Review | Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

A bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s stormy tale of vengeance, forgiveness and the power of theatre. 4/5 stars.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

The blurb: Hag-Seed is a re-visiting of Shakespeare’s play of magic and illusion, The Tempest, and is the fourth novel in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.

The Tempest is set on a remote island full of strange noises and creatures. Here, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, plots to restore the fortunes of his daughter Miranda by using magic and illusion — starting with a storm that will bring Antonio, his treacherous brother, to him. All Prospero, the great sorcerer, needs to do is watch as the action he has set in train unfolds.

In Margaret Atwood’s ‘novel take’ on Shakespeare’s original, theatre director Felix has been unceremoniously ousted from his role as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival. When he lands a job teaching theatre in a prison, the possibility of revenge presents itself – and his cast find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever…

My take:

As part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project, Atwood is one of several authors invited to reimagine one of Shakespeare’s stories. Hag-Seed is Atwood’s take on one of the Bard’s last plays, The Tempest. If you’d like to know more about the other authors involved in the project and the stories they were asked to tackle (for example, Tracy Chevalier’s take on Othello), you can find out more here.

I studied The Tempest for 2 years at school and so it’s probably the Shakespeare play I know the best. This definitely influenced my enjoyment of Hag-Seed, which I’m not convinced you’d get a lot out of if you know nothing about the original play.

Continue reading…

WWW Wednesday 11th November 2015

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Review | The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A dystopian classic in the vein of Orwell and Huxley, The Handmaid’s Tale is a terrifying study in how quickly oppression can become the norm. 4/5 stars.

the handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwoodthe handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwood

What it’s about: In the near future, a totalitarian Christian regime has overthrown the US government. Reacting to a fertility crisis, the regime seizes any unmarried women or those whose marriages are deemed “invalid”, confiscates their children and forces them to become surrogate mothers for high-ranking officials and their wives. Their only other option is exile and death.

My take:

Every element of the totalitarian regime in The Handmaid’s Tale has been used or is currently in use. The reader may gasp in disbelief at how the women of Gilead are treated, but none of the beliefs, systems or punishments seen in the novel were invented by the author. This is part of what makes the novel so chilling: these things have happened and could happen again. Rights for the disadvantaged are usually hard won, but can easily be revoked, particularly in times of national emergency. This is not a work of science fiction.

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WWW Wednesday 4th November 2015

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WWW Wednesday 28th October 2015

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