Friday, January 15, 2010

Manga Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (YA)

Julius Caesar (Manga Shakespeare) Mustashrik (Illustrator). Richard Appignanesi (Text). 2008. Abrams. 208 pages. (YA)

The people of Rome celebrate Julius Caesar's triumph over his rival, Pompey, but some loyal republicans fear Caesar's ambition...

I finally read Manga Shakespeare's edition of Julius Caesar. (Others in the series which I've read and reviewed are Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.) I haven't always been the biggest fan of the series. I'll be honest. I like reading the text. It is reader friendly for the most part. And it does make it easier to grasp the important, the significant bits of the original plays. But the illustrations I have a tougher job appreciating. And I think that is mostly me. I am not a fair judge (at all, not even a little bit) of the illustrations. Here is a page where you can see the artwork for yourself and judge. You'll see some sample page spreads.

Have you been required to read this Shakespeare play for school? I know it was part of the requirements back when I was in high school. The only thing I really took away from it then was "Beware the Ides of March." That and the fact that we had to memorize Antony's little speech:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Do you have any memories (good or bad) of reading Julius Caesar?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  9:27 AM  

Well, that art doesn't look very Roman, does it?

I've never read the play, but I've enjoyed both versions of it that I've seen. L.

Jeane 11:05 AM  

I had to read quite a bit of Shakespeare in high school. I have not yet read any graphic novels, much less manga, and that artwork style does not appeal to me. But I have to say it's pretty cool that there's someone publishing this stuff, making Shakespeare a lot more accessible to modern readers.

Mary 11:28 AM  

I have just discovered graphic novels and this series sounds very interesting. I will have to give these a try!

Kailana 3:15 PM  

I read a few of these books in this series, but I didn't really like them, so I doubt I will be reading anymore.

Sherry 4:04 PM  

Julius Caesar was probably the second Shakespeare I ever read (first was Romeo and Juliet). I remember it well. In fact, one of my children had the word "grievous" in her vocabulary list kjthis week, and I quoted to her, "It was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answered it."

Jennie 1:00 PM  

When we read it, we actually acted it out with props and costumes, so I remember everyone wearing bedsheet togas and long drawn-out death scenes.

I also saw a (rather poor) production once where one of the actors sounded unfortunately like a pirate, so now I hear most lines from the play in a bad pirate voice.

Andrea 9:23 AM  

I like the artwork,but I'm not sure about it for Julius Cesar. But what a great way to get kids interested in Shakespeare.

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