Shakespeare in Modern English breaks the taboo about Shakespeare’s texts, which have long been regarded as sacred and untouchable while being widely and freely translated into foreign languages. It is designed to make Shakespeare more easily understood in the theatre without dumbing down or simplifying the content.
Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, ‘Coriolanus’ and ‘The Tempest’ are presented in Macdonald’s book in modern English. They show that these great plays lose nothing by being acted or read in the language we all use today. Shakespeare’s language is poetic, elaborately rich and memorable, but much of it is very difficult to comprehend in the theatre when we have no notes to explain allusions, obsolete vocabulary and whimsical humour. Foreign translations of Shakespeare are normally into their modern language. So why not ours too?
The purpose in rendering Shakespeare into modern English is to enhance the enjoyment and understanding of audiences in the theatre. The translations are not designed for children or dummies, but for those who want to understand Shakespeare better, especially in the theatre.
Shakespeare in Modern English will appeal to those who want to understand the rich and poetical language of Shakespeare in a more comprehensible way. It is also a useful tool for older students studying Shakespeare.