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Rewriting Shakespeare? Not really.

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0318  Monday, 8 July 2013

 

[1] From:        Bo Bergstrom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 28, 2013 6:32:00 PM EDT

     Subject:     Random House Project to Rewrite Shakespeare 

 

[2] From:        Al Magary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 28, 2013 3:02:09 PM EDT

     Subject:     Rewriting Shakespeare?  Not really.

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Bo Bergstrom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 28, 2013 6:32:00 PM EDT

Subject:     Random House Project to Rewrite Shakespeare 

 

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/random-house-project-to-rewrite-shakespeare/?ref=booksupdate&nl=books&emc=edit_bk_20130628

 

And the rationale is?

 

From The New York Times online:

 

June 27, 2013, 1:24 pm 

Random House Project to Rewrite Shakespeare

By Jennifer Schuessler

 

There is still a rogue faction of literary scholars and obsessive amateurs who claim that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. But there’s no debate about the identity of the first two authors who will be rewriting the plays as part of a major new project announced by Random House’s Hogarth imprint.

 

Jeanette Winterson will be reworking “The Winter’s Tale” and Anne Tyler will be tweaking “The Taming of the Shrew” as part of the new series, to be called the Hogarth Shakespeare. The first two volumes will be released in 2016, in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Clara Farmer, Hogarth’s publishing director, told The Guardian that Random House was happy to hear from authors who wanted to participate in the project, which is expected to cover the entire Shakespeare canon. (“We need people to step up for the tragedies,” she said.)

 

For Ms. Winterson, the choice of “The Winter’s Tale” was easy. “All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around,” she told The Guardian. “I have worked with ‘The Winter’s Tale’ in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right. And I love cover versions.”

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Al Magary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 28, 2013 3:02:09 PM EDT

Subject:     Rewriting Shakespeare?  Not really.

 

The NYT arts blog item on this was headed “Random House Project to Rewrite Shakespeare,” but the Guardian’s article describes the project quite differently.

 

Cheers,

Al Magary

 

Shakespeare’s canon to be reworked by authors including Jeanette Winterson and Anne Tyler

 

Alison Flood    

The Guardian, 26 June 2013 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/27/shakespeare-reworked-jeanette-winterson-anne-tyler/print

 

Jeanette Winterson is set to write a “cover version” of Shakespeare’s late play, The Winter’s Tale, as part of a “major” new project reimagining Shakespeare’s canon for a 21st-century audience.

 

Following the current trend for modern retellings of classic stories – Val McDermid, Joanna Trollope and Curtis Sittenfeld are all currently writing reworkings of Jane Austen – the Shakespeare project will launch in 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

 

Publisher Random House hopes it will bring Shakespeare “alive for a contemporary readership”, and plans to kick off the programme with prose “retellings” of The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s late play of jealousy and forgiveness, from Whitbread award-winner Winterson, and The Taming of the Shrew from the Pulitzer-winning American novelist Anne Tyler.

 

“All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around,” said Winterson. “I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right. And I love cover versions.”

 

Tyler, who will be tackling the controversial relationship at the heart of The Taming of the Shrew, in which the rebellious Kate is “tamed” by Petruchio, said she wasn’t sure what she was looking forward to more, “delving into the mysteries of shrewish Kate or finding out what all the other writers do with their Shakespeare characters”.

 

The novels will be released under Random House’s Hogarth imprint, with the series to be called the Hogarth Shakespeare. The publisher said the new versions “will be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature”.

 

“We’re very much leaving it up to the imaginations of the authors,” said Clara Farmer, publishing director at Hogarth. “We have talked with them about following the spirit of the plays, but it isn’t helpful for them to have to paint by numbers. We want them to bring all of their imaginations and different points of view … just as Shakespeare completely contorted some of the history from which he took his own plays.”

 

Shakespeare’s plays have, in the past, been turned into everything from musicals to films, with Romeo and Juliet becoming West Side Story, and The Tempest morphing into Return to the Forbidden Planet. Tom Stoppard riffed on Hamlet to write his acclaimed play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Terry Pratchett played with A Midsummer Night’s Dream for his Discworld novel Lords and Ladies, and Jane Smiley brought King Lear into the modern day in her Pulitzer-winning novel A Thousand Acres.

 

“But this will be a coherent series,” stressed Farmer. “We hope to do the entire canon. We are already in conversation with several other authors and are really eager to hear from other people who are interested … We need people to step up for the tragedies.”

 

Winterson, she said, instantly knew which play she wanted to take on, as did Tyler. “The most thrilling bit is the moment when you talk to an author and they just know what they are going to do, as happened with Anne and Jeanette,” Farmer said. “As Jeanette said, she has been writing a version of The Winter’s Tale for many years. It’s the story of the lost girl, and it completely speaks to her as a person, as a novelist, and as a creative writer, as does The Taming of the Shrew to Anne, with her quirky wit.”

 

Winterson told the Guardian that Winter’s Tale is “the one that haunts me. An abandoned child, of course (Perdita). And Paulina, Hermione and Perdita are aspects of Woman as the Triple Goddess, while Leontes and Polixones work as the ancient motif of the Hostile Brothers. The myth framework behind the scenes is strange and wild. The late plays are like that, trying to lift the action past the human plane and into a deep sense of the universal.”

 

“Working with it is going to be a tricky gift,” she added. “Shakespeare never invented a plot line and worked from what preoccupied him – that is why he goes on being able to become so many things on stage. The Shakespeare purists miss the point about his exuberant ragbag of borrowings thrown into the alchemical furnace of his mind and lifted out transformed. He sums up the creative process, which is not concerned with originality of source but originality of re-making.”

 

 

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