Riffing on the Bard

Posted on May 18, 2018

by Jan C

In 2015, to recognize the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Hogarth introduced a series of books by contemporary authors reimagining Shakespeare’s plays, the Hogarth Shakespeare series. That’s tricky business. After all, we’re talking about The Bard. The man has his own section in the Humanities Department at Main Library under 822.33, which is where you’ll find shelves upon shelves of Shakespeare’s plays, books about his life and times as well as criticisms and appreciations of his breathtaking achievements. Visit Humanities and see the amazing, handmade replica of the Globe Theater, made in 1941 by Ernest Conklin and donated by the Toledo Shakespeare Club.

So, who would deign riff on one of his plays? So far, the list is quite impressive.

Shakespeare Adaptations by Contemporary Authors

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

A Gap of Time” by Jeanette Winterson

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” moves from London after the 2008 financial crisis to the storm-ravaged American city of New Bohemia, in a story of the destructive effect of jealousy and the redemptive power of love.

Shylock is my name / Howard Jacobson

Shylock is My Name” by Howard Jacobson

In this provocative and profound interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl” by Anne Tyler

This retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew” follows the experiences of a preschool teacher who alienates others by speaking her mind and who is expected by her eccentric father to marry his assistant to prevent the young man’s deportation.

Also available in Audio, eBook and eAudio.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed” by Margaret Atwood

A psychologically charged story inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” follows the retribution plot of a deposed artistic director who teaches prison inmates while consulting with a fantasy child who has taken the place of the daughter he lost years earlier.

Also available in Audio, eBook and eAudio.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy” by Tracy Chevalier

An imaginative retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello,” that places events in 1970’s America and follows the experiences of two diverse children who navigate themes of love, betrayal, racism and revenge on the playground of their all-white school.

Also available in Large Print and eBook.

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Dunbar” by Edward St. Aubyn

A modern reimagining of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” follows the experiences of a man who in the wake of an orchestrated public mental breakdown is sent to a Switzerland sanatorium by the daughters who would seize his fortune, a plot he resolves to foil with the assistance of a colorful sidekick.

Also available in eAudio.

MacBeth by Jo Nesbo

Macbeth” by Jo Nesbo

Reimagines Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” set in a rundown industrial town, where Hecate, a drug dealer, tells Inspector Macbeth he will replace the chief of police Duncan and his lover Lady plots to make it happen.

Also available in Audio and eBook.

In 2021, Hogarth will release Gillian Flynn’s retelling of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” You heard right, THAT Gillian Flynn, the author of “Gone Girl,” “Dark Places” and “Sharp Objects” and THAT Hamlet. Remains to be seen. Pun intended.

Toledo Lucas County Public Library Resources

Did you know?

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