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King Richard III

King Richard III


King Richard III

ratings:
4/5 (34 ratings)
Length:
3 hours
Released:
Mar 1, 2001
ISBN:
9789629546892
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Kenneth Branagh heads an outstanding cast in playing one of Shakespeare’s strongest characters. The eighth production in the widely admired series of Shakespeare plays presented by Naxos AudioBooks in association with Cambridge University Press.
Released:
Mar 1, 2001
ISBN:
9789629546892
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest playwright the world has seen. He produced an astonishing amount of work; 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and 5 poems. He died on 23rd April 1616, aged 52, and was buried in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.


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What people think about King Richard III

4.0
34 ratings / 34 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    By far the most evil character in any Shakespeare plays that I have read. Hard to keep track of all the Edward's and Richard's and the female characters. I think it is pretty tightly scripted, prob because it is mostly historically accurate. Sorry I waited so long to read this one
  • (3/5)
    The Josephine Tey book I just finished got me interested in Richard III. At the same time, I've been meaning to read some Shakespeare, and since I've never read The Tragedy of KR III it seems like a good place to start. I seldom read Shakespeare but I always enjoy it when I do. I remember loving a Shakespeare class at BYU. I took it summer term from Nan Grass, and some sessions we met in her family cabin in Provo Canyon--Vivian Park for those who know it. Great memories!
  • (4/5)
    (My first book finished during the readathon!)

    I don't like reading plays, really. I much prefer to see them performed -- they make much more sense when you do. And I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare: either he's too modern for me or not modern enough (my interest peters out shortly after Malory, ish, and doesn't revive until it starts to struggle back to life with Austen -- and even then...). No doubt some of you are just itching to say (probably not the first time) that I must be a pretty crappy lit student. To which I say, pfffttt. There's more to literature than Shakespeare.

    Still, I did think I would take at least one module on Shakespeare -- not counting the Renaissance Lit module I've already done -- and so I'm doing one on the history plays, starting with Richard III. In my experience of reading plays, this is an extremely compelling one. It's never boring, and there's a lot of quick back-and-forth, particularly between Richard and Anne, and Richard and Elizabeth, that's wonderful to read (better yet, I imagine, to see). Richard's a horribly compelling character, though I found that shone through best in the first act.

