16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2006
We all know the story of Julius Caesar. The tragic event that led to chaos. Though it is a popular television and movie theme, we know it in large part due to Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare's famed play. It includes moving scenes such as Caesar's infamous "Et tu Brute", and Marc Antony's moving "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." This book, put together by Folger Shakespeare Library, helps to bring this story to life.
This book, about 239 pages total, features "explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play." While these notes may not answer every question you might come up with, I believe they are very helpful to the average reader (such as myself). These pages also provide plenty of room for anyone who prefers to annotate, or write down thoughts, in their books.
Also featured on these pages is a scene summary for every scene. The scene summaries really helped me truly understand the Shakespearian language. I am very grateful I ordered this copy of Julius Caesar, since it has the tools necessary for the average reader to fully grasp what is happening. I picked it up right here on Amazon.com.
I can hardly find negative aspects to this edition. The best I can come up with is that the words and phrases noted are not already underlined or marked somehow by the publisher. (I know, not a big deal.) The story is great, a must-read for all history buffs or even the casual reader. All-in-all, if you are looking to read Julius Caesar, or just some Shakespeare to impress your friends or teachers with, check out the Folger Shakespeare Library's edition of Julius Caesar. I highly recommend it.
So, what are you waiting on? Get to it!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2010
As an experienced high school English teacher, I always advise my students and their parents to purchase a Folger's edition of Shakespeare's plays. The notes, summaries, and other commentary serve the novice Shakespearean reader well and make the classical allusions and denotations of unfamiliar and common words and phrases from the Elizabethan age much easier for 21st Century readers to understand.
50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
Before I begin, I would like to point out three things. One, I am only a middle-school student (this was an honours class project); two, this is my first review; three, I am reviewing the unabridged, original dialogue version. Thank you.
William Shakespeare is hailed as the greatest writer ever, yet (based on people I've met) very few people have read even a single one of his works. I expected it to be required reading in high school or, at the very least, college. Alas, it is not. This is a disappointment, as I truly enjoyed reading this play, my first encounter with Shakespeare.
Julius Caesar is a tale of honor and betrayal. Pompey, a beloved Roman leader, is defeated in civil war with Caesar. A small brotherhood, let by Marcus Brutus, is still devoted to him after his death, and wants nothing less than the assassination of their new leader. I had expected Caesar's death ("Et tu, Bruté? Then fall Caesar.") to be near the end of the book. However, it turned out to be within the third of five acts. The rest of the book is devoted to the attempts by Brutus's followers and Marc Antony (a dear friend of Caesar, and Brutus's enemy) to get the populace to believe in and follow that person's views, and turn them against the other people's ideals. Marc Antony, an orator with the ability to, in essence, brainwash an entire city with a short speech ("Friends, Romans, Countrymen, / Lend me your ears!"), convinces Rome to turn on Brutus's brotherhood. How their conflict is settled is, by far, the most captivating and entrancing parts of the play.
With the plot discussed, I will move on to what makes this a challenging read: dialogue. Being a work from the Elizabethan Era, I (naively) expected words such as "forsooth" and manye more wordse endinge ine "e". As it turned out, this was not the case. There were archaic words that would elicit cocked heads of confusion from the average person. My saviour from the confusion turned out to be the footnotes in one of the versions I read. The phrase "They fall their crests, and like deceitful jades / Sink in the trial" becomes "They let their necks droop and, like weary nags, fail the test" (Brutus, A4 S2, L26/27). One is forced to scrutinise every single word, in order to receive a complete understanding of the goings-on.
The unabridged version of Julius Caesar is definitely not a piece one reads in one's free time; rather, it should be considered a serious task. Once you put the book down, you transform from reader to philosopher. You will instinctively begin to ponder the issues in whatever part of the book that you have just completed. I, personally, read one act at a time, then closed my eyes (or reread the act) to mull over what had just transpired. I was left with a better understanding of that portion, and a greater respect for the genius of Shakespeare.
