Do not bite your thumb at the No Fear Shakespeare iPhone app

Dec 20, 2010
Education

We all remember high school English class, and laboring through Shakespeare’s plays. As You Like It, King Lear, Othello – the stories, and the language, can start to run together after a while. Now, there is help for those with an aversion to Shakespearean English. The No Fear Shakespeare iPhone app (99 cents) promises to […]

We all remember high school English class, and laboring through Shakespeare’s plays. As You Like It, King Lear, Othello – the stories, and the language, can start to run together after a while.

Now, there is help for those with an aversion to Shakespearean English. The No Fear Shakespeare iPhone app (99 cents) promises to guide you through even the most difficult passages. The app is the mobile version of Spark Notes, which has long been a delinquent English student’s best friend.

Purchasing the app allows you to access one play at no extra cost. Notes for 18 plays can be purchased for $19.99.

In short, the app translates Shakespearian English into modern English, and publishes it alongside the original text.  Users can just read the modern English version, or they can read the Shakespearian English and reference the modern English when they get stuck.

It makes it much quicker to move through the passages. And the app is also packed with lots of historical facts, a plot summary and character list. But there are several downsides to the app. For one, Shakespeare is ill-fitted for the screen of an iPhone. You can only read about four lines, and then you have to swipe to turn the page. And reading a modern translation of Shakespeare means, of course, that you lose some of the brilliant language that made the plays worth reading in the first place.

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Megan O'Neil

Megan O'Neil is a journalist and freelance writer in Los Angeles. When she isn't lounging at the beach or socializing in the Hollywood Hills, she writes for the Park Labrea New/Beverly Press newspaper and the Los Angeles Times Community News Group.

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