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William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet and dramatist of the Elizabethan and early Jacobean period, is the most widely known author in all of English literature and often considered the greatest. He was an active member of a theater company for at least twenty years, during which time he wrote many great plays. Plays were not prized as literature at the time, and Shakespeare was not widely read until the middle of the eighteenth century, when a great upsurge of interest in his works began that continues today.
I like Shakespeare, but find his language hard to decipher at times. Standard texts have footnotes to help you to understand how he uses certain words, but after looking up a few dozen of these, I find myself starting to lose the thread of the story line. The "Shakespeare Made Easy" approach has been a godsend for me. Now, whenever I run into a difficult passage, I can glance over to the other side of the book and read the same passage in plain English. A light bulb blinks on, and I say, "Aha! That's what this means!" Unfamiliar words are instantly translated for me as I see them in the context of a passage which I now understand fully. I've read Julius Caesar three or four times previously, but never so fluidly and with such enjoyment and understanding as I just did with the help of the "Shakespeare Made Easy" book.
This play isn't as good as other Shakespearean comedies. If you want Shakespeare that's funny to *read*, try "Much Ado About Nothing" or "Midsummer's Night Dream". As You Like It probably does better on stage.
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.
Shakespeare is undoubtedly a master with language, and Folger Library does another excellent job of explaining the nuances of Macbeth to the normal person. Macbeth is an intense play, and Folger's edition captures all of the darkness and mysterious violence that shrouds the title character and his wife. I had no trouble at all understanding what Shakespeare meant through the page by page annotations.
There's also a well-written intro on Shakespeare's life and his language in Macbeth, which is indispensible for a thorough understanding of the context surrounding the play. The concluding section, "A Modern Perspective," also clarifies a lot of the internal conflict within the play as well as presents a great analysis of the opposing forces and people.
A minor irritant, though, is that the page number in this edition is on the inside of the page, near the binding. It's a little bit more difficult to see with a new book. Everything else, though, is perfect. And something that I particularly like--the cover art is nice to look at. Overall, Folger Library has again successfully annotated and published another Shakespeare play.
Probably one of Shakespeare's better plays that doesn't get much reading because of presumed anti-semetism. Shakespeare never met a Jew, he was passing along the then-current stereotype of a money-lender, which was pretty cartoonish and vicious, but manages to let Shylock explain his own humanity in there, hating and hurting from the insults he receives.