Ian McEwan Celebrates Shakespeare

Hamlet in a Nutshell

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of León, Spain ebanf@unileon.es
  • 2 University of Salamanca, Spain elisaglezg@usal.es
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Abstract

The aim of this article is to analyse Ian McEwan's Nutshell, published in September 2016, as a modern rewriting of Hamlet in relation to the usual issues and themes previously tackled by the author throughout his narrative. The novel focuses on the love triangle involving Claude [Claudius], Trudy [Gertrude] and John Cairncross [King Hamlet] and narrates how the lovers plot the murder of the husband from the unusual perspective of a proto-Hamlet in the womb. Despite the fact that he is rewriting a Shakespearean work, the author remains faithful to his style and favourite topics, displaying the function of the family as destructive rather than constructive, conditioning the later development of the children and rendering them devoid of the affection needed. Similarly, Nutshell also depicts his recurrent configuration of mothers as authoritative and destructive, especially for the natural growth of their offspring.

Contributor Notes

Elena Bandín lectures in English Literature and Gender Studies at the University of León, Spain. She has done extensive research on the reception of Shakespeare's works in Spain with a particular interest in translation, performance and censorship. She is a member of the international research project ‘Shakespeare's Works in European Culture’ coordinated by the University of Murcia and led by Dr Juan F. Cerdá and Dr Keith Gregor. She has published articles in national and international journals such as SEDERI Yearbook and Cognitive Linguistics, and chapters in volumes such as Shakespeare and Tyranny: Regimes of Reading in Europe and Beyond (Cambridge Scholars, 2014) and Romeo and Juliet in European Culture (John Benjamins, 2017). She is currently co-editing the volume Othello in European Culture (John Benjamins). Email: ebanf@unileon.es; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9997-1469.

Elisa González graduated in English Studies in 2017 and in Spanish Linguistics and Literature in 2018 from the University of León. She later completed her MA in Translation and Intercultural Mediation at the University of Salamanca in 2019. Email: elisaglezg@usal.es

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