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Murder in the Cathedral Paperback – March 18, 1964
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Import, International Edition
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About the Author
Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888. He moved to England in 1914 and published his first book of poems in 1917. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Eliot died in 1965.
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Top Customer Reviews
Centered around the age-old story of how Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by knights for defying the king's authority, the play explores a variety of themes: church vs. state, the quest for power, the pursuit of pleasure, the heroism or vanity of martyrs, and the search for life's meaning in the face of death and the "void".
The performances of the actors in this audiobook are superb, especially that of Robert Donat. Hearing his deep resonating voice, you truly feel the charismatic power of the archbishop and former chancellor to the king.
The performance alternates between straight dialogue, poetry, and the Gregorian style chanting of monks. While the poetry and chanting is tedious in parts, it at least breaks up the dialogue into digestable chunks and moves the plot along.
Readers shouldn't be put off by the medieval theme of this piece. The substance of the play is as modern and relevant as any play you'll find. The plot contains a novel twist as well.
With its many poetic and philosophical flourishes, there's more than a trace of Shakespeare in this work. And here's a little known fact: another T.S. Eliot work, "The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", was the inspiration for Cats, the longest running Broadway musical.
So push the rewind for me. Time to visit that bloody cathedral again.
Beckett is one of the more interesting characters from history. Rising from a lowly birth in the Cheapside section of London, largely thanks to the patronage of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1154 he became both archdeacon of Canterbury and Henry's chancellor. Theobald expected him to defend the prerogatives of the Church, but instead he became fast friends with Henry, partook of a sybaritic lifestyle, and extended the power of the State at the expense of the Church. So when Theobald was succeeded by Beckett, Henry expected to have a compliant ally running the Church, but instead Beckett adopted an ascetic lifestyle and became a fearsome defender of the rights of the Church. After dividing on many minor issues, matters came to a head when Henry tried exerting the authority of Crown courts to punish clerics who had been convicted by ecclesiastical courts. Henry determined to reign him in, put Beckett on trial for misappropriating funds while serving as Chancellor, and Beckett was forced to flee to France.
The play opens as Beckett returns to Canterbury in December of 1170, after seven years in exile. Four Tempters approach him, separately, and offer him reasons why he should cease to resist Henry.Read more ›
Thomas Becket lived in the 12th century and rose to power because of his friend King Henry. Becket at first had been a Chancellor in Henry’s court and had then been given the title of Archbishop. Henry wanted him to have both the titles whereas Becket refused because he felt he could not perform both jobs to the same expectations. This was because Henry had radical views about the separation of the church and the state and Becket did not agree with these views because he did not believe he could serve two very opposite masters. The result was an argument between the two.
Literally, Henry and Becket are in a skirmish during the play, but the actual conflict is between Becket and his conscience. The play goes deep into Christianity and the Catholic faith, which I found to be enjoyable. Just as Christ had tempters, so does Becket. They offer him power and material wealth, when all they want in return is for Becket to alter and transform his principles.
I liked how you saw main characters in this play, such as the Chorus, progress from fearing the unknown to joyfully accepting God. While the play has Christian connotations within, it stresses primarily on universal human values such as humility and devotion.
The entire play is written in verse and Eliot managed to capture such complex themes and dialogue in such concise yet poetic words.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was expecting this play to be a more detailed reimagining of the murder of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, something more like the Richard Burton movie "Becket. Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Lion
T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral is a masterful poem/play dramatically retelling the 12th century murder of Thomas Becket at the hands of King Henry II's henchman. Read morePublished 3 months ago by James G. Bruen Jr.
The 1934 play MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL is a product of T. S. Eliot's conversion to Christianity a few years previously, namely a high-church Anglicanism that struck this... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Christopher Culver
Clearly this book is a classic.. Although the majority of the book seems quite straight forward, the ending ties everything together in a very interesting manner. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Aaron Davis