Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ten top Shakespearean books

Robert McCrum was born and educated in Cambridge. For nearly 20 years he was editor-in-chief of the publishers Faber & Faber, and then literary editor of the Observer from 1996 to 2008. He is now an associate editor of the Observer. He is the author of Every Third Thought, My Year Off, Wodehouse: A Life (2004), six novels, and the co-author of the international bestseller, The Story of English (1986). His new book is Shakespearean: On Life & Language in Times of Disruption.

At the Guardian, McCrum tagged his top ten Shakespearean books, including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Many US novelists have been bitten by the Shakespeare bug: Toni Morrison (Desdemona), John Updike (Gertrude and Claudius) and Arthur Phillips (The Tragedy of Arthur) from contemporary fiction. More popular, perhaps, is Smiley’s modernisation of King Lear, in which Shakespeare’s plot and characters are relocated to the midwest. Smiley says that her novel grew out of her response to “the ways in which I found the conventional reading of Lear frustrating and wrong”. Part of Shakespeare’s eternal youth is that he always invites us to find new responses to his work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Thousand Acres is among Rachel Mans McKenny's eleven books about midwesterners who aren’t trying to be nice, Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction, Brian Boone's five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works, Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue