William Shakespeare – ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘The Rape of Lucrece’

These two great poems date from Shakespeares early years and are full of passion and invention. In Venus and Adonis, the goddess of love pleads with the beautiful boy to submit to her advances and become her love – but he only wants to hunt boar. In the more serious Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare draws on the Roman tale of the Emperor Tarquins desire for Lucrece and its tragic consequencies. These poems give prominent parts to the two heroines, and Clare Corbett and Eve Best shine.
Author: William Shakespeare
Narrator: David Burke, Eve Best, Clare Corbett, Benjamin Soames, Oliver Le Sueuer
Duration: 3 hours 18 minutes
Released: 11 Oct 2008
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Language: English

User Review:

despotism fashionable

Two early poems of Shakespeare, based on love and lust from classical mythology.

The first is a stillborn May-December romance where the goddess Venus tries to seduce, then protect, a young boy she loves, failing at both. The goddess of love here comes across as a desperate cougar, oddly lacking in power, not so surprisingly lacking in sense. I’m not sure how I would have felt about the goddess if I had merely read her story. Instead I listened to Claire Corbett read her, and she gave her such heart that I could forgive her folly and tyranny and mourn her loss.

The second work was even darker, with Shakespeare probing the psyches of a rapist and his victim. The greatest dramatic psychologist had early shown an interest in extreme psychopathology with Richard III, but I found the power and depth that he showed here almost worthy of the tragedies he would write a decade later. Eve Best, a star on the London and Broadway stage, nearly brought tears to my eyes as the wronged heroine examined her options and decided on suicide.