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Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) Paperback – April 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1586638443 ISBN-10: 1586638440

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Product Details

  • Series: No Fear Shakespeare
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: SparkNotes (April 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586638440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586638443
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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I hope the publishers do this with all of Shakespeare's plays!
The JuRK
You get the original version as well as the modern and reading Shakespeare has never been easier.
James Agee
I had to read this for school and thanks to the format of the book, i had a remarkably easy time.
Tammy S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Gilgamesh on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot more highly recommend this particular book, No Fear Shakespeare's Hamlet.

I am approaching 50 years old and my only real experience trying to read Shakespeare was in high school where we were assigned roles in class and made to read, without comprehension, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Cesar. In the interim, I tried watching a few plays and dragged my kids to see the play Taming of the Shrew, which they hated because they couldn't understand the language nor the plot. Rather than becoming a Shakespeare hater, I've always felt inadequate and dumb for this huge hole in my education.

My current inspiration to try Shakespeare again was my desire to try and help my high school aged son become more educated and cultured than I have been.

I tried first with the Folger annotated editions of Shakespeare. They look excellent and define the unfamiliar words, but I still could not make sense of a substantial portion of the dialogue. I guess maybe I'm just dumb, I don't know.

Anyway, I saw good reviews about this No Fear series, and I ordered several. So far I have read the modern English translations of Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. While I feel a bit like I'm 'cheating', I actually have really enjoyed all the plays and at least now I know the plots and the characters and even some of the more subtle themes. I can't answer the complaints that the translations don't adequately translate Shakespeare's meanings. There are a few side notes that point out double meanings and things like that, though there are not extensive footnotes or sidenotes.
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58 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Night Owl on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Bravo to the writers, editors, and publishers of the entire No Fear Shakespeare series. Rendering Shakespeare into prosaic, colloquial American English not only explains what Shakespeare was saying, but reveals how much better he said it! Here's a few examples from HAMLET:

Hamlet sees the Ghost, but his mother doesn't. In modern lingo, she says, "This is only a figment of your imagination." That's a cliche. In the original, she says, "This is the very coinage of your brain." That's vivid.

Rosencrantz tells Hamlet in modern lingo, "You're not doing yourself any good by refusing to tell your friends what's bothering you." Sounds like a reprimand. The original line sounds like a threat: "You do surely bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend."

Hamlet remembers his mother's relationship with his father: "She would hang on to him, and the more she was with him the more she wanted to be with him; she couldn't get enough of him." Sounds good, but the original sounds disturbing: "Why, she would hang on him / As if increase of appetitite had grown / By what it fed on . . ." Change the word "she" to "it" and you have the image of a parasite. That alone says a lot about Hamlet's view of women and sex.

I know of no better guide to reading, understanding, and appreciating Shakespeare than Spark Notes' No Fear Shakespeare series.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Costa on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly a No Fear way to understand Shakespeare. There is a modern day interpretation writing on one side of the book and the Shakespeare way on the other. It was a lifesaver!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By The JuRK on October 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Man, I wish I would've had this book 25 years ago!

I've always been interested in Shakespeare but it's been hard introducing anyone else I know to the greatness of his plays: the language is just too hard for most people to follow.

Thankfully, the No Fear Shakespeare books have come along, and I've been buying them for myself as well as others. It's wonderful to have a side-by-side comparison of the Bard's original lines with a modern translation that makes the play easy to read.

I hope the publishers do this with all of Shakespeare's plays!
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32 of 44 people found the following review helpful By William Shardlow on January 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll use one line to show the problem with this text. Many other lines have a similar problem. Shakespeare has:

"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue."

'No Fear' has:

"Perform the speech just as I taught you, musically and smoothly."

Do you really have to translate "Speak the speech" as "Perform the speech"? If you can't understand "Speak the speech" then you need more help than any book can give (e.g., a very good teacher!)

Also, Shakespeare is being more exact than "no fear" here. "Perform" is too vague. Shakespeare is talking precisely about speech and pronunciation. Note how 'no fear' translates 'as I pronounced it to you' as 'as I taught you', again losing Shakespeare's stress on vocalisation, and again wrongly translating something that should be left as obvious.

'Musically and smoothly' is an even graver error. Trippingly is used in a sense that might trip up students here, so they certainly need help. But all 'no fear' does is confuse them. Does trippingly literally mean musically and smoothly? No it doesn't. If you look 'trip' up in a good concise dictionary you are given the main literal meaning that Shakespeare is using as a metaphor. That is: 'walk or dance with quick light steps'(concise OED).

Then again, although this is the main meaning, Hamlet might be joking with the player. That is, using both (or all 10!) meanings of 'trip' in a multiple metaphor. But I digress, one meaning will do for the first run through in a 'non-honours' class.

But 'no fear' will do for no one.

Shakespeare is hard. Students need help. But not this kind of help.

Check out the "Oxford School Shakespeare" series to see a better approach.
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