"Shakespeare's plays to be retold by novelists"
Hogarth, part of Random House publishers, has announced an ambitious international project to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
7:00AM BST 27 Jun 2013
Hogarth, the Random House transatlantic fiction imprint, has today announced an international project that aims to bring Shakespeare to a wider contemporary audience. The project, titled The Hogarth Shakespeare, will ask bestselling novelists throughout the world to retell his work in a more accessible prose form.
So far, two authors have signed up. The novelist and BAFTA award winning screen-writer Jeanette Winterson OBEhas chosen The Winter's Tale, a play close to her heart: "All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around. 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."
Anne Tyler will join Winterson on Hogarth’s new endeavour and has chosen The Taming of the Shrew. The Pulitzer prize winner said: "I don’t know which I’m looking forward to more: ‘Delving into the mysteries of shrewish Kate or finding out what all the other writers do with their Shakespeare characters.’"
Charles and Mary Lamb’s attempt in the 18th century to re-imagine the plays for a larger audience has been (and continues to be) enormously successful and popular with children. In 2007, Tales from Shakespeare was published both as a Penguin Classic and as a Collectable book illustrated by Joelle Joviet.
However, many feel that, by altering the form of Shakespeare’s plays, the complex poetic language will inevitably be lost. The accessibility of Shakespeare might be enhanced, but has an integral part of the experience of reading one of his plays been removed?
Popular adaptations for film and television have often made the decision to transport the plays into a more modern and familiar setting, and yet maintain the original dialogue. Both Baz Luhrmann’s 1997 Oscar-nominated film Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the popular televised adaptation of Hamlet, with David Tennant and Sir Patrick Stewart, saw Shakespeare’s intended language delivered to a contemporary audience. Whereas the teen romcom 10 Things I Hate About You, loosely based on The Taming of the Shrew, went the other way and achieved similar success.
The Hogarth Shakespeare programme is set to launch in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Molly Stern, Senior Vice President (Crown/ Hogarth/ Broadway Books), said: "We all know there is no greater genius in all literature than the Bard. I can’t wait to see what alchemy will result from some of the most exciting writers of our own time applying their distinctive storytelling gifts, expertise, and perspective to reimagining his timeless works. I have no doubt new classics await us all."