Dan Sandman

46: The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

In Books, Fiction on 13/11/2015 at 12:00 pm

The Gap of Time by Jeanette WintersonThe Hogarth Press are publishing a series of Shakespeare rewrites ‘by acclaimed and bestselling novelists of today.’ The list of eight writers is: Margaret Atwood, Tracy Chevalier, Gillian Flynn, Howard Jacobson, Jo Nesbo, Edmund St Aubyn, Anne Tyler, and Jeanette Winterson. Personally, I am looking forward to reading Howard Jacobson doing The Merchant of Venice and Tracy Chevalier’s adaptation of Othello. To start with though, I thought this version of A Winter’s Tale would do nicely.

Now, it pretty much does what you expect it to do, and it’s done very well. Leo is a member of the ‘one percent’ of wealthy people who arguably own the world, which used to be owned by kings with names Leonates. He thinks his pop star wife is having an affair with his game designer best mate (who he had a gay relationship with back at school). This all ends first in tears and then in forgiveness, when the younger members of the cast return from afar to fix the past / bridge the gap of time. Meanwhile, one of Shakespeare’s best characters Autolycus (original name) has humourously been turned into a fast car salesman (they didn’t have automobiles in Shakespeare’s day).

For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Jeanette Winterson has always employed four letter words and sexually explicit antics in her books. The swearwords and language of a sexual nature are intelligently placed: sometimes adding humour to the text; at other times creating layers of emotion underpinning the action. As anyone who has been forced to read Romeo and Juliet at school will have learnt, or anyone has booked a ticket at The Globe theatre will have heard, inventive insults and complicated relationships are abound in Shakespeare. However, for plausible reasons, as far as we know, no overt phallus based behaviour is embedded in the stage directions of the first folio of The Winter’s Tale.

Just a man being killed by a bear.

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