Author(s): JOHN UPDIKE
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."
"Shakespeare's plays have had many offshoots. "Gertrude and Claudius", though, stands in a class of its own: a superlative homage from one imaginative veteran to another.""--The Sunday Times "(London)
"[A] pearl of a book . . . a game for real stakes . . . Updike has used Shakespeare to write a free-standing, pleasurable, and wonderfully dexterous novel about three figures in complex interplay.""--The New York Times Book Review"
"A living, powerfully physical work . . . Updike is a superbly skillful writer.""--The Wall Street Journal"