Tag Archives: Shakespeare

‘Gone Girl’ Author Gillian Flynn To Update ‘Hamlet’ as Novel

flynnThose of you who loved the bestselling novel Gone Girl and therefore its author, Gillian Flynn, have probably — like me — been wondering what she’s going to do next. The Gone Girl movie comes out in October, and Flynn has recently penned a comic, but there’s now even more news!

According to Entertainment Weekly, Gillian Flynn is working on an updated version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s part of an initiative by Penguin Random House Group to retell Shakespeare’s tales by some of today’s best-known authors. Hamlet will be published for Hogarth Shakespeare.

Flynn said in a press release that of all the plays she could have done, she’s excited to re-tell Hamlet:

Hamlet has long been a fascination of mine: murder, betrayal, revenge, deceit, madness — all my favorite things,” Flynn said in a press release. “Add to that some of Shakespeare’s most intriguing, curious characters — from the titular brooding prince to rueful Ophelia — and what (slightly cheeky) writer wouldn’t be tempted to reimagine it?”

All of these Shakespearean retellings are set to be released in 2016, on the 400th anniversary of the poet’s death.

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Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has very few friends. She’s oddly close with her parents. She takes a few college classes instead of high school, and she loves America’s Next Top Model marathons. Also, she has cancer. Every time she attends another support group session, her mom insists that she make friends, but Hazel isn’t interested. As far as she’s concerned, she’s well on her way to dying anyway.

Everything changes when she meets fellow cancer patient Augustus. He’s sarcastic and smart and well, hot. He’s also in remission. Because Hazel is new to boys and relationships and new friendships, for that matter, she forces him to read her favorite book before accepting a date with him. Augustus reads the book — one with an open ending about a girl who has cancer. Augustus joins Hazel in her frustration with the end of the novel. Soon, a relationship is formed, as is an obsession with the novel.

Augustus uses his “Make a Wish”-style wish on Hazel. Hazel opens Augustus to world of true love, not the forced “love” he shared with his ex-girlfriend. But with two young cancer patients in love, there’s only one ending. This is not a happy story, but this is a powerful one about life, love, and how we perceive it all.

Analysis: When Hazel and Augustus meet, they’re doomed, destined for death. But they’re also lucky — able to live their lives with nothing to lose, however difficult it may seem. The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of young love between two old souls, and to reinforce their deep connection, author John Green relies on literature. 

From the beginning, the two discuss their favorite books — both entirely different genres of literature. Her favorite book is a powerful story reflective of her own, and frightening in its depressingly realistic outlook; his, a graphic novel that depicts strength, overcoming the impossible, and heroism.

But the title of this novel itself, The Fault In Our Stars, is taken from a line of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The nobleman Cassius says to Brutus, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.'” This is how the teenagers suggest it is no one’s fault but their own that they are sick and doomed. But the reference to “stars” recalls yet another Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, by referencing the two as “star-crossed lovers.” Theirs is a love that is not meant to last.

But the journey Hazel and Augustus take together — emotionally, physically, and literally — shows their love goes beyond death. With realistic teenaged narration from Hazel’s point of view and frank awareness of the characters’ own destiny, Green tells a story that will make you cry, but encourage you to live your life the best way you can. After all, you only get one chance.

MVP: Augustus. Through all the pain of illness and all the sadness of death, he finds the beauty of life, and gives Hazel a reason to live hers, even when she doesn’t know that it’s worth it.

Get The Fault in Our Stars in hardcover for just $7.

Or on your Kindle for $5.50.

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CliffsNotes Comes to the Web…In Video Form

In case you ever wanted to see a classic book or Shakespeare played out in cartoon form, you can now. That’s right. CliffsNotes is coming to the web.

According to this article from Entertainment Weekly, Producer Mark Burnett has teamed up with CliffsNotes, AOL, and Coalition Films to create web videos of all the classic novels and plays, mostly read by high school and college students.

Producers say they don’t want to replace the books by any means. But for the students who won’t read the books anyway and already plan to read the CliffsNotes, now they can just watch them instead. Not to mention, they’ll also be funny, which could pull people in more than the original book might. Stephan Lee explains.

Burnett got involved in the project after seeing a need for this sort of content. “There’s no question that there’s no replacement for reading the actual books,” he told EW. “But kids do use CliffsNotes worldwide, no question about it. It amazed me that there was no digital version of these CliffsNotes.” In addition to being quick and informative, the series aims to engage its audience with humor.

Only six Shakespearean plays are currently available, including Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But Burnett hopes to eventually have hundreds of shorts on his site.

I can’t decide if I think this is good for the industry — because more people will likely learn the stories — or bad — because they won’t be reading the originals. What do you guys think?

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