Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Are You Reading?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Are You Reading?

Article excerpt

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

Peter J. Smith, reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Ian McEwan's Nutshell (Jonathan Cape, 2016). "McEwan's mischievous homage to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death is to appropriate the plot of Hamlet and transform it into a cross between a thriller and a rewrite of Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy. In Shakespeare's play, the prince figures the claustrophobia of court as being 'bounded in a nutshell'. In McEwan's novel, the nutshell is (Ger)Trudy's womb whence the fetal narrator overhears her and Claude(ius)'s plot to do away with John, his poet/publisher father, and inherit the substantial but filthy marital house in St John's Wood. McEwan relishes the disjunctions between Hamlet's pensive interiority and the physical immediacy of the fetus' situation, imbibing his mother's 'joyous, blushful Pinot Noir, or a gooseberried Sauvignon'. He also agilely dips into his source: at one point the fetus contemplates suicide in utero - an ingenious reworking of 'to be or not to be'."

Maria Delgado, professor and director of research, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading Lluís Pasqual's De la mano de Federico (Arpa, 2016). "Lluís Pasqual is arguably the most important living director of Federico García Lorca's work. He directed premieres of two incomplete Surrealist plays in the 1980s that revolutionised understanding of Lorca's theatre; refashioned two of his plays as flamenco with Antonio Canales and then Sara Baras; and, more recently, presented an urgently political reading of The House of Bernarda Alba with Núria Espert, Spain's greatest living stage actress, in the title role. …

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