being fascinating.