Though this and the following sentences have nothing to do with the above review, I am obliged to put them in. My crusade in life is to get as many people as possible to read Congo, by Michael Crichton, and this is as good as any other place to post my propaganda. Please take the time to at least try the book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2014
As one of the reviewer points out, this book is not complete. Most of the Act 5 Scene 5 is missing! I may have checked that review before I purchase this e-book. I learned that paper book is better because you know where you are now. Kindle edition does not have a line number for each scene.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
It's missing the last few pages from the final scene. If you don't need that part, it's ok. if you need the full text, it's not.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gaius Julius Cæsar is the Caesar we think of when we hear the word "Caesar" -- he conquered Gaul, bedded Cleopatra, and died a pretty dramatic death. And while he only appears in a few scenes of "Julius Caesar," he's the nucleus that William Shakespeare's taut conspiracy play revolves around -- his murder, his legacy, and the bitter jealousy he inspired.
Julius Caesar is returning to Rome in triumph, only to be stopped by a strange old soothsayer who warns him, "Beware the ides of March." Caesar brushes off the warning, but he has no idea that a conspiracy is brewing under his nose. In a nutshell, a group of senators led by the creepy Cassius are plotting against Caesar because of his wild popularity, suspecting that he wants to become KING.
And Cassius' latest target: Brutus, one of Caesar's best buddies. Brutus is slowly swayed over to the conspiracy's side, beginning to believe that Caesar as a great man corrupted by power. Everything comes to a a devastating assassination on... guess when... the ides of March, which will elevate some men to greatness and destroy others.
Though the story is supposedly about Julius Caesar, Caesar himself only has a few scenes -- but his charismatic, dominating presence hangs over the play like a heavy tapestry. What he does, what he plans, what he thinks and who he is are constantly on people's minds, and even after his death he is a powerful presence in the memories of the living.
And Shakespeare cooks up a dialogue-heavy play that is a bit on the slow side, but whose speeches are so powerful and intense that you don't quite notice. There's a lot of those speeches here -- not only Antony's famous speech to the Roman people ("The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones"), but Brutus' impassioned argument with Portia ("You have some sick offence within your mind") and Cassius' oily slanted editorials about Caesar.
Shakespeare's depiction of Brutus is also a beautifully nuanced one -- Antony calls him the "noblest Roman of them all" at the very end, despite the fact that Brutus calmly murdered his friend and leader. He's basically a gullible guy who follows his passions rather than his brain, and bounces into the conspiracy rather than trying to find out the truth about Caesar. You feel sorry for him, and at the same time you want the much smarter Antony to kick him like a soccer ball.
"Julius Caesar" is rather slow-moving, but Shakespeare's powerful writing and nuanced depiction of Brutus more than make up for that. Friends, Romans, countrymen...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
How can a reviewer give Shakespeare a three-star review, other than all those high school students who prefer to write two sentence 1-star reviews because they were forced to read it? Ah, there’s the rub, to coin a phrase, but I am NOT giving Shakespeare 3-stars: rather the edition I have just read, and even less than three stars for the manner in which Amazon displays the editions. It is just flat confusing, and wrong. Since I started my effort to read all of Shakespeare, at the pace of one work a month, I have been purchasing all the works for Kindle reading. The edition I purchased does have a cover which corresponds with the cover (currently) displayed on Amazon – the statue in the fountain, with the portico in the background. But the edition is (maddeningly!) incomplete – the last few pages are missing! At least the confirmation was comforting – a couple other reviewers gave it a 1-star review – for incompleteness, and not because they were forced to read it. And who could quibble with that?
Then there is the matter that at least two other hardcopy editions are displayed on the same page, and the “editorial reviews” that are associated with the Kindle edition seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the edition since they speak of “copious and concise explanatory notes” et al., with the other review mentioning appendixes that relate to Plutarch, Montaigne, et al. And none of this exists in the edition I purchased, admitted for only 99 cents... but still. If this was a page on Wikipedia, there would be three separate whisk brooms, with the admonition that “this page needs to be (really!) cleaned up.
