Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood


ashley | I’m ashamed that I hadn’t heard about the Hogarth Shakespeare series – a retelling of Shakespeare’s popular works by popular authors – until I stumbled on Margaret Atwood’s contribution, Hag-Seed. Initially I just thought it was a new Atwood book, which is an automatic read for me. But I was even more thrilled to discover that this is part of a series that has been happening for over a year now. I’m going to have to go back and find these other pieces of work. But first, Hag-Seed, the retelling of The Tempest.

I am not all that familiar with The Tempest. I never had to read it in school and didn’t pick it up on my own, so this is really one of my first introductions to it. But this was an interesting way to familiarize myself with the story, I think Atwood has done an incredible job of weaving this vengeful story into a modern theatrical setting. Not to mention it surrounds a production of The Tempest, so I’m learning about the original work while learning about it through an interpretation. Layers upon layers of literature.

I liked that this gave an indepth focus to the play and the inmates rehearsing, but a lot of time was spent, in detail, reciting all of this and I grew a little bored with it after a while. I thought maybe it didn’t have to take up such a large portion of the body, but my lacking Tempest knowledge wonders if maybe that’s all part of it and it represents something bigger. Either way, I interest faded slightly, though it grew back with a vengeance the closer we got to Felix’s vengeance.

I’ve always found Atwood to be an incredibly clever writer. Her ideas and viewpoints and how she approaches certain subjects never seem too out in left field, but they always stop and make the think and reconsider certain things. I really enjoyed reading her reimaging of Shakespeare and allowing her to introduce me to The Tempest. I’d happily go back and read the rest of the Hogarth series, but something tells me I’ve started at the top.


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october 11, 2016