November 2, 2016

Shakespeare in plain English

Antony and Cleopatra (No Fear Shakespeare)
Spark Publishing (

Sonnets (No Fear Shakespeare)

The No Fear Shakespeare series, published by Spark, promises to make Shakespeare’s plays less intimidating to read. The books feature texts of the original plays on the left-hand page, with an easy-to-understand translation on the right-hand page, written in plain English. Plenty of helpful commentary is also promised. More accurately, I would say that there is some commentary, which may or may not be helpful, depending on how well-read a person is. For Antony and Cleopatra, the comments served to identify certain gods and mythical creatures, to place geographical locations, point out puns, and explain certain situations. I expect that the commentary in other No Fear titles will be similar. As for the Sonnets, out of 154 of them, only about two dozen have attached commentary. However, since most of the sonnets are obsessed with youth, beauty, and procreation, the plain English translations are enough.

Good for high school and university students.

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