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Retelling The Tales- A Look at Shakespeare Retold | Voices

By January 15, 2014 One Comment
Retelling The Tales- A Look at Shakespeare Retold | Voices shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard shakespeare plays list play shakespeare Steven asks the questions about Shakespeare and reinventing the wheel with this week's Voices post

Jo Nebso- Originally found at the

Shakespeare has been told and told and retold many times over the last 400 years. From  books and movies to cartoons to reimages to even a musical or five. Now, we are getting set to have another retelling with a Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo being commissioned to tell the tale of the Scottish King Macbeth as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Initiative, which is an imprint of Random House Penguin Books. The series of Shakespeare themed novels will launch in 2016 coinciding with Shakespeare death 400 years ago that year.

Now that we have that bit out of the way. I am going to be playing devil’s advocate as it were. Why in all the things that we do must we try to reinvent the wheel? Why do we feel the need to reinterpret the works of William Shakespeare? Is it because to a lot of people he is just some stuffy old guy that wrote a bunch of plays that they just don’t understand. The plays that Shakespeare wrote are just as good today as they were 400 years ago. Why must people try to put a their own spin on something someone has already done? What is that saying-In Hollywood there are no new original ideas. Well, the same kind of goes for publishing books. Most stories are just the same basic story-lines with different characters. This is just taking it one step further.

With all that being said though, I hope that this project is a success. With Shakespeare titles like The Merchant of Venice,The Tempest, and Macbeth being put in a cohesive novel form, maybe this will allow new and old fans alike to develop an appreciation of Shakespeare the likes that we have never seen.  Maybe with this new fiction line we will have a resurgence in a love for Shakespeare instead of the distaste, disdain and outright loathing he has gotten over the years from the public. This is something that I will take great pride in watching to see how it plays out.

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  • Lois Leveen says:

    I am in the midst of finishing JULIET’S NURSE, a novel that will be published in September 2014 by Simon & Schuster, which details the fourteen years leading up to the events in the play, told from the nurse’s point-of-view. So I guess I’m in a good position to weigh in on the value of reworking the Bard . . . these stories, these characters, are so rich, that for me revisiting a text like ROMEO AND JULIET combines the pleasures of reading with the riddlish challenging of writing around what my audience will already know, or think they know, but I must make fresh and compelling. I know I must write as though the reader has no idea who any of these people are, because that will be the case for many readers, but also I get to weave in all sorts of clever codes and in-jokes for those who know Shakespeare well. Writing fiction is arduous, and the more fun I can make it, while also taking on serious issues like coping with death, the better.

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