Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Friends, Romans, countrymen...lend me your eyes

Shakespeare wrote plays with really juicy plots, especially his tragedies, so it seems a shame that younger readers (teens, not preschoolers) are turned off by the arcane language. Once you get past the iambic pentameter and words like 'wouldst', you end up with gripping tales of lust, treachery, revenge, corruption, greed, madness and ambition. What teenage wouldn't like that?
So we have some new books on the shelf that take some of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies - Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar - and put them in a format that is more appealing to young adults: Manga. Writer Adam Sexton has worked with a variety of illustrators to adapt these plays to the shorter manga format. They have done this in the time-honored tradition of dropping various lines and scenes (Lawrence Olivier's filmed version of Hamlet took an entire hour out of the 4-hour play). However, they have left the setting and the original language intact. The illustrations follow the manga form, and blood is liberally splattered over the pages during the duels and murders that spice up the storyline.
These are great books for any manga fan who wants to branch out beyond Peach Girl, Shakespeare aficionados who enjoy creative adaptations of the Bard, or high school students who need to read the plays for school but who keep falling asleep over their textbooks. These books are even better than Cliffs notes!

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