Read Shakespeare Side-by-Side in a Modern Translation
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This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare‘s death, and it’s an occasion to celebrate. Shakespeare had such a profound impact on the English language and the art of writing plays that we’re still reading and discussing his works centuries later.

Maybe you’ve never read the Bard’s works, or perhaps you tried and found it too hard to read the old language. If you’ve resolved to make 2016 the year you finally dig into Shakespeare, No Fear Shakespeare can help.

No Fear Shakespeare (NFS) comes from SparkNotes, a site that offers summaries of classic books (often used by busy high school students). NFS is not a summary, though — it’s a complete re-writing of Shakespeare’s plays in modern language.

These updated versions run side-by-side with the original plays, allowing you to easily switch back and forth and see what an old work translates to modern times.


You can utilize these in a few different ways: if you want to just read the modern version, go ahead! If you find footnotes and explanations confusing inside paper copies of Shakespeare, try reading the original text and referring to the modern side when you come across an unfamiliar phrase.

Or, read the original and then read the same page in the modern text to reinforce your understanding of it. It’s all up to what you want to try!

Those who have found Shakespeare inaccessible should give it another try with NFS. Hamlet was the last Shakespeare play I had to read in high school, and I actually enjoyed it since I used the NFS version — it allows you to pick up on subtleties of the character’s personalities that you might miss in the original text.

Need to read even more? Check out places to find free eBooks online.

Image Credit: iofoto via

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  1. Justin Johnson
    January 26, 2016 at 6:14 pm


    The gentleman above pictured as Shakespeare is Tom Boshamer. He plays William Shakespeare at the Carolina Renaissance Festival and has for years! He's a really great guy. It's always amusing to see him pop up in pictures like this.

    • Ben Stegner
      January 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Hey, that's so cool! I had no idea who he was; I found the image on Shutterstock by searching for "Shakespeare Modern," I think. It's amazing that you identified him — I guess he's Internet famous : )

  2. Russ
    January 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Always love seeing what place my friend Tom Boshamer (the Shakespeare guy in the picture) will pop up next!