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Top ReviewsShakespeare Made Palatable
by Kindle Customer (4 out of 5 stars)
July 8, 2018
I saw this book as a Book Bub sale item and I was immediately intrigued. As an English teacher, I taught Shakespeare's plays and as a college student, I saw "Star Wars" in theaters, so I was excited to see the two meet. Ian Doescher makes the story of Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and the rebellion against the Empire fit for the stage. It could easily be one of the Bard's plays. Sometimes Doescher uses Shakespeare's exact words and phrases, which clearly describes the actions and emotions of the characters in Star Wars. Another reviewer mentioned that this was given to a teenager to help him understand Shakespeare for school. What a great idea! This was a fun read for me. I recommend it if you are looking for something different, and if you enjoy Shakespeare and/or Star Wars..
Yea Verily and all that stuff
by Phred,Top Contributor: Manga (3 out of 5 stars)
March 9, 2019
Ian Doescher's Star Wars; Verily a New Hope may help make a bridge for the first time, struggling Shakespeare student. By the end I was tired.
I was one of those who saw the original Star Wars, when there was only the one. In fact I saw it about 7 times in that first year, although my excuse was to take one who had not yet seen it and watch their reactions. As a technical achievement Industrial Light and Magic took us into entirely new levels of expectations. What I have since realized is that it was never intended to be much more than a Space Opera. That is an old school B movie western/cliff hanger serial but in space rather than the Wild West. Dialogue is not what sells the George Lucas space movie empire.
Shakespeare is justly remembered for his dialogue. So I tip the hat to Ian Doescher for his Star Wars; Verily a New Hope. Had it been a choice I am sure Lucas would have hired The Bard to save his dialogue. As is Lucas turned to another great British playwright, Tom Stoppard to help save Revenge of the Sith.
Ian Doescher makes a valiant effort. I was not entirely amused. As a joke it wears thin early on. As an experiment in adaptation I am not positive that Doescher maintains Shakespearean, 16the century rhythms. The result is uneven with a few too many robot sounds interrupting the play held on the stage of the Globe Theater. Somewhat irritating is the decision, somewhere after the start of the screen play to give R2D2 the ability to directly speak to the audience while his in the scene dialoged is restricted to something like the original beeps.
A special call out to illustrator Nicolas Delort. Stylistically they wonderfully re-imagine the space characters as they would be portrayed in a high end playbook. Great humor is also present as certain 'special' effects are reduced to what might have been done on an Elizabethan stage. Vader weeping over the burning Death Star is wonderful; as is the same heroically villainous character on the cover in his period costume.
Doescher has several more of these kinds of Lucas/The Bard script adaptations. I will not be getting them.
This past semester he studied Romeo and Juliet in English and recently told me he did better than mo
by ME Painter (5 out of 5 stars)
December 14, 2017
I purchased this, and the other Star Wars Shakespeare books for my 14 year old son who he loves them and is being hopeful for them being published for the next trilogy and Rogue One. This past semester he studied Romeo and Juliet in English and recently told me he did better than most of his class and credited these books for helping him comprehend Shakespeare. He showed several to his teacher and she was delighted and agreed that they assisted his understanding of the Bard. I highly recommend.
William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Tis no moon...
by Nicholas King (5 out of 5 stars)
September 4, 2014
As an unabashed lover of both Star Wars and the Bard, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to read a mash-up of the two. Ian Doescher's William Shakespeare's Star Wars is great fun to read. The author manages to capture the quintessential myths underpinning Star Wars and make them over using an Elizabethan idea of drama. All of the elements of good Shakespearian drama are present and Doescher uses the medium to explore the characters in new ways.
Shakespearian plays are the settings of high drama, regardless of genre. This version of Star Wars manages to bridge the gap between the Flash Gordon-inspired films and Shakespeare's sensibilities regarding destiny, power, and the struggle between good and evil. If you're a writer and you haven't borrowed an archetype or two from the Bard, you're not doing it right. Even Lucas drew from the same well of myths as Shakespeare, which he discovered through the writings of the late Joseph Campbell. Doescher makes every effort to reconcile these two threads. The dialogue is clunky at times (even by Shakespearian standards). It's difficult to picture the more fantastical elements (such as Vader's duel with Kenobi or the Death Star trench run) working on stage.
