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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood


by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Hogarth Shakespeare (4)

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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
As always, love Margaret Atwood's work. My only gripe was that I was waiting for some kind on twist or surprise in the back third of the novel, and there just wasn't. Everything unfolds according to Felix's plan. It lacked an element of excitement. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Received via Random House and NetGalley in exchange for an completely unbiased review.
Also posted on Silk & Serif

I want to start this review by saying that I love Margaret Atwood's work. Although usually subversive and political in nature, her novels are always beautifully written with strong characters and interesting worlds. I haven't read all of her novels yet, a lofty goal of mine, but I am incredibly impressed by the versatility of Atwood's writing.

Unfortunately, Hag Seed, although beautiful and well written, was a flop for me. The story felt forced and the tale took awhile to come to a close - which could entirely be because it is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and did not allow for a whole lot of wiggle room for Atwood to work. I don't think this was one of Atwood's best work and will most definitely not top my list of favourite novels of all time, but it was a lovely re-telling of a well studied work. In true Atwood style we see political opinion in this novel (prisons and rehabilitation being one of the minor themes), but the majority of the novel follows our thwarted and revenge thirsty Felix.

Hag Seed: A tale of deceit, revenge, salvation and loss. A wonderfully executed rendition of Shakespeare's The Tempest that perhaps took a little too long to reach it's crescendo, but nevertheless an interesting read.

Felix, having lost his daughter and his beloved job as artistic theatre director of Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, finds himself teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution by using "modernized" Shakespeare reenactments to help rehabilitate prisoners. Eventually, Felix's old nemesis visits the theatre and chaos reigns in Felix's attempt to seek revenge. I often felt incredibly sorry for Felix because life really can be that cruel - and even understood his desire for revenge - but I did not condone his methods. Regardless, the tale of the Tempest was amusing, uplifting and creatively re-invented to make a story that, although not Atwood's best, is still wholesomely Atwood.

All-in-all, Hag Seed was worth a read if only to allow me to have interesting conversations with my otherwise literary involved friends. I am not certain I took anything deeply thought provoking from this novel, but it is definitely worth the read for those whole are interested in the more serious literary genre with a splash of humour. The various verses the inmates create to re-work Shakespeare into a more modern language were rather amusing, but could also upset some of the more die hard Shakespeare lovers.

Hag Seed was OK, and that's also okay because at least I have a great book to discuss with my friends who read serious literature because Hag Seed is cognitively accessible to all.

This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Shakespeare re-tellings and novels about revenge. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy serious literary treasures with undercurrents of the political. I also suggest this to those who enjoy Atwood's previous work since there are still elements of "Atwoodization" throughout this modern re-telling - the only downside is it appears the author struggled a bit to fit her personality into such a small, previously structured novel.
  trigstarom | Jan 1, 2019 |
A play within a play, within a play, within... who know? An excellent story, and every bit as accessible to readers unfamiliar with The Tempest (or even Shakespeare himself) as those who know the lines by heart. ( )
  Ubiquitine | Nov 24, 2018 |
I usually love Atwood's work, but didn't enjoy this one so much. I don't know if it was the fact that she was constrained by the plot of the original play (The Tempest), but it seemed to lack some of her usual creativity. I also thought that all of the characters, except for maybe the protagonist (Prospero), were very one-dimensional. I struggled to finish this one - was a little bored at times. Gets points for strong writing, of course. ( )
1 vote redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
Margaret Atwood wrote a Tempest fanfiction.

I greatly enjoyed the staging of The Tempest within a prison, the in-depth discussion and analysis from the prisoner's point of view, the home-made sets, how Felix wins the rough "actors" over to appreciate this play. The swearing in Sheakespearian was brilliant, like the writing itself, as always.

I did not like, however, the forcing of The Tempest's story onto the overall story. I found The Tempest's plot convoluted to begin with, and when Atwood is trying to fit every single character into the story, re-enacting the same scenes, in the same order, it just did not feel right. I especially hated that Tony and Sebert came to the same discussion as Antonio and Sebastian, because that made absolutely no sense to me in the play to begin with.

Overall, I just felt "I love you Marg, you are brilliant. But you were fangirling too hard with this one." ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
So viel ist gewiss, dass jemand, der Rache brütet,
seine eigenen Wunden frisch erhält, die sonst heilen und verharschen würden.

Sir Francis Bacon, "Über die Rache"
Obwohl es auf der Bühne nette Menschen gibt, sind etliche darunter, die einem die Haare zu Berge stehen lassen würden.

Charles Dickens
Other flowering isles must be
In the sea of Life and Agony :
Other spirits float and flee
Over the gulf ...

Percy Bysse Shelly, "Lines Written Among the Eugenean Hills"
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Richard Bradshaw,

1944 - 2007

Gwendolyn MacEwen,

1941 - 1987

First words
The house lights dim. The audience quiets.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Felix seeks revenge. 
Has jailbirds stage The Tempest.
Entraps his foes! Ha!

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804141290, Hardcover)

Bestselling and multiple award-winning author Margaret Atwood retells The Tempest, one of Shakespeare's most stirring and unforgettable plays.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 03 Mar 2016 19:41:10 -0500)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Felix is at the top of his game as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge. After 12 years revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It's magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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