Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

August Books 9) Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb

This was on my list to read this summer anyway, but it was nice to have got to it after the references in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Carlo Gebler's play about the Lambs. It's really very good - a retelling of Shakespeare's dramas, which are not really easy reading for today's reader (or even the reader of 1807) in digestible prose, aimed at sophisticated teenagers. It's surprising what is censored and what is kept in, given how we tend to imagine nineteenth-century senisibilities - the blinding in King Lear is out, and the detail of Antiochus' incest (and Marina's life in the brothel) in Pericles, but so for some reason is the entire Malvolio subplot in Twelfth Night. However, the immorality laws of Vienna in Measure for Measure are explained, and so is the detail of Macduff's birth in Macbeth (of course an important plot detail but one that could have been worked round with imagination). Knowing what I now do about the authors, I was also struck by the sympathetic treatment of mental illness in the summary of Hamlet, which sets a good example rarely met in later literature. Strongly recommended.

Tags: bookblog 2011, writer: shakespeare, xd

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