The characters we know and adore take center stage in this adaptation. Doescher allows his chosen form to reveal character traits through asides and soliloquies, much like Shakespeare did. Each of the main characters gets their chance to stand center stage and reveal their desires, their fears, and their doubts to the reader (as they would on stage). There are moments, like with Obi-wan contemplating telling Luke about Vader's identity, which were only told through expressions and body language in the film.
The writing takes prominence in this book. Doescher uses iambic pentameter effectively most of the time. Given the constraints of merging Elizabethan phrasing with technobabble, Doescher does an excellent job. The information is conveyed in such a way through the text that a reader could grasp what the characters are trying to say. Doescher also manages to find interesting ways to throw in the most memorable lines from the film into the dialogue. The downside of iambie pentameter (aside from it not being a familiar cadence for modern readers) is the often indirect ways something has to be said. There are times the dialogue is spotty or more of a mouthful than would be comfortable. Sometimes the dialogue meanders its way to where it needs to go, which can be a problem for those not familiar with Shakespeare's plays. The first two acts are quick reads, as is the fifth act. The third and fourth are the most problematic in terms of writing and feel like they drag on and on. These acts are incidentally the escape from the Death Star sequence.
Despite the sometimes laborious sections, I heartily recommend this book for Star Wars fans and fans of the Bard's great works. It isn't often that I'm surprised by a book but this book accomplished that feat.
If you are a fan of Shakespeare and "Star Wars" read this book.
by Kitten Fluff Knits (5 out of 5 stars)
April 16, 2015
Twins, separated at birth, brought together by fate to fight a war for the good of all, pitted unknowingly against their own father. With combat, subplots with comic relief, a ghost, and an antihero on the side, sounds like a pretty good Shakespeare play to me.
But really, it's the plot of "Star Wars." So why does it sound so much like an Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy? Because George Lucas based his screenplay on the same literary archetypes and structures Shakespeare used (and is often credited for creating) in his writing.
Now Ian Doescher has taken these two icons and brought them together in "William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope". This script, for it is written in script format, follows scene by scene "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" but is completely in Iambic Pentameter, with the added flourish of some Elizabethan Early Modern English.
Fans of the Bard and Star Wars will find plenty of in-jokes throughout the text that are not directly from "A New Hope". For example, Luke has a rousing speech that references both "Julius Caesar" and "Henry V", and Han Solo waxes sentimental about his days as a nerf herder. For those who are fans of only one or the other, many jokes may go by unnoticed. For those unfamiliar with both source materials, this is unlikely to be a book of any interest.
There is a scholarly element to this book for those who wish to look for it, but all in all, it's just a lot of fun. I laughed out loud at moments (not something I'm apt to do when reading), and as a theatre artist, found myself thinking of possible staging solutions for battles in space. And there are illustrations, some of which I would happily frame and hang on my wall.
There are some flaws, of course, mostly in structure. Shakespeare was a wordsmith and very spare with stage directions; it was all about the language. And "Star Wars" tells a lot of story visually. As a result, Doescher employs a Chorus to deal with much of the action, and said Chorus is perhaps a bit too present within scenes. Also, as previously mentioned, the entire thing is written in Iambic Pentameter. Although this was the primary verse form in which Shakespeare wrote, nowhere in his work is any play written ENTIRELY in Iambic Pentameter. He would use prose or another form of verse to identify class, relationship, and even social situations. The TYPE of verse, or prose, was just as important in Shakespeare's writing and it seems Doescher missed that element of the Bard's style. But then again, this is the nit-picky, scholarly bits.
I'll just bring it back to this: If you are a fan of Shakespeare and "Star Wars" read this book. Enjoy it. Have fun. Laugh. And if anyone has plans to mount a stage production, call me. (Review also posted on Goodreads.com)
What darkness through yonder viewport breaks? 'Tis the void, and Darth Vader mooneth thou.
by Karen P. Rhodes (5 out of 5 stars)
March 21, 2015
Of course, there's sex and violence -- it's Shakespeare! But Shakespeare as I had not seen it before (outside of reading it in the original Klingon, that is). The descriptive fields we are given as reviewers (is there violence, is there sex, what's the mood, etc.) are inadequate to this particular work. We are not given "utterly madcap and hilarious" as a choice for the mood, but that is what best fits this book.
