"More things in heaven and earth" : new directions in Hamlet adaptations

Title: "More things in heaven and earth" : new directions in Hamlet adaptations
Source document: Theory and Practice in English Studies. 2022, vol. 11, iss. 1, pp. 49-59
  • ISSN
    1805-0859 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Hamlet seems to be everywhere, from t-shirts encouraging the drinking of "two beers or not two beers" to advertisements for everything under the sun. Hollywood has entered the fray with its box-office animated hit The Lion King or the popular motorcycle gang television series Sons of Anarchy, to name but a few examples. We would seem to have reached Hamlet overload. Does the Prince of Denmark have anything left in the tank for contemporary readers of serious fiction? This paper will examine three recent Hamlet adaptation novels: Lisa Klein's Ophelia (2006), Ian McEwan's Nutshell (2016) and Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet (2020). The above-mentioned novels will be used to exemplify three of the most frequent current approaches, all amounting to forms of intertextuality: the Joycean, involving tracing links between Shakespeare's life and the plays; the Stoppardian, consisting of spin-offs of the play focusing on characters other than Hamlet himself; the 'updating' approach where the bare bones of the plot of the play are employed for a narrative taking place in the present day. Hamlet, despite his fears of falling into oblivion, very much lives on "to tell my [his] story" (Shakespeare, 5.2 302).
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