Hogarth Fiction subdivision of Random House is going to do publish novelization of famous Shakespeare’s plays, and has already enlisted a number of popular modern authors to do this job.
However, it isn’t going to happen for quite some time – the publisher’s intention is to publish the books internationally in 2016, timing this event to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing.
The authors hired for this extraordinary task are Howard Jacobson, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler, each is supposed to write one novel (at least, at the time being). The first two to be published will be Taming of the Shrew by Anne Tyler and The Winter’s Tale by Jeanette Winterson.
It hardly comes as news to the authors assigned to the task that they are doing something extremely unusual if not audacious, but they have a saving grace of understanding that they are hardly capable of adding anything to Shakespeare. According to Jeanette Winterson, she perceives this work as a possibility to form another kind of relationship with the text she considered to be a kind of talisman for her for many years. In the course of her literary career she worked with The Winter’s Tale under many disguises and sees it as an interesting opportunity to work with it directly, for once.
The next two novelizations to come are The Tempest by Margaret Atwood and Merchant of Venice by Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson. It seems that the authors have been chosen in accordance with their personal attitudes towards different Shakespeare’s works – Atwood, for example, states that the play she is going to work on has always been a favorite of hers, and it would be interesting to show her own interpretation of this work.
However, by this moment the novelizations are limited to romances and comedies. Nevertheless, Clara Farmer, the publishing director of Hogarth Shakespeare, says that this limitation will probably not stick – they are planning to novelize all the canonic Shakespeare’s work, but for the time being they don’t know anybody who would be up to the task of dealing with the tragedies.
The authors chosen for this peculiar task seem to be fascinated by the idea – after all, it doesn’t simply mean working in co-authorship with one of the most famous writers of all time, but also the challenge of expressing the four hundred year old notions in a modern world.