    It's funny how many Shakespearean references I make without knowing exactly where they come from. I found several in this play. Now I know!
  • (4/5)
    Richard, you hero, you villain. I am not sure how I feel about this play, I might have done a bad reading of it originally. But I am enraptured with Richard III any way. He did great things for the poor, he murdered children. He was the last King to die on the battlefield, he wasn't a legitimate King anyway. Sly, cunning, vicious and ambitious, Richard III is coming close to taking Macbeth away as my favourite Shakespeare.
  • (4/5)
    Following the deaths of Edward IV and Edward V in 1483, Richard III becomes monarch of England. It is quite a bit into the play before we are introduced to Richard III, but when we are, we see him as a tyrant. What a vivid picture of his wickedness Shakespeare paints! One can't help but wonder if the people of England didn't sing, "Ding, dong, the king is dead, the wicked king is dead" when he died a couple of years after assuming the throne. I really think I'd love to see this one performed live. I may have to settle for a movie version, but I really think that live would be preferable.
  • (4/5)
    I've just seen the wonderful Kevin Spacey / Sam Mendes production which opened at the Old Vic this year and is on a world tour. An amazing production and a superlative performance by Spacey.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this play, and it was only enhanced by the audio version bringing it to life. It was an interesting follow-up to Tey's A Daughter of Time, which presents a very different picture of Richard and his character and motivations. I remember having tickets I couldn't use to McKellen's Richard years ago and I'm sorry I've never seen this play on stage.
  • (5/5)
    I think that almost everyone knows Shakespeare's verson of the story of the monstrous King Richard III, how he plotted the murder of anyone who stood in the way of his gaining the crown of England. This was certainly not my first encounter with Shakespeare. I've read his work several times before. However, I seem to have missed the history plays, until now.I'm embarrassed to admit, that this is also the first time that I've felt the magic of Shakespeare. It's the first time I've been held in the thrall of the power of his words.I've always enjoyed his work, but I never understood what all the fuss was about. Now I get it.
  • (5/5)
    Richard, literature's greatest monster of indignation? I can't help but compare him to Iago--really can't help it, because the Richard I saw Bob Frazer play at Bard on the Beach the other night and the Iago I saw him play back in 2009 have such suggestive similarities. Iago gets archetypalized, and all too often played, as the moustache-twirling villain--the spider, the blot, the malignancy who fools everyone, inexplicably. But there shouldn't be anything inexplicable about it. He's "honest Iago", and it's in that that his awfulness lies. Frazer plays him that way--the bluff young honest handsome quick-witted hero of the wars against the Turk, the least villainous of all the characters in the play until he ushers you in. You expect him to flush some kid's head down the toilet, maybe, but not destroy lives.Is it too much to posit that the difference between real evil and the "mere" twisted and wrong that is the distillation of human pain is the difference between foulness with a fair face and foulness that looks foul? I've been thinking a lot about the limits of responsibility lately, and toying with the probably extreme but seductive and satisfying viewpoint that nobody's responsible for anything, ever, in a transcendent or a moral way. I don't know if I really believe it, but it leaves us with a principle to be debated when we come back to the question of where we forgive and where we condemn--malice that comes out of success, esteem, trust, handsomeness, camaraderie, triumphs aplenty, like Iago's: that is evil. But it's hard to say what good the principle really is in our practical ethical dilemmas, given that we can never really know anyone well enough to pass that kind of judgment. I guess it leaves us with a theoretical but indeterminate principle of evil, in theory, for now.And that's where Frazer's Richard comes in. He is the malignancy, the blot, the Spider King. Quite literally that, rushing forward on his crutches like a bug up your face and then when you* sweep it frantically away and twist it, crumple and break it without anywise meaning to, that's when he shows you that the ugly and bent is not the weak and broken and jumps down your throat dripping with poison. But nobody is taken in. They hate him because he's ugly, but their desire to seem unafraid causes them to act nonchalant, even to find excuses in his royal blood to treat him as part of the band of brothers.They make him with their horror and hypocrisy, and he kills them all, of course. And of course the logic I've outlined makes this a perfect story for Shakespeare, and this being Shakespeare, Richard is of course doomed as well. He's a magnificent character, one of the all-time gross and great, and let me say again for the record that Frazer played him magnificently, with his liplicking and hatred and glee. I don't think this is a perfect play, by any means; it hangs so crucially on the protagonist (here I've spent this whole review talking about him, well, and Iago, I guess) and everyone else seems window-dressing; it would have been fascinating if the venial lords who convince themselves Richard's just another one of them, to be trusted just as far and no further than they are, had come to quickened threatening life, if this in its first half had been a play about machinations and not inevitable rise, and only then in the second act, as it is, a play about inevitable downfall, it would have been more compelling I think to a 21st-century audience. This leads into a more general discomfort with great-man history from my perspective, but one which again I think a more balanced picture of the political manoeuvrings would have done something to help address, since it is undoubtedly two that back then only the gentry counted, be they great or no. I think the comedic scenes in this one, especially the conscience-searching before the murder of Clarence, are especially good; I think the primes steal the scene in their brief appearance, and if that hammers home the logic of their murder in a grimy way, which is good, it also means they're removed from the stage, which is dramaturgically bad; I think the whole second act, where England descends into fascist dark and then the bullies come back from polo or whatever in France and fight and win, and we're glad that the doofy brute Richmond, and not his opposite number livid broken sad Richard, wins, is not inferior to Lolita in the ways it makes us complicit (while still giving us some sweet fight scenes and brooding-lord pageantry, climaxing in the incredible ghost scene, which I wonder if it's the first instance of the ol' "it was only a dream" cliche, don't you?). But it's imbalanced in the end by the concentrated enmity of the figure at its centre. Not a perfect play; but Richard goes on the long shortlist of literature's most perfectly turned characters.