Introducing “My Own Personal Shakespeare: Macbeth”

My Own Personal Shakespeare: Macbeth Edition
Available Now on Amazon!

Not long after I started Shakespeare Geek, I wrote my daughter a sonnet for her first birthday. Almost twenty years later, now in college, she asked me, “Can I get a copy of Macbeth?”

“Of course,” I told her. “Which edition did you have in mind?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I just want my own personal copy. Something I can take notes in. I have a lot of thoughts.”

Ask and ye shall receive, my lovely. For years, I’ve wanted to contribute to the Great Shakespeare Bookshelf in some way, and this was a golden opportunity to do so. The idea flashed to me fully formed at that moment, and I knew I had my answer.

Introducing The My Own Personal Shakespeare Series

I don’t think my daughter’s alone in the universe. She wants a copy of her favorite Shakespeare play. She didn’t say she needed one for a certain class. She didn’t ask for Riverside or Folger or Arden, where she could read hundreds of pages of experts telling her what’s what. My daughter is very opinionated, she’ll be the first to tell you. They made her opinion editor of the school newspaper as a freshman, she’ll tell you that, too. Why should Shakespeare be any different? She’s going to have opinions, and what better place to keep them than right next to source material?

My Own Personal Shakespeare: Macbeth Edition is a stripped-down, unannotated version of the play intended to be a blank slate where you can revisit your relationship with Shakespeare’s work. It’s deliberately laid out with copious whitespace, leaving ample room for underlining, commenting, and even doodling in the margins, At the end of each act are a few blank pages for brain dumping on a larger scale.

Envisioning this project, I was reminded of our visit to the Folger Vault where we saw Folio #72, decorated with children’s drawings throughout the pages. I don’t want Shakespeare to be a read-only reference tome, sitting high on a shelf collecting dust. My children were exposed to Shakespeare in various forms before they were five years old. I wanted a Shakespeare edition that’s welcoming, almost interactive. Open it up and look at the pictures. Maybe you can read it, maybe you understand it. Or maybe you come back in a few years.

My Own Personal Shakespeare : Macbeth Edition

There are no footnotes here. No glossary. It is a deliberate opportunity to say, “I’m not going to tell you how to approach this play, or what you’re supposed to get out of it.” There are enough reference books out there; we didn’t need to make another one. There aren’t too many editions designed to be a personal reflection, though.

The beginning reader is not left adrift, however. We’ve added some informational content – descriptions of characters and places, as well as plot summaries for all the scenes. We like to think of these as save points in a video game. If the reader is lost in Act 2 Scene 2, it’s only going to get worse in Scene 3. So each scene starts with, “Here’s what happens in this scene.” I’ve said many times over the years that one of the keys to understanding Shakespeare is to have some grasp of character and plot before you see or read the play. That’s precisely what we’ve made here.

I hope our little project finds its audience. I imagine every copy becoming a unique treasure, representing the owner’s personal insight into what Shakespeare means to them. Share it with your friends, hand it down to your children. Turn into something rich and strange.

I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments!

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