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Shakespeare Retold

This past month I saw my first live performance of a work by William Shakespeare when I attended the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of Hamlet. Prior to seeing the production I never realized how many famous lines come from Hamlet. I knew “Something rotten in the State of Denmark” and “To be or not to be” were from the play but was unaware such famous lines such as “If we are true to ourselves, we cannot be false to anyone,” ”I must be cruel only to be kind,” and “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” – all lines I have heard referenced in songs, books, or movies. It got me to thinking about other ways I have missed the Bard of Avon’s mark in other works, specifically books. When I did a search for modern books based on Shakespeare’s plays, I was surprised at how many titles I had heard of which had the bard’s influence. I also found the Hogarth Shakespeare Project which has famous authors retell Shakespeare’s works. Here are Hogarth and modern books based on the works of Shakespeare available at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

The Gap of Time
By Jeanette Winterson
DB 82753
In this modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s play A Winter’s Tale (DB 35685), King Leontes becomes Leo, the London money manager. His belief that his wife is sleeping with his best friend, Xeno, leads Leo to send his newborn daughter away to America. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2015.

Vinegar Girl
By Anne Tyler
DB 84781
A modern take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (DB 35793). Prickly Kate Battista looks after her father and pretty younger sister, Bunny, while working in a preschool. Her father wants her to marry his lab assistant, Pyotr, to keep him from being deported. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2016.

A Thousand Acres
By Jane Smiley
DB 33926
Larry Cook owns a thousand acres of Iowa farmland that is unmortgaged and some of the richest soil around. At a party given in celebration of the return of Jess Clark, a local man, after an absence of thirteen years, Cook announces that he is retiring and dividing the land among his three daughters. But the gift soon begins to tear the family apart, and secrets, long hidden, begin to surface. Some strong language. Pulitzer Prize. 1991.

By Anne Fortier
DB 71858
Following the instructions in her great-aunt’s will, American Julie Jacobs travels to Siena, Italy, and opens a safe-deposit box containing clues to a treasure. Julie discovers she is related to the families that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet–and they are still feuding. Danger abounds as Julie unravels old mysteries. Some strong language. 2010.

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