Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold

Hardcover | October 11, 2016

byMargaret Atwood

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Our greatest literary innovator and beloved novelist has reimagined Shakespeare's final, great play of magic and illusion. Entertaining, gripping, emotionally rich and wise, Hag-Seed is an homage to a master, positioned for the fall celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

   "It's got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge."

     Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.
     Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge.
     After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his motley crew of inmate actors will put on his Tempest, and snare the traitors who destroyed him. But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?
     Margaret Atwood's novel take on Shakespeare's play of enchantment, revenge and second chances leads us on an illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.

– New York Magazine, “15 of the Year’s Most Giftable Books”
– NPR Best of 2016 (Book Club Ideas, Family Matters, and Realistic Fiction) 

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From the Publisher

Our greatest literary innovator and beloved novelist has reimagined Shakespeare's final, great play of magic and illusion. Entertaining, gripping, emotionally rich and wise, Hag-Seed is an homage to a master, positioned for the fall celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.   "It's got a thunderstorm in it. And reven...

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in I...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.28 × 5.28 × 1.05 inPublished:October 11, 2016Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345809262

ISBN - 13:9780345809261

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1. SEASHORE Monday, January 7, 2013. Felix brushes his teeth. Then he brushes his other teeth, the false ones, and slides them into his mouth. Despite the layer of pink adhesive he’s applied, they don’t fit very well; perhaps his mouth is shrinking. He smiles: the illusion of a smile. Pretense, fakery, but who’s to know? Once he would have called his dentist and made an appointment, and the luxurious faux-leather chair would have been his, the concerned face smelling of mint mouthwash, the skilled hands wielding gleaming instruments. Ah yes, I see the problem. No worries, we’ll get that fixed for you. Like taking his car in for a tuneup. He might even have been graced with music on the earphones and a semiknockout pill. But he can’t afford such professional adjustments now. His dental care is low-rent, so he’s at the mercy of his unreliable teeth. Too bad, because that’s all he needs for his upcoming finale: a denture meltdown. Our revelth now have ended. Theeth our actorth . . . Should that happen, his humiliation would be total; at the thought of it even his lungs blush. If the words are not perfect, the pitch exact, the modulation delicately adjusted, the spell fails. People start o shift in their seats, and cough, and go home at intermission. It’s like death. “Mi-my-mo-moo,” he tells the toothpaste-speckled mirror over the kitchen sink. He lowers his eyebrows, juts out his chin. Then he grins: the grin of a cornered chimpanzee, part anger, part threat, part dejection. How he has fallen. How deflated. How reduced. Cobbling together this bare existence, living in a hovel, ignored in a forgotten backwater; whereas Tony, that selfpromoting, posturing little shit, gallivants about with the grandees, and swills champagne, and gobbles caviar and larks’ tongues and suckling pigs, and attends galas, and basks in the adoration of his entourage, his flunkies, his toadies . . . Once the toadies of Felix. It rankles. It festers. It brews vengefulness. If only . . . Enough. Shoulders straight, he orders his gray reflection. Suck it up. He knows without looking that he’s developing a paunch. Maybe he should get a truss. Never mind! Reef in the stomach! There’s work to be done, there are plots to be plotted, there are scams to be scammed, there are villains to be misled! Tip of the tongue, top of the teeth. Testing the tempestuous teapot. She sells seashells by the seashore. There. Not a syllable fluffed. He can still do it. He’ll pull it off, despite all obstacles. Charm the pants off them at first, not that he’d relish the resulting sight. Wow them with wonder, as he says to his actors. Let’s make magic! And let’s shove it down the throat of that devious, twisted bastard, Tony.

