A drum a drum! Macbeth doth come!
February 7, 2012 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Macbeth: Looking for a good annotated version of the Scottish play, geared toward a lay reader without a lot of Shakespeare knowledge, rather than an academic or expert. Open to one with a modern "translation" on each facing page. Interested in hardcopy, not electronic format. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The New Cambridge series is good, albeit a little on the academic side. (My favorite series is the Arden 3rd, but the Arden 3rd Macbeth isn't out yet, and I think New Cambridge is a little more readable than Arden 2nd edition.)
posted by phoenixy at 11:08 AM on February 7, 2012

The New Cambridge edition is good, but maybe skews a little academic-ish, at least judging by the footnotes. You could also try the Folger Shakespeare Library version or the Annotated Shakespeare one.

As for an edition with a modern "translation", you could do worse than the No Fear Shakespeare edition. (Looks like it's not currently sold by Amazon, but you can find it used.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2012

"Good annotated" and "not academic" are kind of in conflict with one another. None of the modern-translation-on-facing-page editions I've seen - No Fear, Shakespeare Made Easy, etc. - have what you can call "good annotations." They're minimal annotations at best, with minimal introductory material that doesn't really help you get a handle on the deeper issues and structures of the plays.

Flip through either the Arden, Oxford World's Classics or Bedford editions for meaty annotations and solid introductions that you can skim or read depending on how "academic" you want to get. But they're all generally accessible to an educated layperson and are far more useful for understanding the context, language, meanings and genital jokes in Shakespeare than any of the "facing page" editions I've looked at.
posted by mediareport at 8:59 PM on February 7, 2012

My favorites are The Applause Shakespeare Library. Like the Folger editions, they have the text on one page and annotations on the facing page. I find this much easier to read than the footnotes of the Arden and Oxford editions. The Applause notes also dive into staging and interpretation which I enjoy. Arden and Oxford notes are much more textual (i.e. what does this word mean, or what did an alternate printing have vs. what does Macbeth mean or this is how the RSC staged this moment).

Seconding mediareport's suggestion to stay away from translation editions. The translations are actually so bad at times that they actually obscure the intended meaning. And it's not like Shakespeare is a foreign language. It's modern English with some quirky scansion and vocabulary.
posted by zanni at 1:12 AM on February 8, 2012

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