*you are the Lady Anne, you are Elizabeth Woodville, you are the men too, in the unmanned way an Elizabethan blood might have felt when stumbling into a nest of creepy-crawlies, but predominantly, let it be noted, you are the women, whose desire to protect makes them susceptible to Richard in the way that the men's asshole revulsion at the bent makes them not. Men created Richard the monster, perhaps, and women made his success as monster possible. In that light, his relationship with his mother, a hard woman, takes on an interesting light, as well as the fact that it's Queen Margaret's curse that brings him down. I don't endorse the idea of a perversion of women's 'natural role' that I see in this play, Master Will, but I do fear me it's there.
  • (4/5)
    Great drama, a somewhat... um... flexible attitude to history, and scarcely a character alive by the end. There are the famous lines ("Now is the winter of our discontent"; "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!") and some that really ought to be more famous ("fair Saint George,/ Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!"). Very entertaining.
  • (5/5)
    It took awhile to get into Richard III - it's set during/just after the War of the Roses, and there's a lot of politics going on that are pretty obscure now. However, reading it as a tragedy with a touch of modern thriller makes it awesome. Richard is brother to the sickly king, and a very respected military officer, but he craves more power and admiration than that. He has to work his way through most of his family and acquaintances though, picking them off one by one, to capture the crown. He's a master of manipulation and psychology, yet throughout the play we see Richard's own psyche and facades crumbling beneath the weight of this single-minded obsession. Wonderful, thrilling play that is completely worth the work to get through
  • (3/5)
    My first Shakespeare history: I've been avoiding them for years. I care too much about keeping everything straight: the four characters named Richard, the handful of Edwards, the nobility calling each other by their titles sometimes, their Christian names other times. And then titles will change. And I care about the events and the lineages and I manage to get all wound up and muddled and frustrated.Of course it's better if you just read it as a play. And for that, it still has a profoundly different tone than the tragedies or the comedies. There's a lot of vitriol here. Not a lot of subtlety. Strong female characters. A LOT of characters. Children.It wasn't my favorite. It wasn't my least favorite. It was more of another notch in my complete-works-of-the-Bard-read stick.
  • (3/5)
    I never thought I would enjoy this as much as I did, and the Ian McKellen adaptation of this just makes it even better.
  • (2/5)
    Not a big fan of Shakespeare's history plays. See some of the film and stage adaptations of this play...they're more entertaining.
  • (4/5)
    Shakespeare's history of Richard III reads like a tragedy. Of course the tragic thing is that the hero is so despicable, yet it is hard to dislike him too much, he has such good lines. "Now is the winter of our discontent . . ." the play opens and the reader is swept up by the perfidy and creative conniving of Richard. As his plans thicken he seems to be succeeding, only to fail in the end as his apparent allies fail him and turn. Filled with some of the best poetry of the early Shakespeare this play is deservedly one of his most popular creations.
  • (3/5)
    Shakespeare's take on Richard III. Very dark historical play, but just a play. Mostly inaccurate historically though.Very long play, S's 2nd longest just behind Hamlet.
  • (4/5)
    After reading and watching this play, I have now “heard” it. What I noticed, in this version, was that the effect of hearing was to level the players. Richard III is usually regarded as having one interesting character and many boring ones, and so being dependent on a show-stopping performance by the lead to make a performance watchable. Here, the lead actor, David Troughton, is good as the king but not domineering. Instead of ruining the performance, though, his refusal to chew scenery allows the other actors to bring their characters to life. Especially memorable are rages of a furious, dying Edward IV at the backbiting court that failed to protect his brother from himself and the lesson Queen Margaret gives Queen Elizabeth in the art of cursing. I was also happy to find this production unabridged.
  • (3/5)
    1592-93, enorm populair; flamboyante persoonlijkheid, gezicht van het kwaadPrachtige opening met monoloog door Gloucester waarin hij de innerlijke drijfveer voor zijn slechtheid blootlegt (ik ben niet geschikt voor vrede, rust en hoofse liefde?).Nogal rauw en bloeddorstig, geen spoor van moraal. Confrontatie met dame Anna: vurig, maar snelle ommezwaai na stroperige ode over haar schoonheid. Mengeling van brutale verbale confrontaties en cynische humor (de 2 beulen die een beetje last hebben van hun geweten als ze Clarence moeten doden); subliem woordenspel tussen de jonge prins van York en Gloster en Buckingham (III,1).Verschillende sc?nes met klagende vrouwen. ?s Nachts voor de slag: knagend geweten van RichardSlotpleidooi van Richmond en consecratie van de TudurdynastieImpressie: sterk, ?fierce?, maar de vrouwenstukken zijn het subtielst.
  • (3/5)
    1592-93, enorm populair; flamboyante persoonlijkheid, gezicht van het kwaadPrachtige opening met monoloog door Gloucester waarin hij de innerlijke drijfveer voor zijn slechtheid blootlegt (ik ben niet geschikt voor vrede, rust en hoofse liefde”).Nogal rauw en bloeddorstig, geen spoor van moraal. Confrontatie met dame Anna: vurig, maar snelle ommezwaai na stroperige ode over haar schoonheid. Mengeling van brutale verbale confrontaties en cynische humor (de 2 beulen die een beetje last hebben van hun geweten als ze Clarence moeten doden); subliem woordenspel tussen de jonge prins van York en Gloster en Buckingham (III,1).Verschillende scènes met klagende vrouwen. ’s Nachts voor de slag: knagend geweten van RichardSlotpleidooi van Richmond en consecratie van de TudurdynastieImpressie: sterk, “fierce”, maar de vrouwenstukken zijn het subtielst.
  • (5/5)
    Killing Frenzy: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Burton Raffel, Harold Bloom Published 2008.


