Issue Details: First known date: 2002 2002
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Author's abstract: Probably Hamlet is the literary text which has produced the largest number of critical interpretations as well as creative adaptations which themselves have become the object of literary criticism. The following essay concentrates on variations of Hamlet in novels which - different from discussions of Shakespeare's drama in well-known novels like Joyce's Ulysses - choose to situate the plot either in history or in the future. In his Gertrude and Claudius the American author John Updike uses different sources (from Saxo Grammaticus and Belleforest) and is thus able to write a novel situated in historic times. Though he ends his novel where Shakespeare's drama begins, Updike presents an interpretation of the central characters of Shakespeare's play. [In his novel The White Abacus] the Australian author Damien Broderick situates the Hamlet-plot in space, where his main character Telmah is accompanied by a robot named Ratio (i.e. Horatio). Broderick retains the essential elements of Shakespeare's plot, but decides on a different ending. He structures his novel according to Harold Bloom's terminology of literary tropes in 'The Map of Misprision'. While he adapts Shakespeare's conflict of father and son, his structure refers to the conflict of predecessor and successor formulated in Bloom's Anxiety of Influence. His novel thus is an example of the postmodern conviction that we live in a huge library in which we rearrange old texts. Both novels represent appropriations of Shakespeare by fitting the original text into their own parameters.


  • Translation of subtitle: Novel versions of the Hamlet story by John Updike and Damien Broderick.

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Language: German
Last amended 13 Feb 2003