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4.3 out of 5 stars
Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare)
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2000
I am a student who had to read this book and I couldn't understand most of the stuff Shakespeare was writing. We first started to read some other books with the Old English type writing and I got a C- in this class because I couldnt understand it. We just started reading Romeo and Juliet and I had the same problem so I bought this book. Boy, did it help me! I got an A in my class! Another feature which I liked was how the layout is put side-by-side so if you have to read during class, you'll be able to know where everyone is and if you dont understand it, just go to the other side.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2004
This is only partially a review of the story, but mostly a review on how much I love the No Fear series. It's SO useful. You have Shakespeare on one page, and the 'translation' into modern English on one page. I understand Shakespeare so much better now. I thought I understood Shakespeare when I read version where you have a footnote at the bottom saying what 'grandshire phrase' or something means. I did get the gist of it, but now I understand what the characters are saying and feeling, and I get all the little jokes. I can appreciate Shakespeare now, which was impossible before (then again, I'm only 12, it's probably easier for other people).
Not to mention in other versions I would read a little bit, glance down at the footnotes, read, glance down, re-read to find the word in the footnote, et cetera and it was very tedious. Now I just read a page of Shakespeare and then a page of modern, or vice versa. I do vice versa because then I understand how the character feels before reading the lines out loud, making this version very useful for putting on the play.
There is one problem. In most editions, you have various essays and notes. They don't have this in here. I don't take of stars for this because I personally never read the essays, but some people might.
Anyway, the story itself. Shakespeare is very poetic, and you can appreciate it more if you know what he's talking about. How ever, I hate 'love at first sight' with a burning passion. If you get over that, the characters and plot are engaging.
I read this because I was in the play. But this edition is so good I'm going to read other Shakespeare plays for my own enjoyment.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2012
I am a high school English teacher looking at the different versions of classics texts available for Kindle (fire), so my review will not be for the play itself, but rather for the eBook--readability, layout, price, and other features.

This version of Romeo and Juliet is my favorite 99 cent version for several reasons. First, there are links to each act and scene. Next, the page layout is clean and easy to read with spaces between each speaker. Finally, the line formatting is in the correct iambic pentameter format, though there are no line numbers. There are no annotations or explanations, but none of the good 99 cent versions provide that either. Bottom line, easy to use!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2006
Of course this is an immortal story that has been read for centuries and at least one beautiful motion picture has been based on it. But, I guess I'm a "dunce" because I never could understand much of the dialogue. "What he say?" was my reaction to much of it. But, I discovered these Folger Shakespeare Library editions that have the dialogue as written by Shakespeare in Elizabethan English on the right side of the page and the "translations" and explanations on the left. Wow! That format makes it very easy to enjoy this book without going to a dictionary every 90 seconds or so! And, for teachers, I think they'll be overjoyed when they see the positive results they could get in class! If you have any opinions about this edition please email boland7214@aol.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2009
This book is what it says it is--a translation. It provides modern text opposite the page featuring the original text. For mere translational purposes, this book can't be beat.
It claims to include "plenty of helpful commentary," but I found such comments to be lacking! Act 1 has sixteen comments and Act 2 has twenty-three, but from here on out, the numbers dwindle. There are no comments in all of Act 5, only two in all of Act 3, and only three in Act 4. That's only forty-four comments for a book some two hundred pages long!
Perhaps there wasn't much cause for commentary, or some Acts (such as 3) were pretty short, but I would have liked some and felt it would have helped--plus SparkNotes made me expect a comment to be on every page! Naturally, I was disappointed by this, especially considering the book highlights this feature on its cover. Plenty of things my teacher clued my classmates and me in on weren't in the book.
For example, when Romeo buys the poison from the poor apothecary in Mantua, he gives the apothecary a "ducat." My teacher said a ducat is a gold coin; from the text I couldn't infer this, and there was no note from SparkNotes to explain for me.
The book also advertises its character analysis, which is in fact quite shallow and brief, providing little if any real insight.
I wasn't expecting some college-level examination of Romeo and Juliet, but I was expecting to receive what was promised on the book cover--and I didn't expect what was promised to be skimpy!
In addition, I swear some of the translations aren't correct. Just inferring from the text, I came up with more probable translations than the book did at times. For example, take these lines from the play and the translation provided:
Original text: "By heaven, I will tear thee joint by joint/And strew this hungry churchyard with thy limbs."
Translation: "I swear I'll tear you apart limb by limb and spread your body parts around to feed the hungry animals in the graveyard."
Animals? The original text in absolutely NO way suggests there are animals living in the churchyard. SparkNotes needs to think beyond what can literally be hungry--humans, animals, living things--and think about literary devices. This was, to me, personification; the churchyard itself is hungry, hungry for fresh blood, new bodies, that those who are buried there are so ancient the churchyard needs to be added to. Perhaps I'm wrong, but even if I am, I'm convinced SparkNotes is equally wrong.
So, my advice to potential buyers: Know that this book is just what it sounds like--a great translation (though, if you ask me, questionable at times) and not much more. If you want more, like considerably in-depth character analysis or plentiful explanations of Shakespearean language, I suggest you look elsewhere.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2011
For some reason Amazon puts reviews of any edition of a given Shakespeare play on each edition's webpage. So, if you are wondering why to buy the Folger over the Cambridge or the Cambridge over the Arden, or just to spend a buck on the Dover Thrift Edition, you have to wade through dozens or hundreds of reviews of all the other editions. I have no idea why Amazon does this, as many people will have very particular interests, and various editions will serve those interests differently. It's maddening. Amazon should keep its Arden reviews on the Arden page, Dover on the Dover page, and so on. What gives???

Anyway, it appears that Arden's Third Series of R&J is unavailable, or perhaps not yet out. If it is available when you read this and you are looking for a first-rate scholarly edition, I'd buy that one -- although I confess I've personally never seen it. But the Third Series of the Ardens, and I have read many, are really first-rate.

The Second Series of the Ardens vary. I'd put this one in the middle. It's quite a bit more thorough than what you would get from, say, the Signet editions (or Dover) but maybe a wee bit out of date and, like most Arden Second Series editions, extremely concerned with editorial conundrums and less concerned with exegesis. But there's a lot of that in this edition, and I am quite satisfied with it. I will, however, buy the Third Series when I can.

One other point I always make about the Ardens: of all the various editions, these are the sturdiest, by far. They are extremely well bound, with sturdy bindings and paper, and will hold up to years and years of abuse and underlining and spilled coffee. Honestly, I prefer them for that reason alone.

Happy reading to you all!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2008
I'm a lifelong Shakespeare fan who has recently discovered the No Fear series of "translations" of the plays. Although I had considered myself comfortable with Elizabethan dialect, I've learned a lot from the No Fear
books. However, especially in Romeo and Juliet, one is struck by how the
pleasure in reading the play is in the language, not the plot. Side-by-side with modern English, Shakespeare's poetry is even more luminous.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 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.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2009
I bought this for the Kindle and there is none of the modern text translation referred to by the other reviews. I am very disappointed because that is the only reason I purchased this book. They should not use printed version reviews for Kindle books.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2006
This was a great resource while teaching "Romeo and Juliet" last year to my English 1 students. I was able to explain the more difficult passages to them as we read along in the book. I wish that I had the money to purchase this book for all of my students. I plan to use it again this school year.
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