    A typical king;
    Killed everybody who got in his way;
    A typical fat slob of a king;
    Out to get his own greedy needs met;
    Uses every individual who crossed his path;
    More often than not, slap happy drunk;
    Seen on numerous occasion dancing amongst the moon lit paths;
    Often times his royal trousers would fall to his ankles causing the King to fall face down.

    Was Shakespeare’s Richard any different from some of the politicians we all know so well? The only difference is that they're not allowed to get away with it as much, what with the paparazzi and all.

    I finished reading this, Richard III, prior to go see him in the theatre. Even in Portuguese I felt as if I’d come under a spell. What marvelous language. Everyone knows this. It’s obvious, but does everyone really know it? It’s different to know than to experience. And I’ve experienced, once again, the glory of his language in this story.

    Read on, if you feel so inclined.
  • (4/5)
    Round after round of scheming, skulking, and stabbing, interspersed with wailing and recriminations. Betrayals, betrothals, beheadings. Part of my dissatisfaction with this play undoubtedly is due to coming to this straight from Henry VI, parts 1, 2, and 3. A little over a year ago, though, I read “The Henriad” – Richard II, Henry IV pts 1 and 2, and Henry V, and enjoyed it very much, and it seemed as though this “set” should be just as good. But it's not. The Henriad offers a lot of variety in characters, types of action, tone, etc. This, not so much. The Henry VI trilogy provides a fairly unvaried menu of murder and mayhem, and Richard III, even with Richard vamping it up as Diabolical Villain Extraordinaire and the “Greek chorus” of Margaret, Elizabeth, the Duchess of York, and Anne (which is a wonderful touch!), is much of a muchness. Even the most tender-hearted reader gets to the point where the tearful pleas of soon-to-be murder victims leave her unmoved. Which, especially in this play, which lacks any sort of humor except of the ironic variety, or any scenes of love, except for in mourning, or any scenes of nobility, faithful friendship, courage, hope, etc., leaves little else to maintain readerly interest. This reader, at least, was motivated to keep doggedly reading/listening only by anticipation of Richard's profoundly well-deserved end. No matter how unpleasant a person Henry VII may have been in real life, in this play, as Shakespeare intended, he is a blessed ray of sunshine in the ugly world of gloom and corruption these endlessly feuding nobles have created.I read this in the Arden edition of Richard III while listening to the audio recording by Naxos, featuring Kenneth Branagh (as Richard), Geraldine McEwan, etc. It was excellently done, but Branagh's Richard did more giggling and evil chortling than I thought was strictly necessary. The Arden Shakespeare is lovely, with bright white paper and reasonable size print, but I missed the simpler, more useful footnotes which the RSC edition of Henry VI pts 1-3 provided.
  • (4/5)
    Settling back in my chair to think about what I’ve read . . .Remember when, in Patton, George C. Scott exclaims, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book!”?It’s possible to imagine an unnamed candidate exclaiming in admiration after election to presidential office, “Shakespeare, you magnificent bastard. I did it like Richard III!” (Or possibly he’d say, “like Richard Three”).What might I mean?To begin with, Shakespeare has made this Richard III fellow so grotesquely grotesque that it’s hard to think how one might endure a play about him, and not a short play either. He hardly needed grotesqueness of body too. He is a pillar of grotesquerie. And it doesn’t help that he suffers from Asinine Distemper Syndrome.<SPOILER NOTICE: The discussion that follows is partially a synopsis. Several events in the play are revealed.>The action opens with Richard acquainting us with his newest plan: “I am determined to prove a villain.” In this he does not lie. It’s barely possible for his interest to be captured by any other ambition, whether he is capering in this play or in Shakespeare’s telling of the reign of King Henry VI. We immediately learn that he has laid plots to set his brother Clarence “in deadly hate” against his other brother who is, for the moment, king. Well, who’d have guessed? Every reader of the Henry VI saga, I’d say. Facing the predictability of it all, one is tempted to cry, “A hearse, a hearse! What boredom, bring a hearse!”Nonetheless, Richard surprises with how successfully he manipulates others to his ends when he is so minded. Having previously