This rendering -- in all senses of the word -- of a Shakespearean version of the basic Star Wars tale is hilarious! It helps if you are both a literature nerd and a Star Wars fan. I'm not so much a Star Wars fan anymore -- that last movie turned me right off it, I'm sorry to say. But with my knowledge of the first three movies, and with my appreciation for Shakespeare, I found this book full of bellylaughs!
Doeth or doeth not. I know not "try."
Brilliant. Just brilliant
by Canadian eReader (5 out of 5 stars)
March 26, 2014
This week I have read some fun books. The first of these is William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher. Doescher has taken the script for George Lucas's Star Wars movie and translated it into Shakespearean English, complete with the Bard's iconic iambic pentameter.
In short, this is the most brilliant piece of writing I have read in a long time. I am a big fan of the original trilogy Star Wars movies and it's just incredible how well they work in Shakespearean language. Doescher studied Shakespeare and is also a big sci-fi geek and his understanding of both media comes across very well. The dichotomy of the sci-fi content in old fashioned language adds a real interest to the writing. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to play "spot the (adapted) Shakespeare quotation." For example, we have "Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not" referencing Hamlet's thoughts on Yorrick.
I have both the audiobook (narrated by a troupe of Shakespearean actors including the author himself) and I strongly recommend experiencing William Shakespeare's Star Wars in audiobook format rather than the written word. The cast really brings it to life.
They were recommended by a teenage who was a fan of the ...
by Amazon Customer (4 out of 5 stars)
January 25, 2016
I had read the two following books and I was prepared for this one. They were recommended by a teenage who was a fan of the show and these Dr. Doescher stories. I had read the three novels of the original movies by Allen Dean Foster years ago. This was a new take on the movies with the Shakespearian language and this made it a new and interesting read. It did follow the plot and gave some personality to the Storm Troppers. It also made me want to read some of the plays by Shakespeare. It put poetry into what was a cowboy story set in space. It was a very enjoyable reading experience. All three were great to read. Of course, I have seen the three original movies several times.
Humorous and informative
by Afalstein (4 out of 5 stars)
March 10, 2014
Doescher's re-interpretation of the sci-fi classic retains the plot--and indeed much of the dialogue--of the re-released A New Hope fairly accurately. His ability to render George Lucas's casual dialogue into iambic pentameter is impressive, and it can be highly amusing to hear the rough Han speak in Elizabeth English (his conversation with the intercom in the cell block is even more hilarious than the original). The work's chief weakness is that often it seems repetitive, re-hashing conversations and plot points from the original movie without much variation, or shoe-horning various famous Shakespearean quotes into unrelated scenes. When Doescher does alter or add to the narrative, it is often highly amusing and rewarding (Stormtroopers who comment on the inanity of their own behavior, occasional soliluqies highlighting well-known plot holes). One just wishes he had done it a bit more.
On the whole, though, the work is well-crafted and humorous, with engaging illustrations and witty commentary, and is a useful tool to acquaint students with the language of Shakespeare.
A Surprisingly Invaluable Tool for English Teachers
by Matthew Sampson (5 out of 5 stars)
September 14, 2013
I have always loved Star Wars, born with it, raised on it, followed it passionately for many years. So when I was alerted to the existence of "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" I laughed, and looked it up. After reading an excerpt, I was intrigued, and instantly ordered a copy. When it finally arrived, I sat down, gave it a read, and realized something shocking.
The book is INCREDIBLY useful.
Having sat through high school, I have realized that not too many students "Get" Shakespeare. In the words of Edmund Blackadder, "Every Schoolboy and Schoolgirl...standing around in tights going 'What ho, my lord' and 'here comes somebody spewing utter crap as usual'", Shakespeare is not the most accessible playwright and poet to understand.
"William Shakespeare's Star Wars" is useful for English teachers who wish to allow their students to understand Shakespeare's manner of writing, by giving them familiar content in Shakespearean English, opening their mind to the subtleties of Shakespeare's writings, the jokes, the insults, the asides, all now understandable through the magic of some English nerd who just so happened to get the BRILLIANT idea to translate Star Wars into Shakespearean English.
This book, and I do not often say this, is a MUST READ for any Star Wars fan, or anyone struggling to understand Shakespeare.
Bravo Mr. Doescher, you have outdone yourself.
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