Lynn's Reviews > As You Like It

As You Like It by William Shakespeare
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's review
Aug 11, 2012

really liked it
Read from August 10 to 12, 2012 — I own a copy

I found myself wandering a bookstore last Thursday and ended up in the Shakespeare section where I discovered these SparkNotes versions of the plays. They contain the original text on the left side, with a modern translation on the right.

I had an interest in Shakespeare when I was a student - I did an independent study in high school, and later took a Shakespeare course in college. I also made a regular trip to Stratford, Ontario to see a play or two each year for about a decade. But it's been a long time since I've read one of the plays, or attended one. These seemed like a great way to re-acquaint myself, and each book is only $6 each, so I picked up several.

And can I just say for a second, at the risk of sounding like an old lady, how good kids these days have it? The Shakespeare section was not only filled with highly annotated versions of Shakespeare, but side-by-side modern translations like the SparkNotes, AND even graphic novels. Seriously, I'm kind of jealous. Between iPads and smart pens that capture your notes, students today have it so good. It makes me want to go back to college just for fun.

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. When I was in school, I considered CliffNotes to be a type of cheating really....but I don't think I would feel the same about the SparkNotes, as you are still reading the original text, but have the modern version at your fingertips.

This is one of the few books I would encourage to buy printed, rather in an ebook format. Having the original on one side of the page and the modern translation on the opposite just works. You can quickly scan back and forth, from one line at a time if you wish. This would be downright annoying to read on an e-reader.

With the modern text right next to it, Shakespeare's comedies actually seem like light summer reading. I look forward to starting the next.

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