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From Hamnet to Hamlet: Maggie O’Farrell’s Magical Shakespearean World

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, December 9, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0659
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William Shakespeare reciting his play "Hamlet" to his family

Maggie O’Farrell’s bestselling historical novel Hamnet was one of the most successful books of 2020, with accolades including the National Book Critics Circle Award and selection for a spot on the New York Times Book Review’s list of 10 best books of the year.

A haunting tale of grief that fictionally reconstructs the life and tragic death of William Shakespeare’s young son Hamnet during the plague, the novel compels us to consider such profound issues as how fiction can illuminate some of our most beloved works of literature—in this case, Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet—and how the marriage between history and the novel can lead to great artistic achievements.

Join Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, in an exploration of the fascinating world of Shakespeare through O’Farrell’s novel as he leads participants to consider the possible connections, both explicit and implied, between the author’s imaginative recreation of Hamnet’s life and the actual plays that the historical Shakespeare wrote.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.