killed Lady Anne’s husband plus her father-in-law (Henry VI), he manufactures from these actions a romantic advantage. What though I killed her husband and her father?The readiest way to make the wench amendsIs to become her husbandIt takes some convincing but somehow the noble “wench” softens toward his intent and becomes his wife. Next an encounter with Margaret, Henry VI’s widow, who as a jewel of antagonistic behavior is almost a clone of Richard’s soul. Here Richard accomplishes something deft. While Margaret’s spite is obdurate—she resembles Richard greatly in capacity for distemper—Richard scores bonus points with the nobles witnessing their exchange. They go away impressed at his “virtuous and Christian-like” and prayerful manner. No matter that Richard has won their good opinion by feigning Christian conduct. Appositely, the Editor’s note here cites Milton’s Eikonoklastes: “The deepest policy of a tyrant hath ever been to counterfeit religious.” The reader can only shake his head.Later, in a scene similar to the wooing of his by now deceased first wife, Richard, having killed Queen Elizabeth’s two young sons, bids her intercede to persuade her daughter to marry him. When she complains, saying her sons are “Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their graves,” he rebuts “Harp not on that string, madam; that is past.”Swell guy. Still, the unapologetic Richard sways her. To her protest “Yet thou didst kill my children,” he replies: But in your daughter’s womb I bury them:Where in the nest of spicery, they will breedSelves of themselves, to your recomfiture.Crass modern translation: “Yeah, your sons are ****ing dead. You’ll feel better by setting it up so I can **** your daughter too.” So Elizabeth agrees. Give her credit. Richard had to pursue his goal patiently for 174 lines (believe me, that’s a lot of lines) before she gave consent.Just after Elizabeth leaves to bring Daughter the unexpected news, Richard brands her a “Relentless fool.” Nothing so arouses his contempt as giving in to what he wants. Nothing arouses his ire more than opposing what he wants. Richard, how in good conscience do you do the things you do? He kindly explains:For conscience is a word that cowards use,Devis’d at first to keep the strong in awe:Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.One feels sure even Socrates would fail to convince him otherwise.Settling back in my chair to think about what I’ve read . . . Well, perhaps you now imagine an unnamed candidate too. And that’s why you should read Richard III.
  • (5/5)
    Despair and die!, spoken by a ten year old, is the highlight of any performance.
  • (5/5)
    It wasn't by design, but I managed to save a great play for my final Shakespare (because apocrypha be damned.) Richard III was one definitely one of my favorites.... great story, great dialog and great pacing, what more could you ask for in a play?The play tells the story of the nefarious Richard's rise to the throne and ultimate demise. He's an evil mastermind behind the deaths of kings and princes, and even those who supported his aims fall to his sword. This isn't one of Shakespare's subtler works, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    Richard is brother to King Edward and George, Duke of Clarence. Both think he loves them, but Richard has two faces, one of loyalty and sweetness, the other is evil. Having gathered a few ambitious and unethical men around him, Richard is able to order the murder of both brothers, their sons and their loyal followers. He forces the widow of one of his victims to marry him, then chooses his own niece to be his next wife. For a long time, it is only the women in court, including Richard's mother, who recognize that he is evil.Gripping and exciting, Richard III is one of the great villains. I'd love to see this performed.
  • (3/5)
    The true tragedy of this piece is that Richard was almost certainly falsely accused of doing away with his nephews. But as theatre, Richard III exudes a charismatic evil. Based on Tudor sources, Shakespeare wrote for the day. And the day required that the Plantagenets be hung out to dry. The depiction of Edward IV as a lecherous, over-eating, self-indulgent monarch was probably valid though. An interesting piece of theatre, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for poor Richard.
  • (3/5)
    This was the most stagey of any Shakespeare play I've ever read--or at least the most stagey I remember. Richard comes out at the start and announces his evil intentions. Later, characters whisper asides to the audience while lying to their interlocutors on stage. And at the end, ghosts.

