William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. Having written more than thirty plays and one hundred sonnets, and coining over four hundred words still used today, Shakespeare’s influence on contemporary literature is undeniably prolific. His works have been performed, read, and loved throughout the world.
Here is an overview of Shakespeare’s life and works from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed, 2020. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=134493993&site=lrc-live
Many Shakespearean stories have been reinterpreted for each new generation, whether as teen films, musicals, science-fiction flicks, Japanese warrior tales, or literary transformations
Listed below are a few works (available in ebook format on Overdrive and Hoopla) that have reimagined Shakespeare stories for the modern era.
The Gap of Time: William Shakespeare’ The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson
We move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. The story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.
Hag-Seed: William Shakespeare’s The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
The novel follows Felix, the Artistic Director of the fictional Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. After his long-awaited production of The Tempest is cancelled, Felix is exiled to the backwoods of southern Ontario, where he is haunted by his daughter, Miranda. With the help of a local prison’s inmates, Felix directs his play . . .with a vengeful twist.
I, Iago by Nicole Galland
Depicts one of literature’s greatest villains, Iago from the Bard’s Othello. The novel examines the unexpected series of tragic circumstances that transform Iago from a loyal friend to a traitor and asks: is evil a simple question of nurture or nature—or something entirely more complicated?
The Serpent of Venice: Fool Series, Book 2 by Christopher Moore
Moore’s mash-up of Othello and The Merchant of Venice with Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a standout sequel to Fool, his twisted retelling of King Lear from 2009.
Shylock Is My Name: William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Retold by Howard Jacobson
The unforgettable character, Shylock is seen as modern-day Simon Strulovitch. Strulovitch has to reconcile Jewish identity with his daughter’s betrayal when she becomes infatuated with an antisemitic footballer, all the while grieving the death of his beloved wife.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle transplants Hamlet to the Sawtelle farm in rural Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have bred dogs, and Edgar is prepared to continue the family tradition. When tragedy strikes, Edgar runs away to live in the woods, until he is forced to face the decision of leaving his family forever or go back home and confront the past.
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
This powerful twentieth-century reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear centers on a wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions.
Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler brings us an inspired, witty and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. Kate Battista is overworked and under-appreciated Her father, Dr. Battista, is on the brink of an academic breakthrough, and his much-needed assistant, Pyotr, receives notice of his imminent deportation. Dr. Battista forms a convoluted plan to keep Pyotr in the country, relying on Kate to follow through.
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian