I’m sorry to tell you this, but you will never escape the influence of William Shakespeare, ever.
When you were told in twelfth-grade English that Hamlet or Macbeth would be your last encounter with the Bard, you were lied to. But, you should not consider this a bad thing.
10 Things I Hate About You, the 1999 film with Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.The 1961 musical West Side Story is a retelling of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.And the FX hit Sons of Anarchy saw a retelling of Hamlet in the style of a motorcycle gang.
Now, what does this have to do with anything?
Well, retellings of Shakespeare are all around us.
This is true even when it isn’t a blatant retelling, as the Bard is a constant reminder of how storytelling has evolved.
In turn, this takes us to present day, where The Hogarth Press, founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1917, has created The Hogarth Shakespeare Project which aims to retell some of Shakespeare most renowned works by acclaimed and bestselling authors of today.
Jeanette Winterson, award-winning English novelist of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was tasked with the first release of the ambitious project.Winterson’s contribution, The Gap of Time, is a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s final plays, The Winter’s Tale.For those unfamiliar with The Winter’s Tale, in a nutshell, is all about Fencing.Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge… just kidding, it’s not the Princess Bride.
What’s great about the book, if you buy it, is it has a synopsis of the play at the beginning, and then the retelling, so even if you aren’t familiar with the play, you will get the gist of it before you start the retelling.The book itself is tiny, only 273 pages, and took me about two days to finish.Personally, I found the retelling interesting; it was set in both modern London and Louisiana, and I think the settings helped along the story.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
I do plan on picking up the rest of the project, the next being Shylock is my Name, a retelling of The Merchant of Venice, by Howard Jacobson, and will eagerly be waiting for Gillian Flynn’s, of Gone Girl fame, and her retelling of Hamlet, which finishes the project in 2021.
Interested in the project, or any of the retellings featured? Let me know with a comment, and until next time, happy reading!