Ophelia, The Book

http://turnpaige.com/2008/04/01/ophelia-by-lisa-klein/ Just stumbled across this mini-review of a young adult novel that appears to be a retelling of Hamlet, from Ophelia’s point of view.  Not really my cup of tea, but I thought I’d put it out there in case it looks interesting to folks.  I don’t know if the reviewer keeps calling Ophelia Hamlet’s wife because she’s simply mistaken about the plot, or if the author of the book has gone ahead and taken that liberty. The questions at the end, by the way, are complete spoilers.  Just in case you’re thinking about getting it. Then again, who knows, the spoiled bits might make it look intriguing enough to get anyway. Back in college, in my playwrighting days, I started a project of a similar nature.  I did a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead take on Hamlet, where the whole play is done from Ophelia’s perspective.  The gimmick being that when she’s “offstage” she’s speaking in modern English, but as a character from the play comes on stage she falls back into character to deliver her lines.  I did not muck with the story – my reverence for the text dates back at least that far 🙂 – but I did make the leap that Ophelia was in on Hamlet’s feigned madness and just playing along…until she realizes that he has actually gone mad, or at least, she can’t tell the difference. Never finished it.

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8 thoughts on “Ophelia, The Book

  1. You know – there is an irony here: Shakespeare had a nasty habit of taking other people’s stories and doing a make-over to fit his time and audience!

    (And the word verification is caszy – which fits perfectly!)

  2. I had the same idea back in high school; the play would hinge on the scene where Ophelia tells Polonious about Hamlet coming into her chamber; there’d be some sort of shadowed enactment of what really happened as Hamlet told her to play along. And then her insanity would be caused by the guilt of betraying her father…yeah…I don’t know how I feel about stuff like this. Artfuckery.

    and is Shake’s habit really Nasty?

    Mature poets don’t borrow; they steal.

  3. Hi A&L,

    If by "really" you mean "in the play that Shakespeare wrote", then:

    a) she does die (I hope so, they had her funeral!)

    b) she "falls" into the river (and it is unclear whether it was an accident or deliberate). It is Gertrude who drinks the poison, not Ophelia.

    c) No, no mention of having a child. It's unclear in the script whether the two of them did what's necessary to make that happen, anyway (though personally I'm of the belief that they did). They were also not married in the Shakespeare story. The very fact that Hamlet has given Ophelia gifts of affection, as a matter of fact, is enough to send both her brother Laertes and father Polonius into lengthy tirades about how she should stay away from the boy.

  4. I have read the book, Ophelia. I personly think it was a great book. But… when I looked up Ophelia all of my searches came up that Ophelia killled herself with poison and then threw herself in the river. This book says not. So…did she actually go to St.Emillion or did she really die? The main question is, “Did she really birth a son that she named hamlet after her dead husband?” I am CLUELESS so please tell me if you have some knowlege of this.

  5. So, I know that I am coming upon this blog entry a couple of years late, but I do want to say that I've read Ophelia twice now, and I really like it. I hope in the interim you have taken the time to read it as well because you seem to think that the other reviewer may not have read the book correctly when you question whether or not Ophelia and Hamlet marry in the YA book. I would hope that a reviewer would not post something if he or she has not read the book! I enjoyed basically reading Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view. Yes, the author, Lisa Klein, took some liberties with the plot, but who's to say Shakespeare would not have agreed with her!

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