Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book Note: Macbeth: A Novel

Hartley, A. J., and David Hewson. Macbeth: A Novel. Las Vegas: Thomas & Mercer, 2012.

I got this book as a possibility for a new course called “Modern Shakespearean Fiction” that I've developed, and I feel compelled to review it.

The problem is that it's not terrible, but it's also not very good. It's filled with lots of gruesomely-described battle scenes, fair bits of profanity, and storms breaking in periodically. But it doesn't have much in the way of interesting alterations to or commentary on the plot of Shakespeare's play.

If I had to write a blurb for the novel, it would probably read something like this: “Well, at least Macbeth: A Novel is better than Hamlet: A Novel (for which, q.v.).”

Alternately, I suppose I could use the quote Samuel Johnson didn't actually use (even though the quote is often applied to him) to describe someone else's work:
This work is both good and original. The problem is that the good parts aren't original and the original parts aren't good.
I could also give you a quick glance at a typical section of the novel.  Here, Macbeth and Banquo meet the Wëird Sisters:

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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