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Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare)

4.6 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1200641394
ISBN-10: 1586638440
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Arguably the greatest English-language playwright, William Shakespeare was a seventeenth-century writer and dramatist, and is known as the Bard of Avon. Under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth I, he penned more than 30 plays, 154 sonnets, and numerous narrative poems and short verses. Equally accomplished in histories, tragedies, comedy, and romance, Shakespeare s most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, and As You Like It.

Like many of his contemporaries, including Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare began his career on the stage, eventually rising to become part-owner of Lord Chamberlain s Men, a popular dramatic company of his day, and of the storied Globe Theatre in London.

Extremely popular in his lifetime, Shakespeare s works continue to resonate more than three hundred years after his death. His plays are performed more often than any other playwright s, have been translated into every major language in the world, and are studied widely by scholars and students.

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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: 1 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Opening statement: I know nothing about William Shakespeare except that he was a famous English playwright. I never had to read William's works in high school or college. What drew me to this particular book is the game "Jeopardy". I play "Jeopardy" on Facebook, and quite often, there are categories on the works of Shakespeare. So in order to score better in Jeopardy, I sought a Shakespeare book that was readable, and by sheer luck, a friend pointed me to the "No Fear" editions of Shakespeare books. Essentially, the book has a side-by-side comparison of Shakespeare's original play in Old Style English, and on the opposing page, Shakespeare in modern-day english. After reading both versions, I found I prefered the modern version. I am not even through with the book yet, but I am very pleased to read Shakespeare and understand exactly what I am reading without having to interpret the Old English in my mind. My college graduate son says I am taking the easy way out and believes I should read the old style, but I doubt I would read Hamlet, or any of Shakespeare's works if I had to read it in the original text. It is just too cumbersome.

I look forward to reading many other of Shakespeare's works in modern english. I recommend this book to anyone reading Shakespeare as the reader can choose the original or the modern day translation. I think it is a neat concept and presentation.

kone
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book for my class to read. I don't understand much when reading Shakespeare, but this version comes along with a translated version right next to each page. It is great and I would recommend you to get it if you are having trouble. This thing saved my grade.

Great book, easy to understand with the translated version.
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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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