HC&B. Doesn’t seem like I talk a lot about books if you’ve browsed around or have been around here for a while. The truth is that I do read, and if there is such a thing, it would appear that I read ‘too much’. Reviewing is not my forte but I want to make an effort, that was one of the initial purpose of this blog and it firmly remains so. I’ve signed up for Karie Slagger’s reading & reviewing challenge early Feb or late Jan, but I’ve put a block on any serious reading marathon because of exams this year end but I plan to still keep up appearances and staying true to me I want to talk about books before I read them so I get to unwind before the reviewing process.
Today I’ll be touching on the Spark Notes No Fear Shakespeare: As You Like It. I was first introduced to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in 10th grade and I actually took to it instead to Fences by August Wilson, which up till this day my literature teacher never suspected that I hadn’t finished. Though there were references to the out dated and historical phrases and also the ones Shakespeare invented on the other page, it was a pain in the hiney to look back and forth but heaven knows how I read in a straight line.
This version of the play has the original text on the left side and the modern translated text on the right. I think it’s pretty neat because makes it a much simpler read, we all know it’s universally known that reference to ‘The Bard’ is greeted with groans and moans of terror of the imminent boredom and the struggle to keep those lids open. It’s during moments like these when we come to realize that the antics of Tom and Jerry, match sticks being used to prop eyelids and also sellotape to tape ’em open, do not apply to the real world, perhaps fortunately so.
I’ve seen people remarking that they got right into it and loved what they’ve read and there are those who finally get the meaning of the thing but still declare it a major snoozfest, you can’t change some people.
… Anyway, I recommend the SparkNotes series to anyone that is studying Shakespeare and wants to ensure they aren’t missing any subtleties along with anyone who is trying to warm up to it after years of not reading it. The SparkNotes series starts with a brief explanation of the characters and then goes right into the play/modern translations…..there are no lengthy essays on meaning, or CliffNotes-style summaries. So you are still left to draw your own conclusions. I rather like that. While it does help you understand the more difficult or archaic passage, it doesn’t spoon feed you either …
I have no problem with reading Shakespeare as he wrote, but I will admit that I rely on the notes to help me understand a particular word or phrase. In this series, the entire script is so notated — the ‘original’ scrip on the left-hand page, and the ‘translation’ on the right hand side. This has helped me understand the plays even more.
I wouldn’t, however, rely solely on this edition. Notes on texts can also be a valuable resource …
and here’s this guy:
I can imagine that some die hard traditional readers argue that this makes it too easy, that Shakespeare is supposed to be read just as is, that you get more meaning and so on. Please do attempt to correct me if you think my assumptions are off. To the people I was referring to just now I would retort that not everyone could read through the lovely yet confusing bramble of old English even if they tried really hard, as is the case with loads of us students. What matters is that people understand what’s happening and what is being said so that they all can appreciate this man’s genius (or in other cases his talent to make one’s face kiss the desk in 10 seconds flat). So if Spark Notes gets kids especially to read stuff like this then I say it is a success.
As I am yet to read it myself, and yes I am very tempted to get started (curse you exams!), I can’t really say much on the story itself right now but it seems interesting enough. Have you read this version, another one? Did you like it?