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Hamnet (2020)

di Maggie O'Farrell

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
1,7891267,297 (4.25)303
"A thrilling departure: a short, piercing, deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play. England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman--a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague. A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent departure from one of our most gifted novelists"--… (altro)
Aggiunto di recente daPhilippaSturt, srdr, IngNorris, biblioteca privata, RaymondFrank, RullsenbergLisa, Cruelgirl, tydx, memasmb, jillrhudy
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» Vedi le 303 citazioni

Inglese (117)  Spagnolo (3)  Olandese (2)  Catalano (1)  Tutte le lingue (123)
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This is a well-written enjoyable book about the people almost forgotten by history. O'Farrell has taken the sketchy details available about Agnes and Hamnet and woven an atmospheric and emotional book about them. However the mistake I made was going straight from reading this to my re-read of Wolf Hall, which is historical fiction just on another level. I also felt the characters weren't always consistent or historically convincing - death is a common place and everyday thing, yet only the death of Hamnet seems to bother anyone deeply. We are invited to be sympathetic with Agnes in her deep and appalling grief, but not with other mothers who have lost multiple children and grieve less. This sounds more critical than it should, I did really like this book. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Oct 16, 2021 |
Maggie O’Farrell is a poetic and empathetic writer, and yet there are a few things that hold me back from fully appreciating this book.
First the good stuff. O’Farrell writes such rich, descriptive prose that, as a reader, I could sense the scene and the characters in a very concrete way. When she describes the herbs or the birds or the room, in a few words she brings an image to mind that places the story in a setting that simply seems very real. I kept thinking that she must have been there to catch those details. Although in the credits at the end of the book she lists a lot of printed references and she describes visiting the sites in Stratford, she writes with such detail that it’s hard to imagine that she’s not writing from a lot of close personal experience.
Even with that skill, though, I sometimes felt that a few words from an editor would have helped. When she makes metaphors, they sometimes seem overdrawn, like “the dark maw of the ground, ripped open to accept the white wrapped body in the grave.” Does this have an emotional resonance for readers? Perhaps, but graves in my mind are very neatly dug and describing them as ripped open seems to stretch reality for the sake of an artistic expression. It’s jarring and distracting, not illuminating. Several times through the book, I found myself thinking that the artful language is getting in the way of the response that I imagine O’Farrell wanted.
O’Farrell conveys a deep sense of the emotions of her central character. Agnes’ feelings about her family, her husband, and her situation are complex, but clear and real. Her relationship with her taciturn brother, for example, is interesting in how well they understand each other, even with few words spoken. At the centre of the story is her grief at the death of her son, and I can understand the depth of her loss and how it overpowers her. It may seem extreme, but we already know from her relationship with her stepmother and her birth stories that Agnes is a person of unusual intensity and connectedness. An extreme reaction seems right in character.
O’Farrell gives a similar emotional sense to several other characters. Hamnet’s devotion to his twin sister and his sacrifice to save her, and later Judith’s searching for the spirit of the dead Hamnet seem a natural part of their character. Their father is one of the least known characters, initially a young man of little spirit, and later a business man with a close feeling for his family. Overall, however, we get little sense of his interior thinking. This is an interesting choice, to deliberately take the attention away from the most famous historical character and focus on the unknown background players.
But this empathic acuity leads to another issue for me. In many respects, these characters seem to be modern people in a 17th century society. The long picture of Agnes’ grief could be reset with equal impact in a contemporary family. While Agnes is an expert herbalist, she thinks and reacts in the way a 21st century person would, essentially individualized and material. She has no real community connections and no relationship to the Christian god. Of course, this involves broad generalizations, but could a post-medieval woman go through all that Agnes experiences without reference to community or church (beyond a perfunctory funeral and burial)? Ahistorical characterization often seems to be a problem in writing historical novels, although I think Hillary Mantel avoids it in her books about Thomas Cromwell. She is deliberately exploring the development of the modern mind in the same period, and for me she is more successful in creating a historical character than O’Farrell is. This leads me to ask, why put a modern character in a 400-year-old setting and write as if the character’s psyche is not part of that setting?
Although O’Farrell’s occasional over-writing and her ahistorical characters are flaws to me, there are so many things in her writing that I really like that I’d be interested to read more of her writing to see how she handles other circumstances. ( )
  rab1953 | Oct 15, 2021 |
Hamnet has the most beautifully strung together sentences. Maggie O'Farrell is a wonderful wordsmith, weaving together scenes and characters in a way that kept me turning the pages. The scenes where the family is traveling to the church to bury their child and when Agnes sees Hamlet on stage are ones that will never leave my mind. My heart broke for different reasons (some sadness, some happiness).

The ending is my favorite part of the book, for sure. I don't want to give it away, but if you struggled a bit, like me, to get to the end of this tale, just keep reading. The last four pages are amazing.

I recommend Hamnet to fans of historical fiction, William Shakespeare, and family dramas. ( )
  mrstreme | Oct 13, 2021 |
Hamnet is a 2020 novel by Maggie O'Farrell. It is a fictional account of Shakespeare's son, Hamnet, who died at age 11 in 1596. It won the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, the Fiction Prize at the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 2021 Dalkey Literary Awards 'novel of the year'.
  MUHAMMADHARIS | Oct 13, 2021 |
A truly remarkable novel, so finely wrought, conjuring up a powerful sense of the past, creating palpably real characters. A must for Shakespeare fans, but even if you don't know your Stratford-upon-Avon lore, there's a lot to be found here. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 5, 2021 |
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Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
O'Farrell, Maggieautore primariotutte le edizioniconfermato
Vries, Willemijn deNarratoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone. 

Hamlet, Act IV, scene v
Hamnet and Hamlet are in fact the same name, entirely interchangeable in Stratford records in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

—Steven Greenblatt, "The Death of Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet," New York Review of Books (October 21, 2004)
I am dead:
Thou livest;
. . . draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story

      —Hamlet, Act V, scene ii
Dedica
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To Will
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A boy is coming down a flight of stairs.
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Agnes believes her position, as new daughter-in-law, to be ambiguous, somewhere between apprentice and hen.
The branches of the forest are so dense you cannot feel the rain.
There will be no going back. No undoing of what was laid out for them. The boy has gone and the husband will leave and she will stay and the pigs will need to be fed every day and time runs only one way.
What is the word, Judith asks her mother, for someone who was a twin but is no longer a twin?
... If you were a wife , Judith continues, and your husband dies, then you are a widow. And if its parents die, a child becomes an orphan. But what is the word for what I am? ... Maybe there isn't one, she suggests.
Maybe not, says her mother.
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"A thrilling departure: a short, piercing, deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play. England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman--a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague. A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent departure from one of our most gifted novelists"--

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