A Divinity scholar at Wittenberg University, Horatio prides himself on his ability to argue both sides of any intellectual debate but is himself a skeptic, never fully believing in any philosophy. That is, until he meets the outrageous, provocative, and flamboyantly beautiful Prince of Denmark, who teaches him more about both Earth and Heaven than any of his books.Read more...
A Divinity scholar at Wittenberg University, Horatio prides himself on his ability to argue both sides of any intellectual debate but is himself a skeptic, never fully believing in any philosophy. That is, until he meets the outrageous, provocative, and flamboyantly beautiful Prince of Denmark, who teaches him more about both Earth and Heaven than any of his books. But Hamlet is also irrationally haunted by intimations of a tragic destiny he believes is preordained.
When a freelance translation job turns into a full-scale theatrical production, Horatio arranges for the theater-loving prince to act in the play-disguised as the heroine This attracts the attention of Horatio′s patroness, the dark and manipulative Lady Adriana. A voracious and astute reader of both books and people, she performs her own seductions to test whether the "platonic true-love" described in his poems is truly so platonic. But when a mysterious rival poet calling himself "Will Shake-speare" begins to court both Prince Hamlet and his Dark Lady, Horatio is forced to choose between his skepticism and his love.
Laced with quotes, references, and in-jokes, cross-dressing, bed-tricks, mistaken identity, and a bisexual love-triangle inspired by Shakespeare′s own sonnets, this novel upends everything you thought you knew about Hamlet. Witty, insightful, playful, and truly wise about the greatest works of the Bard, THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER, AND THE POET is a delectable treat for people that have loved books like Stephen Greenblatt′s WILL IN THE WORLD and John Updike′s GERTRUDE AND CLAUDIUS.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 36.
- Review Date: 2009-12-07
- Reviewer: Staff
It doesn't get any more meta than this odd prequel, which recounts Hamlet's early years as a student at Wittenberg University. After Horatio, who narrates and quickly becomes obsessed with the beautiful Hamlet, is asked to translate and stage a play by the wealthy merchant Baron de Maricourt and his wife, Lady Adriane (who shows a marked weakness for writers), Horatio casts Hamlet in a major role—that of a young woman—as a way of getting to spend time in his company. Soon, Horatio undertakes a series of sonnets to immortalize Hamlet, but when Adriane gets wind of Horatio's new project, she begins to interfere. Further complications arise with the arrival of a playwright named Will Shake-spear who threatens to usurp Horatio's position with Lady Adriane and Hamlet. Filled with out-of-context quotes from Hamlet, confusions in sexual identity more commonly found in Shakespeare's comedies, and cameo appearances by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the novel too self-consciously repurposes elements from Shakespeare's tragedy, rendering this a colorful if incidental prologue to the tragic events at Elsinore Castle. (Feb.)