Shakespeare our contemporary in 2016: Margaret Atwood’s rewriting of The Tempest in Hag-Seed


  • Sofía Muñoz Valdivieso


Margaret Atwood’s novel Hag-Seed (2016) is a retelling of The Tempest that transfers the actions from the magic island of the original play to presentday Canada: the avant-garde artistic director of a Shakespearean Festival is ousted from his job by his more world-savvy deputy, lives in isolation for twelve years and plots his revenge, which will involve a staging of The Tempest at the local prison where he has been teaching for some time as Mr Duke. Hag-Seed is part of a larger project of fictional retellings of the Bard’s plays conceived by Hogarth Press for the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his death, a moment when Shakespeare’s cultural capital seems to be circulating more energetically than ever. The present article analyses Hag-Seed as a neo-Shakespearean novel that is original in the double sense of the term that Atwood’s teacher Northrop Frye so frequently remarked: imaginative, innovative, and inventive but also true to its fountain and origins.


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