Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Book Note: Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague

O'Farrell, Maggie. Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020.

This book made quite a splash when it came out, so I'm playing catchup here.

It's a family drama about the death of Hamnet Shakespeare. Here's where I insert the obligatory note that the names Hamlet and Hamnet were interchangeable in the period. I notice the cover designer put the "n" in italics in case anyone thought they were about to get the story of the Prince of Demark.

There's also a lot about Shakespeare's wife Agnes. Here's where I insert the obligatory note that the names Agnes and Anne were interchangeable.

I highly recommend the book. It's an interesting, touching, tragic, and profound work of imaginative historical fiction. And spoiler are right around every corner, so I'm not going to give you any more. Just read it for yourself.

As a way of showing you the world of the book, I'd like to give you the very prescient amount of just how the plague made its way to Stratford-upon-Avon. The subtitle is A Novel of the Plague, and you can imagine something very like this happening in the current era.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
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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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