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Hag-Seed

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Hogarth Shakespeare (4)

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1,6681927,764 (4.02)256
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)
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English (192)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (195)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
The deposed director of a drama festival takes up a position as a literacy tutor in a local prison, teaching the inmates by having them update and stage Shakespeare's plays while he waits for a chance to get his revenge.

The tension mounts as we wonder whether the action of the novel is going to follow the plot of "The Tempest" as planned or whether it is all going to go horribly wrong. Unputdownable. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jun 16, 2021 |
An excellent retelling of The Tempest, Atwood's update of a fairly dry 500-year-old piece of canon belongs in the same echelon as Ten Things I Hate About You in terms of remaining true to the essence of the story while making it comprehensible without a lot of work. It's lively, modern without being too insistent about it and maybe tends a little bit toward Hamiltonian rap-musical excess but ultimately brings it around. ( )
  kaitwallas | May 21, 2021 |
I received a copy of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Quick note---if you haven’t read or seen The Tempest recently, or if you want a quick refresher, or certainly if you haven’t read or seen the play—skip straight to the end and read the synopsis of the Shakespeare play. It isn’t necessary but I wish I had known about it and done it because the last time I read The Tempest was my Sophomore year in college (1982) so to say I was foggy on the plot would be a huge understatement. All I remembered was there was an island in there somewhere. I was about as prepared as Trump for a presidential debate.

This is the second in the Hogarth series that I have read and Ms. Atwood takes the Shakespeare connection quite seriously. Rather than writing a tale that follows, more or less, a play from the Bard and gives it a modern twist---Hag-Seed dives deep into the play itself, creating a multi-layer literary feast.

A play within a play all contained in a novel about both plays. This one is deep. Starting at the center we have a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which has special importance for the director, as you will see. The Tempest is all about prisons (there are 9 in the play—12 if you add the novel) and it is appropriate that the play itself is to be performed in a prison by prisoners. Interesting considering that the players in Shakespeare’s play are also imprisoned, by geography, by politics, by circumstances of their birth, or by prejudice—as are, in different ways, the characters in this novel. Some are of their own choosing and grief can be as confining as iron bars. Moving outward we watch the creation of the production and the imprint each of the various players has on the play and its director. Our learned director has problems of his own—and not just how to smuggle in props into a prison. He is a very damaged man, alone in a self-imposed isolation and shackled by grief, this play has significance beyond merely the theatrical accomplishment. To him putting on this play is about validation, vindication, and even revenge…

Most if not all of the novel’s characters have counter-parts in Shakespeare’s play and the sheer brilliance of Ms. Atwood’s intricate plotting is astounding. I have found myself noticing new levels days after reading as I kept returning to the story in my mind. Of special delight to anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare are the final few chapters, which take the action of the play beyond where Shakespeare left it off as well as insightful discussion by the prisoners (the players) and novel variations on a 400 year old play, which even today finds new interpretations and relevance.

5 stars. Wow…just wow. ( )
  ChrisMcCaffrey | Apr 6, 2021 |
(8.5) This modern retelling of The Tempest is cleverly rendered.
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. It will 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. Also brewing revenge.
After twelve 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?

For the uninitiated like myself,the author provides a summary of The Tempest at the close of the book and the reader is able to easily recognise the various characters represented in modern times in her book. An enjoyable and at times amusing tale. ( )
  HelenBaker | Mar 6, 2021 |
This book is one of the Hogarth Shakespeare series – a set of modern retellings of some of Shakespeare’s plays, by various acclaimed authors. Hag-Seed is a modern re-telling of The Tempest, and in the capable hands of Margaret Atwood, it is a triumph.

Felix Phillips is artistic director at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, but is usurped by his traitorous assistant Tony, just as Felix is planning a staging of The Tempest. After hiding away and licking his wounds, Felix takes up a job teaching Shakespeare in a prison, and staging plays with the prisoners as the cast, but all the time he is plotting his revenge upon Tony and others who treated him unfairly.

It’s not necessary to know The Tempest to enjoy this book – you can definitely read it as a novel in its own right – but it is interesting to see how the two stories run parallel to each other. I actually think that if you were studying The Tempest, this book might help you understand it (because The Tempest is one of the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult to understand of Shakespeare’s plays in my very humble opinion).

As always with Atwood, the writing flows beautifully and there is dark humour sprinkled throughout. I loved reading about the prisoners and who taking part in the play came to mean so much to them. It’s a quick and fairly undemanding read, and I throughout enjoyed it. ( )
  Ruth72 | Feb 28, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
While “Hag-Seed” is a book that’s great for a quick read, it doesn’t deliver the punches that the premises promise, making it an all-around mediocre book.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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"
Dedication
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Richard Bradshaw,

1944 - 2007

Gwendolyn MacEwen,

1941 - 1987

Zauberer
First words
The house lights dim. The audience quiets.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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?

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Haiku summary
Felix seeks revenge. 
Has jailbirds stage The Tempest.
Entraps his foes! Ha!

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