In June of 2013, Random House imprint Hogarth Press announced that they are commissioning a slate of authors to novelize the complete works of Shakespeare for a modern audience. The launch of these books in 2016 will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
The roster of illustrious authors who have signed on to modernize Shakespeare’s plays includes Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Jeannette Winterson (The Winter’s Tale), Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), and Jo Nesbo (Macbeth).
With the 400th anniversary only two years away, and 32 plays left unclaimed, Hogarth is running out of time to get these books written, so we thought we’d help them out with suggestions of author and play pairings we’d like to see. We had trouble limiting our imaginations to living authors only though!
J.R.R. Tolkein + Hamlet: Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest work, is a four hour play about a prince who decides in Act 1 to avenge his father’s death, and after five acts and 3834 lines of flip-flopping, he eventually gets around to it. Who better to take on the dithering Dane than the man who wrote the three-part story of a skittish hobbit who takes 1300 pages to accomplish one task?
Stephenie Meyer + Romeo and Juliet: Despite its reputation as the greatest love story ever told, let’s face it, once Mercutio dies, Romeo and Juliet is a total snooze-fest. In order to appeal to today’s main audience for epic love stories (i.e. tweens), R&J could use an injection of vampire vs. werewolf warfare to pump up the drama. “O Romeo, Romeo, a werewolf art thou, Romeo?”
George R.R. Martin + Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare, who was never one to shy away from bloodshed and violence, has a literary soul mate in the bloodthirsty author of the Game of Thrones series. I get chills just imagining what gruesome twists Martin would add to a story already brimming with beheadings, tongue removals, and characters getting baked into pies.
Dr. Seuss + Timon of Athens: Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens is essentially the plot of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas told in reverse. In this lesser known play, Timon, a wealthy Athenian, blithely bestows his riches on his flaky artist friends, and anyone else who asks. But when his money runs out and his friends abandon him, he renounces human society and runs off to the forest to live in a cave. He spends the rest of his days hating everyone and spouting abuse at anyone who dares to visit.
Jasper Fforde + The Tempest: I know Hogarth already has an author for The Tempest, but we couldn’t resist fantasizing about what kinds of transgressions Fforde’s literary detective Thursday Next would call out the characters on Prospero’s island for.