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A Midsummer Night's Dream (Barnes & Noble Shakespeare) Paperback – Jul 30 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Shakespeare; annotated edition edition (July 26 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1411400380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1411400382
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,546,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
Be warned, if you're looking for the original text of Shakespeare's play, this is not it - this is a retelling of the play by Bruce Coville in the attempt to introduce younger readers to the realm of Shakespeare.
In attempting that, he succeeds very well in bringing the text to a new format - all the components of the tale are here (though obviously abridged), and are clearly and smoothly told, keeping most of the spirit of the play, as well as the most important of quotes, for instance - "The course of true love never did run smooth," and "What fools these mortals be".
Three plot threads run throughout the story set in ancient Athens under the rule of the Duke Theseus about to be wed to his own Amazon-bride. Foremost is the love-tangle between the virtually indistinguishable Helena, Lysander, Hermia and Demetrius. When Hermia and Demetrius decide to elope, racing away into the woods, Lynsander follows (who has been promised Hermia by her father), and chasing after him is the spurned Helena, desparately (and pathetically) in love with him.
Meanwhile, the King and Queen of Fairies, Oberon and Titania are having what can only be called a domestic over a young changeling boy that Oberon wants to join his service, but who Titania is determined to keep in remembrance of his mother, her devoted friend. To punish his Queen, Oberon sends his servent, the hobgoblin Puck, to fetch a flower capable of making anyone under its spell fall in love with whatever creature they behold.
Finally, the group of players led by Peter Quince and joined by Francis Flute and the famous Nick Bottom journey into the forest to practice their play to perform on the Duke's wedding day, and fall the victims of Puck's prankish nature, when he transforms the head of Bottom into that of an ass.
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Format: Paperback
On the first read, I thought this was really silly stuff, but on the second read I thought it had some of Shakespheare's best romantic poetry in it.
This story contains yet another authoritarian father of Shakespheare's creation, Egeus, telling his daughter Hermia who she will marry (Demetrius) and not marry (Lysander). There is also her sister Helena who is in love with Demetrius, but Demetrius does not love her. Enter the fairies, mainly Oberon and his servant Puck who muck things up further by enchanting Lysander and Demetrius into falling in love with Helena instead of their previous darling girl Hermia. Tension ensues as Helena thinks that she is being mocked and Hermia thinks that Helena has stolen away her men. Puck and the fairies eventually right things by enchanting Demetrius to match up with Hermia and Lysander with Helena.
There is a subplot with working class rustics who try to put on a play of Pyramus and Thisbe, two lovers that die tragically. (Imagine construction workers putting on a romantic play, for modern day comparison.) The leader Snug and his company of Bottom, Quince, Flute, Snout, and Starveling prepare a play at night in the woods and the mischievous fairy Puck attaches a donkey's posterior to Bottom's head and makes the queen fairy Titania fall in love with him and his fine feature. Eventually, Puck reverses this predicament before the night is over.
Bottom and company put on the play in the last act for the nobles of city who are Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his company of the soon to be married nobles Demetrius and Hermia and Lysander and Helena, among others. The play is so bad it's comical. The usual tragic romantic deaths in plays like Romeo and Juliet are parodied in this act.
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Format: Hardcover
I wonder if "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is Wild Bill's answer to "Romeo and Juliet" and works like it: instead of being passionate, life and death, as-important-as-the universe, here love and romance is light, frivolous, fickle and funny.
Love is in the air; love is everywhere. But at the middle of it all are two women with frustratingly similar names: Helena and Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander but is engaged (by a controlling father) to Demetrius. Helena loves Demetrius, who can think of no one but Hermia. Until a fairy god and an impish spirit step in and sprinkle some love-juice around: suddenly it's all a mess, everyone switches partners like at a square dance. But, naturally, it all works out in the end, and two pairs of lovers emerge to live happily ever after.
Two subplots add to the silliness of love: Titania, the fairy queen, under a spell sent by her husband, falls in love with a man with an donkey's head. (read: there is no objectivity in love, no "ideal lover".) Then, a bunch of fools perform a hilaroiusly awful play for the king, a play about tragically separated and suicidal lovers...something like Romeo and Juliet. (read: tragedy and love together are hilariously overdramatic.)
A enjoyable, funny, light, fairly fast play to read and perform. You gotta love Puck. The only real difficulty I had was keeping Helena and Hermia straight -- now, who loves who?
And really, in the end, it doesn't matter who loves who, just that all are loved.
Make sure you don't read one of those nasty prose or abridged versions here. Half the fun is the meter, and it's definitely short and sweet enough not to need abridgement.
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