Oh yes, was there an actual play involved in all the above grousing? Definitely, and I must have read 95% percent of the complete play, which poses its own sort of dilemma in terms of recording the play as “read.” It is yet another classic story – historically based – of power, corruption, intrigue, and death. The death of Julius Caesar marked a key transition in Roman history, from Republic, in its faded forms, to Empire.
As with so much Greek and Roman drama, Shakespeare commences with a prophecy warning of the ides of March. A prime plotter against Caesar, Cassius, brings in Brutus (of “et tu?” fame) and seeks the “respectability” of bringing in the “silver hair” of Cicero. There are refreshingly “modern” and straightforward details such as Cassius relating incidents from his youth together with Caesar, a swim in the Tiber (in which the latter almost drown) to an illness in Spain, all proof, he says, that Caesar is not a god. There is a discussion among the plotters about killing Mark Anthony too, but then the consensus is that it would be too much like a butchery, and not a “seasoned excise” of this ugly boil upon the Republic.
Caesar is killed, literally on the floor of the Senate, obviously long before those ubiquitous metal detectors. He is killed half way through the play, so the remainder is devoted to the (naturally inevitable?) falling out among the plotters, including a key division between Cassius and Brutus. Anthony performs a brilliant funeral oration, that seems to argue on the justice of the killing, but actually turns the tide against the plotters. He allies himself with Octavius, who would become Emperor.
At one level, an “exhausting read” of intrigue and perfidy that makes “hanging chads” a much preferable method for power transitions. Who would have thought I’d say that? The plotters do lose out in the end... if I only knew what that actually end was! 3-stars, reflecting a “triangulation” between an excellent play and an incomplete edition that did not live up to its advertising.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2008
Julius Caesar is a classic book that everyone should read. This play of Shakespeare tells an accurate story of the Roman Revolution of 40 BC. This is a excellent play and great to watch on movie or as a play, but it works well in book form and also makes the script easier to analyze. Under scrutiny, you can see the subtle hints that Shakespeare makes about monarchy being better than a republic. Shakespeare, growing up in the monarchy of Great Britain. This play is about Brutus and the other conspirators trying to assassinate Caesar because he has amassed too much power and they are afraid he might try and become a king. Julius Caesar, although given many warnings, went on the the house of the senate on the ides of March. There he was killed by the conspirators, of whom Brutus, Caesar's friends, was one.
The play portrays one of the most influential revolutions. It show the history and what Shakespeare thinks of the time. This play is mostly accurate to the real history of this time and effectively shows what time was like at this time. On of the major themes in this play was the cycle of violence. In the beginning, "God" allowed Caesar to become near ruler. Then Brutus and the conspirators question God's decision by killing Caesar. There is divine retribution signified by the war, and then peace is restored.
on April 25, 2014
Obviously, I am not going to review the merits of the play. Unless it is demanded by the Plebeian mob.
I am happy I purchased this edition in paperback. The Folger Library has produced a very pleasant read, with nice-sized, very readable typeface, and a well-designed layout for the book. I'm glad I did not order the Kindle version as this quarto-like version sat comfortably in my hands, bending with just the right ply. The text of the play sits on the right page with explanatory notes on the left. So if you are helped by explanatory notes on the language--and I occasionally am--you will probably find them easy to scan while reading. The edition also includes some engraving-like reproductions on the left page, near the bottom. The representations often echo certain events as the plot unfolds, sometimes sufficiently to evoke further interest and consideration, other times seeming to be more perfunctorily-placed and uninteresting.
For me, reading this edition was a decidedly superior experience to reading plays in other paperback versions (like Signet) as well as the Kindle. I look forward to reading other plays in the Folger editions.
on August 14, 2015
The file I received was truncated at the beginning of ACT IV. So I was unable to read the last several pages of the play. I complained about it and was told that there were previous complaints but no answer to the problem. At the direction of the help desk I tried deleting the file and re-loading it. This did no good at all, indeed, I lost another page or two in the process.
I got a full copy successfully from another supplier.