Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: The Manga Edition (Anglais) Broché – 25 janvier 2008
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The text is abridged so it’s fast-paced, but the original Shakespearean wording is used so you’ll recognize famous quotations. A four-page introduction sets the stage. You’ll be amazed to discover that the power plays and schemes of today’s political scene are nothing new.
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I am approaching 50 years old and my only real experience trying to read Shakespeare was in high school where we were assigned roles in class and made to read, without comprehension, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Cesar. In the interim, I tried watching a few plays and dragged my kids to see the play Taming of the Shrew, which they hated because they couldn't understand the language nor the plot. Rather than becoming a Shakespeare hater, I've always felt inadequate and dumb for this huge hole in my education.
My current inspiration to try Shakespeare again was my desire to try and help my high school aged son become more educated and cultured than I have been.
I tried first with the Folger annotated editions of Shakespeare. They look excellent and define the unfamiliar words, but I still could not make sense of a substantial portion of the dialogue. I guess maybe I'm just dumb, I don't know.
Anyway, I saw good reviews about this No Fear series, and I ordered several. So far I have read the modern English translations of Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. While I feel a bit like I'm 'cheating', I actually have really enjoyed all the plays and at least now I know the plots and the characters and even some of the more subtle themes. I can't answer the complaints that the translations don't adequately translate Shakespeare's meanings. There are a few side notes that point out double meanings and things like that, though there are not extensive footnotes or sidenotes.
To answer those who rate these books one or two stars, my answer is that they are at least a door into the world of Shakespeare for those of us unable to navigate the originals on our own. And they only take a couple of hours to read. It's not like this is a lifetime commitment or anything. The book only costs five bucks, so why not invest a couple of hours and read it? And, for me, I liked the plays so much that I AM now going to dig out the Folger editions and read the originals, with the No Fear books available in case I get in trouble. These modalities of trying to appreciate Shakespeare are not mutually exclusive.
Well, hopefully that's helpful to someone. I wanted to write this so that people would know that these books are not just for lazy students hoping to avoid reading the originals or somehow 'cheat' in their English classes. I'm not a Shakespeare scholar or teacher and never will be, just an ordinary guy, but for me, these books were the window of opportunity that I had been searching for. Two thumbs up, most definitely.
On the junior high and high school level it is exponentially worse, poisoning the waters surrounding this Genius of Geniuses almost past salvaging. Teaching and studying Shakespeare should be an infinite joy. There is not room here to argue the case adequately. The fashion in which this supreme writer is taught most of the time is educationally criminal. What should be an exuberant delight is a terror of boredom an contempt.
The "No Fear" series is a positive milestone. My students using it are having a helluva good time. There simply is no resistance.
Here is an example, by no means atypical. I wrote a general treatment of the man and the work, trying not so much to present a
case, as to pique some curiosity. Each student was given a version of the play written as a short story, We began with "Much Ado," short, funny, touching and sheer fun. Next, they were given a copy to the Branagh film, told to have someone over to watch with (thus saving the price of a date). Next meeting we chatted about the film and questions or obscure usages looked at.
Only at this point did they actually read the text, which was an old friend. The "No Fear" series fit perfectly. A tenth grade student, Joe G,, was in a program where I was his English teacher for three straight years. Initially, Joe swore he would never read that bore, Shakespeare. By the time Joe left school the lad had studied sixteen of the plays. On graduation night he rushed forward to give me a hug. His first words were, "I just wish we had more time to spend on Shakespeare."
"No Fear' must be given credit fort making my job infinitely easier. Currently I am working, via mail and telephone, with a couple in their late seventies. I recommended the "No Fear" versions. They are delighted, saying "Where was this man all our lives?" in e-mails that always have as the subject, Shakespeare, What Else?"
Dana C, Clarke
"Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away, But that I am forbid
to tell the secrets of my prison house,"
Rather than imagining this were some sort of counter reformation ploy, I think it's more productive and reflecting great Shakespearean subtlety here that he tacitly acknowledges, despite the dawning reformation and despite decrees of kings, that from history hundreds of years past, Christians have lived in the shadow of this Christian idea of Hell, of this purge-atorial belief.
Any reading of Shakespeare deserves generous amounts of annotation and commentary to help the reader through a lot of vocabulary which isn't often used in our day. So as to narrow my scope to a review rather than a book report, I would recommend that this edition fulfills that assignment, devoting more than half the book to historical review of religious and philosophical published material about the cultural beliefs regarding ghosts, spirits, demon kind, angels, death, the occult, and the medical humors, preceding Shakespeare's writings. And, great philosopher that the Bard is, he parodies the extraordinary political trouble in religion.
This didn't immediately sink in, when first I read the ghost's remark about marriage to his "most seeming virtuous queen." It is a ghost, only a shadow of who he used to be, who complains about his wife's 'new' filial relations with his murderous, but living brother. The metaphor is yet hanging in the air while Hamlet is confronting his mother the queen.
Another truly evil piece of work is the courtier Polonius, who Hamlet slays, spying on this same confrontation between the queen and Hamlet. Polonius really is the quintessence of Grimer Wormtongue. Not only does he achieve over-kill, poisoning the well between Ophelia and Hamlet, but from our first introduction to this family, when Ophelia's brother Laertes is traveling to a foreign city to study, even in one breath Polonius extends seeming wise counsel to his departing son, then, the minute Laertes back is turned, Polonius is spitting firebrands and madness; he employs ruffians to follow after his son, seem to befriend him, tempt him into any unseemly or un virtuous behavior they may and noise about vicious slander besides, ruining any chance of his establishing social contacts or successes of his own, which might otherwise lead him to forsake returning home.
So his daughter kills herself, pressured not only by Hamlet's feigned psychosis, but further fueled by her father's treachery. When Laertes returns home all unhinged with grief for his sister, no further allusions are given to the fruit of his father's villainy, where he had gone to study. But the evil king offers us a narrative foot note, summarizing well, I think, the emotional timbre of the author, whose son also had died,
"When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions..."