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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: October ::
Re: Adaptations: Smiley's *Acres*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 634.  Thursday, 7 October 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Katy Egerton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Oct 93 14:28 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Adaptations - Jane Smiley's _A Thousand Acres_
 
(2)     From:   Ed Pechter <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Oct 1993 19:14:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0631  Q: Adaptations of Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Katy Egerton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Oct 93 14:28 EDT
Subject:        Re: Adaptations - Jane Smiley's _A Thousand Acres_
 
Smiley's _A Thousand Acres_ recasts the Lear story in the Iowa farm
crisis of the early 1980's.  Ginny (Goneril) is the principle
speaker, and her telling of the tale highlights, among other things,
an intriguing reading of the play in terms of gender.
 
Cordelia is almost a non-presence, Lear an abusive father, etc..
I've been a fan of Smiley's for a long time, and while I prefer her
novellas ("The Age of Grief" and _Ordinary Love & Good Will_), I
thought that _ATA_ deserved its Pulitzer.
 
In terms of studying the links with/departures from Lear, what about
the "punishments" - the blinding of Gloucester (ammonia poisioning)
and Rose's (Reagan's) breast cancer interested me specifically.
 
cheerio - Kate Egerton  (
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pechter <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Oct 1993 19:14:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0631  Q: Adaptations of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0631  Q: Adaptations of Shakespeare
 
To Cora Eng,
 
I wouldn't get hung up on *A Thousand Acres* as an "adaptation" of *King Lear*;
"adaptation" suggests that Smiley was based in *Lear* when writing her novel,
but it seems to me the other way round.  The novel has its own concerns and
energy and makes use of *Lear* to suggest resonances of the heroic and mythic:
this book isn't limited to The Fate of the Family Farm. Would you really want
to get into specific similarities between, say, Gloucester and the other farmer
who gets blinded?  You COULD do that, if you wanted to, but I don't think it
would be very useful.  On the other hand, if that's what your prof wants . . .
Good luck.
 

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