Published in: 1606
Edition read: E-book
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Life of Marcus Antonius and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra’s suicide. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony’s fellow triumviri and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.
Shakespeare is one of those things your either get or you don’t. I like the writing style as it’s lyrical, it sounds almost like a song as you read it. In saying that, some parts are difficult to follow just because we don’t use this kind of language anymore, so I fear I’ve missed some of the more subtle jokes or themes. In saying that, I found this play easy to follow as I know the story of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, having read other books on this subject, so I knew what was happening even if I couldn’t follow some of the sentences.
The thing that got me about this play was the amount of small scenes- I bet this would have been hell to actually stage, just because there are so many scene changes, and they are major changes between Alexandria and Rome, which would look as different as can be. The upside is that the fast pace keeps you interested in the story, you don’t have time to grow bored or let your mind wander because everything is moving with such rapidity.
Antony & Cleopatra rating: 7.5/10
Would I re-read it? Yeah, it was a fun read
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone interested in Shakespeare’s plays, anyone who has an interest in Roman and/or Egyptian history who might enjoy this take on Antony & Cleopatra’s romance.
As this book is rather old, you can download it free from many places and enjoy it on your various mobile devices.