Review: No Fear Shakespeare

I was poking around the Internet one evening and I came across an interesting translation of Shakespeare.  I have translated bits of Shakespeare into French and back on the Internet myself.  I know one can find his plays here and there, translated into German, Greek and Klingon (just to name a few).  And now the works of Shakespeare have been translated for us into English.

That’s not as odd as it sounds.  I like Shakespeare now, but I was no fan of The Bard back in high school when I first read his work.  That was part of the problem.  One does not read Shakespeare.  Shakespeare was a playwright.  It would be like trying to understand why Star Wars was such a phenomenon by reading the movie script.  I didn’t like Hamlet much when we read an act a week in class in high school.  I liked Hamlet even less when we covered it in an act a day in college.  It wasn’t until I actually saw Hamlet acted out on stage that I finally got it.  I couldn’t follow all the words, but the performance filled in the gaps in my understanding.

Ironically, it’s Shakespeare’s language that presents difficulties to modern audiences.  We just don’t speak like that anymore… if – indeed – we ever did.  I remember when we acted out a scene from As You Like It at school.  There’s not a lot of stage direction in Shakespeare plays, so I ended up explaining the gist of the scene so everyone could figure out what they were actually doing while saying all these words. 

The new translations seem to be accurate in getting the points across, but they do lack the poetry of the language that makes Shakespeare… well, Shakespeare.  However, the website does split the page in half.  Shakespeare’s original dialogue is on the left and the modern updates are on the right.  You can have As You Like It as you like it.  You can read “old school” Hamlet:

“To be or not to be – that is the question”

Or try out the “no fear” version:

“The question is: is it better to be alive or dead?” 

Just try not to be like Hamlet; make a decision one way or the other.  Take a look at the site so – at the very least – you understand what the heck I’m talking about!


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