    It was interesting, but the over-the-top villainry of Richard somehow left me a little cold. A small thing along the way that bugged me was the ease with which Richard won over female characters who hated and excoriated him. A little sweet talk, and they acquiesce. What?! Please. Way to give women a bad name, Bill!
  • (4/5)
    Am I the only person who thinks Richard is kind of sympathetic? Seriously, *every* other person in the play is a moron. I've never been comfortable with Nietzsche's whole 'the weak gang up to ruin the world by undermining the strong' nonsense, but as an analysis of this book? Pretty good. Look, everyone in this play is morally repulsive. The difference between them and RIII is that the king's much smarter. He moves the pieces around the board pretty well. And for that he's the greatest villain the world has ever seen? I don't get it.

    As for this edition (most recent Arden), it's got a very well-written introduction that provides a lot of background information; maybe too much background information. I would have liked a bit more interpretation. Same thing with the annotation, which was very heavy on the manuscript-variations but a bit light on historical information. But thankfully no fatuous 'thematic' interpretation stuff at all.
  • (4/5)
    With the understanding that insulting the ruler's grandfather was a de-earring offense, and that all plays had to be run by the Lord Chamberlain for approval before publication or performance, what do you do? You slag the man the grandfather took the throne from. Safe move, Willy! And I've always been a richardian. I'm glad his corpse will at last come out from under the car park and be properly housed.I keep quoting the play, and have read it....oh, six times from beginning to end.
  • (5/5)
    So how geeky is it to have his'n'hers copies of Richard III? Don't answer that. We saw the Brooklyn Academy of Music production with Kevin Spacey last year and both wanted to read it through again first. The play, by the way, was fun -- a big spectacle, kind of like the circus for grownups without the animal cruelty. But with plenty of scenery chewing. Anyway, the play is bad ass. But you all knew that.