Gertrude and Claudius are the “villains” of Hamlet: he the killer of Hamlet’s father and usurper of the Danish throne, she his lusty consort, who marries Claudius before her late husband’s body is cold. But in this imaginative “prequel” to the play, John Updike makes a case for the royal couple that Shakespeare only hinted at. Gertrude and Claudius are seen afresh against a background of fond intentions and family dysfunction, on a stage darkened by the ominous shadow of a sullen, erratic, disaffected prince. “I hoped to keep the texture light,” Updike said of this novel, “to move from the mists of Scandinavian legend into the daylight atmosphere of the Globe. I sought to narrate the romance that preceded the tragedy.”
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|Title of eBook: Gertrude and Claudius|
|Release Date: 06-15-2001|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Gertrude and Claudius|
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Gertrude and Claudius
The King was irate. His daughter, Gerutha, though but a plump sixteen, had voiced reluctance to marry the nobleman of his choice, Horwen-dil the Jute, a beefy warrior in every way suitable, if Jutes could ever suit in marriage a Zealand maiden born and reared in the royal castle of Elsinore. "To disobey the King is treason," Rorik admonished his child, the roses in whose thin-skinned cheeks flared with defiance and distress. "When the culprit is the realm's only princess," he went on, "the crime becomes incestuous and self-injuring."
"In every way suitable to you," Gerutha said, pursuing her own instincts, shadows chased into the far corners of her mind by the regal glare her father cast. "But I found him unsubtle."
"Unsubtle! He has all the warrior wit a loyal Dane needs! Horwendil slew the tormentor of our coasts, King Koll of Norway, by taking his long sword in two hands, thus baring his own chest; but, before he could be stabbed there, he shattered Koll's shield and cut off the Norseman's foot so the blood poured clean out of him! As he lay turning the sands beneath him into mud, Koll bargained the terms of his funeral, which his young slayer granted graciously."
"I suppose that could pass for nicety," said Gerutha, "in the dark old days, when the deeds of the sagas were being wrought, and men and gods and natural forces were all as one."
Rorik protested, "Horwendil is a thoroughly modern man my battle-mate Gerwindil's worthy son. He has proven a most apt co-governor of Jutland, with his rather less prepossessing brother, Feng. An apt governor solus, I might say, since Feng is forever off in the south, fighting on behalf of th...