The major texts of Western culture are a gateway to wisdom that can widen your views on self and society in enduring ways. And now you can examine its most important works - whether drama, poetry, or narrative - in this series of 64 penetrating lectures that reveal astonishing common ground.
"A great intoduction"
A new recording of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece, starring Calista Flockhart. Nora Helmer has everything a young housewife could want: beautiful children, an adoring husband, and a bright future. But when a carelessly buried secret rises from the past, Nora's well-calibrated domestic ideal starts to crumble. Ibsen's play is as fresh today as it was when it first stormed the stages of 19th-century Europe.
"Superfical wife, superficial controlling husband"
Joss Ackland, Roger Allam, and Leslie Phillips star in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Victor Hugo's classic novel. When poverty drives Jean Valjean to steal a loaf of bread from a baker's window, it is an action that will haunt him for the rest of his life. A citizen of postrevolutionary France, he is sentenced to nineteen years' hard labour.
Featuring a fictional version of himself - 'Marcel' - and a host of friends, acquaintances, and lovers, In Search of Lost Time is Proust's search for the key to the mysteries of memory, time, and consciousness. As he recalls his childhood days, the sad affair of Charles Swann and Odette de Crecy, his transition to manhood, the tortures of love and the ravages of war, he realises that the simplest of discoveries can lead to astonishing possibilities.
"BBC does Proust proud"
Ever since the first night at the St James' Theatre on 14 February 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest has been recognised as one of the world's finest comic dramas. Now Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell leads an outstanding cast in this superb new production of Wilde's masterpiece, mounted to celebrate the centenary of the first performance.
"I could never marry a man called Earnest!"
There is now no doubt that not only is Waiting for Godot the outstanding play of the 20th century, but it is also Samuel Beckett's masterpiece. Yet it is both a popular text to be studied at school and an enigma. The scene is a country road. There is a solitary tree. It is evening. Two tramp-like figures, Vladimir and Estragon, exchange words. Pull off boots. Munch a root vegetable. Two other curious characters enter. And a boy. Time passes. It is all strange yet familiar.
"Stay go leave stay...it's all the same"
Written in 1593, King Richard III is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. This play differs from its predecessors, being amore structured piece, examining the development and motivations of a single character, Richard Duke of Gloucester, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the throne occupied by his brother Edward IV.
Now, for the first time in audio, Blackstone presents seven great plays in one volume: Euripides' Medea, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid, Dumas' Camille, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Shaw's Arms and the Man, and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. These productions illustrate the development of European drama from ancient times to the threshold of the modern theater.
Frederick Jaeger stars in a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the legend that has haunted the imagination of millions for over a hundred years! Summoned to the forbidden heart of the Carpathian mountains, in the depths of Transylvania, Jonathan Harker journeys to Castle Dracula. There he becomes the unwitting prisoner of the mysterious nobleman whom local legend insists is nosferatu, the vampire...
Frankenstein is infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Includes introduction and commentary by Mary Shelley. Required reading for any fan of science fiction and horror genres. A classic.
Samantha Spiro, David Troughton, and Amanda Root are among the cast of this new BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Jane Austen's famous novel. Mrs Bennet is determined to see her five daughters married off and secure a future for them all. When the wealthy Mr Bingley arrives in the neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet wastes no time in making his acquaintance. His friend Mr Darcy, however, discourages Mr Bingley from marrying Jane Bennet, and also appears to snub her sister Elizabeth.
Full-cast dramatization of Oedipus the King, the Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BCE. Featuring Douglas Campbell, Eric House and Robert Goodier.
Henry James's novel, dramatised by Rachel Joyce. Young and beautiful, Isabel Archer thinks that she is in control of her fate. Little does she know, however, that others behind the scenes are pulling the strings. The beautiful and free-spirited Isabel Archer is now a very rich woman. Two men have declared their love for her but she does not want to be married. Resolved to enjoy her fortune, she begins her travels. Starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Haydn Gwynne, Robert Bathurst, Gayle Hunnicutt and full cast. Pianist Duncan Walsh Atkins. Directed by Tracey Neale.
Toby Stephens and Juliet Aubrey star in a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Wilkie Collins' chilling Gothic drama. A lonely stretch of road on Hampstead Heath is the venue for Walter Hartright's midnight first encounter with a mysteriously distressed figure in white. As he helps the woman to escape from unnamed pursuers, he has little understanding of the way she will affect his future. At Limmeridge House in Cumberland, Walter meets and falls in love with Laura, who strangely resembles the woman in white.
Konstantin Treplov's literary ambitions and his love for a young aspiring actress evade him. When Nina runs off with his mother's lover, he attempts suicide, comparing himself to a dead seagull destroyed by man's whim.
Barbara is a major in the Salvation Army - but she's also the daughter of Andrew Undershaft, a man who's made millions from the sale of weapons of war. The real battle, however, rages between between the devilish father and his idealistic daughter as they answer the question: does salvation come through faith or finance? This sparkling comedy traverses family relations, religion, ethics and politics - as only Shaw, the master dramatist, can!
Orley Farm, described as a "[B]rilliantly choreographed legal thriller" (Mail on Sunday), centres on the pathos of the main character, Lady Mason. Youthful marriage choices, middle-aged marital crisis, love and loss revolve around the legal action and the complex portrayal of Lady Mason, who is both sympathetic and wily.
Distressed by his father's death and his mother's over-hasty remarriage, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is faced by a specter from beyond the grave bearing a grim message of murder and revenge. The young prince is driven to the edge of madness by his struggle to understand the situation he finds himself in and to do his duty. Many others, including Hamlet's beloved, the innocent Ophelia, are swept up in his tragedy.
A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord siezes the throne with the help of his scheming wife - and a trio of witches. Anthony Quayle, Robert Hardy, Ian Holm, Stanley Holloway, and Jill Balcon star in an unabridged performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Catherine McCormack, Joseph Fiennes, and Harriet Walter star in this BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's last and most remarkable novel. Passion and perception run through this fascinating study of loneliness, love, and ultimate triumph over adversity.
Blackstone Audio is proud to present the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2014 production of The Tempest, Shakespeare's magical romantic comedy, directed by Tony Taccone. This stunning work of audio theater, fully dramatized with performances by the OSF cast, is a must-listen.
In Richard III, Shakespeare invites us on a moral holiday. The play draws us to identify with Richard and his fantasy of total control of self and domination of others. Not yet king at the start of the play, Richard presents himself as an enterprising villain as he successfully plans to dispose of his brother, Clarence. Richard achieves similar success in conquering the woman he chooses to marry. He carves a way to the throne through assassination and executions.