Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What to read by Margaret Atwood after you've reread A Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood is one of the authors who is rewriting Shakespeare's plays for the "Hogarth Shakespeare'" collection. Her novel, Hag-Seed, is a r-imagining of Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest. Unlike some of the plays in the series so far (I'm thinking of Jeanette Winterson's luminous retelling of The Winter's Tale, Gap of Time), The Tempest is a play that's been re-imagined mamy, many times, most recently in Julie (The Lion King) Taymor's version with Helen Mirren as "Prospera." 

All of Shakespeare's plays are full of quotable lines, but my very favorite exchange in all of Shakespeare is a conversation between Prospero and Caliban. "You taught me language," Caliban says to Prospero, "and my profit on't is I know how to curse." I've seen about half a dozen performances of the play, including one stunning version mounted by Ellis Rabb and another starring Anthony Hopkins as Prospero. (Stephanie Zimbalist played Miranda.) 

I'm looking forward to reading Atwood's "take" on the tale because the books I've read so far have been terrific.  I'm especially looking forward to Nesbo's Macbeth, which is one of my favorite plays, despite its reputation for being a cursed piece of work.

Other books will be published over the next four years, including Jo Nesbo's version of Macbeth and Gillian Flynn's Hamlet. Tracy Chevalier's Othello re-do will be out this fall. I already have Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl (The Taming of the Shrew) and Howard Jacobson's Shylock is My Name (The Merchant of Venice).

i'm surious how much of a feminist take on the play Hag-Seed will have. One of the things that has always bothered me about The Tempest is the way Prospero stole the island from Caliban's mother, the witch Sycorax.


  1. I cannot imagine undertaking such a project. The possibility of failure is so high especially in terms of sparkling language.

    1. I think everyone's gone off on their own tangents. Gap of Time was so beautifully written that I went in search of other books by the author, who also wrote ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT. Which is sitting on my TBR pile.