Rita's Reviews > Gertrude and Claudius

Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike
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's review
Apr 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: historical-novel
Read in April, 2011

Quite a nice book! It does make me want to go [re]read Hamlet, with this new perspective in mind.

Several of the Goodreads reviews were quite interesting.
Updike does bring the 12c [?] characters to life. Largely showing them as creatures of their time and culture, yet also showing them to be human beings with longings and aspirations like our own.

Who can say how plausible his rendering is of two royals in the 12th century?

On the one hand, one can read texts 200, 300 years old and marvel at how similar their musings/observations are to one's own.
On the other hand, we 'know' that culture so largely shapes how any of us feel about anything. I find it unlikely that a woman in 12c Denmark would have felt she had a right to time 'for herself'.

There were moments in this book when I felt Updike was being ridiculous in attributing such 'modern' thoughts to one or another of the characters. But on the whole, I was able to 'suspend my disbelief' and be ready to take this as background for a re[reading] of the action in Hamlet.

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