Customer Reviews


61 Reviews
5 star:
 (43)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (6)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle aged and finally able to read Shakespeare
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...
Published on August 1, 2010 by Gilgamesh

versus
32 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No fear? No proper understanding.
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...
Published on January 19, 2009 by William Shardlow


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle aged and finally able to read Shakespeare, August 1, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
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.

To answer those who rate these books one or two stars, my answer is that they are at least a door into the world of Shakespeare for those of us unable to navigate the originals on our own. And they only take a couple of hours to read. It's not like this is a lifetime commitment or anything. The book only costs five bucks, so why not invest a couple of hours and read it? And, for me, I liked the plays so much that I AM now going to dig out the Folger editions and read the originals, with the No Fear books available in case I get in trouble. These modalities of trying to appreciate Shakespeare are not mutually exclusive.

Well, hopefully that's helpful to someone. I wanted to write this so that people would know that these books are not just for lazy students hoping to avoid reading the originals or somehow 'cheat' in their English classes. I'm not a Shakespeare scholar or teacher and never will be, just an ordinary guy, but for me, these books were the window of opportunity that I had been searching for. Two thumbs up, most definitely.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


59 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golden Gate to Shakespeare, January 24, 2006
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet Spark Notes No Fear Shakespeare, May 27, 2007
By 
Katherine Costa (Antioch, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Into Shakespeare, October 29, 2005
By 
The JuRK (Our Vast, Cultural Desert) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No fear? No proper understanding., January 19, 2009
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (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. If you like a more "adult", and more lightly annotated, text then try the RSC Shakespeare version edited by Jonathan Bate. If you want heavyweight commentary then Arden might be best (though Oxford UP and Cambridge UP also publish detailed versions worth looking at.)

I gave an extra star for the attempt to make Shakespeare a smoother read for the general reader and school child. This is something that publishers should certainly attempt. It is certainly needed. But this isn't a very good attempt.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare in Old English or Modern English, July 18, 2011
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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource, February 27, 2011
By 
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
I read Hamlet fifteen years ago in college and got very little from it. This time around I really felt engaged. I'd read the original, then switch to the plain English when I didn't understand. I tried to stay on the left side for as long as I could. Now, having finished it, I'm going to go back and reread the play on the left side only. My only complaint is that there should be more annotation like in the old Signet editions. There are a few, but hardly enough to convey the complexity of the text and its allusions.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Review of Hamlet, but of "No Fear Shakespeare", February 18, 2008
By 
Big D (Auburn, AL. USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
It would serve no useful purpose to write a review of Hamlet. It has already taken its rightful place among mankind's greatest works. The subject here is not Hamlet, but the manner in which it is presented:
Numbered, original text on the left hand page, modern, up-to-date language on the right hand page.

As with all of Spark Notes editors, an excellent way to present the play, for the first time junior high reader or for the 62-year old reader taking a Shakespeare course and reading Hamlet just for fun.

And as for Hamlet, the play? Like fine wine it gets better, much better, with age.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best, October 17, 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
I have been put off by Shakespeare in the past, I would try to read it and get completely lost as to what they were saying. The No Fear series has opened up Shakespeare's beautiful writing and made me an ardent fan.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality as to be expected of a used book., October 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) (Paperback)
The cover was bent and there was writing inside of the book. However, no pages were torn and the book wasn't scribbled all over, so I am still able to use it. To be expected of a used book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare)
Hamlet (No Fear Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - April 15, 2003)
$5.95
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.