Hag-Seed

Hag-Seed

The Tempest, reimagined.

Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood

Yes, The Tempest. In grand style. Almost over-the-top acting. Almost. First impression.

Creativity. Talent. The two most overused words in the business, Felix thought bitterly. Page 30.

My go to for The Tempest is decades old film called Prospero's Book with Sir John Gielgud narrating the film, almost in its entirety.

Part way through the book, I thought about Hamlet in Act 2. Scene 4, line 416, “The play’s the thing.”

The background on some of the other plays included, good stuff. Interesting to frame a tale within a tale. Back up to Hamlet, again? Revenge tale, too.

Then, were back to Caliban, in The Tempest:

You taught me language, and my profit on’t
Is, I know how to curse.

In the next line, comes the title, Hag-seed.

There’s a parallel structure and rather evocative madness present in the protagonist, the main character, who will, at some point, from the plot thus far, play Prospero in a prison version of The Tempest.

The play itself was — supposedly — Shakespeare’s final play. Sort of came out of retirement and penned a few more, but The Tempest was — basically — his last play with a symbolic break of the magician’s staff, at the end. At the very least, that’s what a few hundred years of scholarship suggests.

Argued elsewhere, does Shakespeare need to be rewritten? I think probably not, but does she do a credible job of taking the extant story, and playing with it. I would think it was successful as a starting point, and recycling some of the material, looping it a new way.

The notion of looping, and for that matter, cadence and rhythm — pacing — is rather effectively used as the novel builds to blistering pace, slowly, demure, at first, then fairly bristles, then the conclusion.

As an adjunct to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it’s a rather fun tale. Was for me, anyway.


Hag-Seed – Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare)

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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