Townhouse Books

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gertrude and Claudius: by John Updike

It's the Hamlet pre-story, told mostly from Hamlet's mother's point of view, of her young marriage to a neglectful warrier, birthing "Amleth," many years later indulging in an affair with her passionate brother-in-law, her second marriage after being widowed, etc., taking the reader right to the point when Shakespeare's "Hamlet" picks up and bringing a whole other dimension to characters we knew previously only as wicked. Eminently readable, familiar at times and then not so, the book successfully expands the Hamlet story without feeling like an immature exercise of a writer's-blocked author. Whatever inspired Updike to play with this idea, he pulled it off well. Who knew the story of murderous adultery would be such a joy to read?

And I just liked this bit below--it's King Horvendile speaking of Ophelia

She is not merely shy; she is fey. Her brain holds a crack any ill circumstance might jar agape.



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3 Comments:

  • Hmmm...
    I tend to enjoy this type of book, but I fear Updike!!!

    By Anna, at 6:38 PM  

  • Don't fear this one! Despite my ambiguity toward Updike, I keep going back to him.

    I'll mail the book to you.

    By evt1618, at 10:24 AM  

  • Did you read the afterward? He was inspired by Kenneth B's "Hamlet" movie. Thanks for sending me the book, Emily -- it was not awful.

    By Anna, at 7:11 AM  

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