365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

155. When Sparknotes are okay (according to me)

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Though I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Shakespeare – the less comprehensible, the better! – I can’t help but be a pretty big advocate for No Fear Shakespeare.

Usually, I am opposed to Sparknotes except for in dire situations. I have used them myself when reading a few particularly dense novels in the odd literature class here and there to be sure I get the information I really need. They are very handy for quick review before midterms and finals, too, if you don’t have time to reread the entire book. But the problem with Sparknotes is that people tend to rely on them and them alone, as opposed to actually reading whatever great work of literature they are supposed to be working on.

However, No Fear Shakespeare is a great happy medium. On one side of the page, the original text. On the other, a translation for modern readers. You read the real play, and you also get the meaning. All in one painless little package!

They’re even great for a seasoned reader. Every so often, a translation of theirs is a little different from what I had in mind, which can give a great, fresh perspective on a familiar scene. So for those who are a little nervous about tackling the Bard cold, consider a copy of a No Fear Shakespeare book instead of an old Riverside Shakespeare (but read the Riverside version after the No Fear, because it is awesome).


Written by Caroline Mincks

March 5, 2010 at 9:14 PM

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