Saturday, June 15, 2013

Confession Time

Over the course of my lifetime, I have read most of William Shakespeare's place without obtaining much more than a very basic understanding of any of them.  

There, I've said it out loud.

Oh sure, I remember the main characters of most of the plays and recognize the more common quotes we hear all the time, and can even sometimes tell you exactly what play the quotes come from.  Big deal.  My problem is that I often get confused by Shakespeare's English, beautiful as it usually is.  

That's why I was so intrigued by the new (I think it's new) Sparks Notes series called "No Fear Shakespeare."I brought this one home with me from Barnes & Noble today, in fact:

The beauty of these little books is that the original play is shown on the lefthand page and the "plain English" version is beside it on the right side of the book.  

I understand (and agree) that much, if not most, of the beauty of the work is lost in this kind of translation. but I look at the books as training wheels I can use until I finally familiarize myself with the meaning of Shakespeare's original language and the written style of the day.  I'm hoping it will take only one or two books to get me to that point.  This could be interesting.  


  1. I have the same problem you do, and I've found that the best way to deal with it is usually to see Shakespeare performed by people who do understand it. I still might not understand all the words, but I get the emotions in a way no written Shakespeare has ever been able to manage for me so far. Although I did use a book like this (plain English next to original) to figure things out when one of my middle school teachers decided Shakespeare would be great for our class.

  2. Library Girl, I kind of figure it's now or never for me and Mr. Shakespeare. Any harbor in a storm...hoping it works well enough to take the training wheels off after only one, but we'll see. :-)