Editorial Reviews

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 BAILEY WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTIONNATIONAL BESTSELLER  INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER“This is an absorbing retelling of The Tempest by Shakespeare. . . . It snaps, crackles and pops. If you need a little revenge in your life, trust me. Revenge is a dish best cooked by Margaret Atwood.” —Shelagh Rogers, CBC Books“Margaret Atwood’s reworking of The Tempest . . . is a triumph. . . . With Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood’s version of The Tempest, the [Hogarth Shakespeare] project . . . strikes gold. . . . There won’t be a more glowing tribute to Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year.” —Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times   “[I]ngenious. . . . Atwood exerts a sorceress’s sway over [The Tempest’s] themes of art and treachery, resulting in a slyly inventive, intricately constructed homage with plenty of its own points to make.” —The Mail on Sunday   “Hag-Seed is an absolute triumph. . . . [Atwood] was the ideal author to take on this project.” —The Scotsman   “[S]urpassingly brilliant . . . without question the cleverest ‘neo-Shakespearean novel’ I have read.” —Jonathan Bate, The Times “[A] skilful retelling. . . . [A] beautifully executed, bracingly original . . . novel. . . . [A] very human comedy . . . [with] vivid, surprising multidimensionality. . . . What makes the book thrilling, and hugely pleasurable, is how closely Atwood hews to Shakespeare even as she casts her own potent charms, rap-composition included. . . . It’s partly an intellectual game, this business of adapting his play, and you can feel her turning it over in her hands, considering it and its characters in every possible permutation. . . . Like a masterful director, she has found ways to animate The Tempest afresh . . . she has . . . traced glittering new patterns in its air. Where the drama’s action ends, this suspenseful, satisfying novel keeps going for a bit, with boisterous humor, dark pragmatism, and a vigorously defiant spirit. It more than meets the challenge Atwood clearly set for herself: to escape the play. Part Shakespeare, part Atwood, Hag-Seed is a most delicate monster—and that’s ‘delicate’ in the seventeenth-century sense. It’s delightful.” —The Boston Globe“If The Tempest is Shakespeare’s most wondrous play, Atwood’s Hag-Seed is, in every way, a wonder. . . . [H]ag-Seed is a work of genius. . . . The Bard, I think, would approve. . . . The climax is still a wondrous surprise. The novel, of course, sparkles with Atwood’s characteristic wit and play with language. She deftly weaves the language of Shakespeare into her taut and ever shimmering prose, making the lines sing. . . . For readers familiar with The Tempest, Atwood’s deeply insightful and complex engagement with the play will delight and awe. For Atwood fans new and old, Hag-Seed is sheer delight—wonderful in every sense.” —Mona Awad, author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, The Globe and Mail“How can you take on one of the greatest writers of all time? If you’re Margaret Atwood, quite easily. . . . Atwood tackle[s] The Tempest with style and verve. . . . Funny and dark, Hag-Seed is as clever and full of layers as Shakespeare’s original. The Bard would be proud.” —Stylist “[E]ven someone unfamiliar with Shakespeare will be entertained by this compelling tale of enchantment and second chances, and the rough magic it so delightfully embodies.” —BookPage   “Atwood’s canny remix offers multiple pleasures.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)  “Hag-Seed is a marvelous and thoughtful adaptation. . . . [H]ag-Seed is a treat. It’s a beautifully constructed adaptation, one that stands on its own but is even richer when read against its source—and can, in turn, enrich its source material. It’s playful and thoughtful, and it singlehandedly makes a good argument for the value of adapting Shakespeare.” —Vox “[A] brilliant retelling of The Tempest.” —A.V. Club “[T]his is written with such gusto and mischief. . . . The joy and hilarity of it just sing off the page. It’s a magical eulogy to Shakespeare. . . . It’s riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun. . . . [E]xtraordinary. . . . Felix is a fabulous character. Although he’s utterly idiotic and sometimes despicable, Atwood somehow has us in love with him and rooting for him all the way. He’s a superb caricature of these elitist liberals so reviled in some quarters at the moment. . . . The novel builds to a fantastic climax of dark calamity, with a wonderful footnote. . . . There is so much exuberance and heart and wonder in this novel that the only thing I want to happen next is for Atwood to rewrite the whole of Shakespeare. (No offence, Will.)” —Viv Groskop, The Guardian“Atwood is at her bewitching best in this gripping tale of betrayal and revenge that, incidentally, also displays her deep knowledge of The Tempest. . . . Atwood cunningly brings the reader along without giving away the plot.” —Los Angeles Review of Books “The visionary Atwood’s daring and elaborate twenty-first-century take . . . will make you shiver and squirm with dread, wonder, and delight.” —ELLE   “[T]he narrative as a whole is so inventive, heartfelt and swiftly rendered. . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)   “Hag-Seed is funny and poignant, and offers much to amuse and delight.” —Hot Press   “Even if you’ve never enjoyed Shakespeare, you’ll love this hilarious—and sometimes tragic—retelling of his final play.” —Canadian Living   “Margaret Atwood unleashes her wicked wit in the wonderfully named Hag-Seed, a cunning new novel bound to charm thespians everywhere. . . . Atwood is at her cleverest.” —Buffalo News