Most helpful critical review
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
No fear? No understanding.
on 19 January 2009
I'll use one line to show the problem with this text. Many other lines have a similar problem. Shakespeare has:
"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue."
'No Fear' has:
"Perform the speech just as I taught you, musically and smoothly."
Do you really have to translate "Speak the speech" as "Perform the speech"? If you can't understand "Speak the speech" then you need more help than any book can give (e.g., a very good teacher!)
Also, Shakespeare is being more exact than "no fear" here. "Perform" is too vague. Shakespeare is talking precisely about speech and pronunciation. Note how 'no fear' translates 'as I pronounced it to you' as 'as I taught you', again losing Shakespeare's stress on vocalisation, and again wrongly translating something that should be left as obvious.
'Musically and smoothly' is an even graver error. Trippingly is used in a sense that might trip up students here, so they certainly need help. But all 'no fear' does is confuse them. Does trippingly literally mean musically and smoothly? No it doesn't. If you look 'trip' up in a good concise dictionary you are given the main literal meaning that Shakespeare is using as a metaphor. That is: 'walk or dance with quick light steps'(concise OED).
Then again, although this is the main meaning, Hamlet might be joking with the player. That is, using both (or all 10!) meanings of 'trip' in a multiple metaphor. But I digress, one meaning will do for the first run through in a 'non-honours' class.
But 'no fear' will do for no one.
Shakespeare is hard. Students need help. But not this kind of help.
Check out the "Oxford School Shakespeare" series to see a better approach. If you like a more "adult", and more lightly annotated, text then try the RSC Shakespeare version edited by Jonathan Bate. If you want heavyweight commentary then Arden might be best (though Oxford UP and Cambridge UP also publish detailed versions worth looking at.)
I gave an extra star for the attempt to make Shakespeare a smoother read for the general reader and school child. This is something that publishers should certainly attempt. It is certainly needed. But this isn't a very good attempt.