Margaret Atwood returns to King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, to promote her new novel, Hag-Seed, her own telling of The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Published as part of the VINTAGE Hogarth Shakespeare series, Hag-Seed is a story of a play with-in a play, full of treachery, revenge, and prisons – both physical, and of the mind.
Atwood’s piece is testament to the longevity of Shakespeare’s work; but more than anything, Hag-Seed affirms Atwood’s amazing wisdom and skill as an author.
What was most interesting about the evening was to hear about the author’s creative process, as both extremely challenging, but also rewarding. Atwood spoke about her abandoned works; getting chilblains from working in a fisherman’s cottage, in an attempt to finish a novel, throwing out pages
and pages of work, after only keeping one sentence to be used later on. However, it is these abandoned works which lead to the many award-winning novels, essays and poetry – after leaving the fisherman’s cottage, The Handmaid’s Tale was written.
It was exciting to hear about this, with Shakespeare’s work in mind. Atwood has bridged a gap between the modern-day, and Shakespeare’s time. Not only does she show the universality of Shakespeare’s stories and character, Hag-Seed expresses the common ground which is shared by all those in the creative sphere, both in reality, and in fiction.
An hour was not long enough to be in the audience of Atwood’s unstated wisdom and wit. She is a hugely inspiring figure, who held the whole room; making us laugh, and think, all at once. I left the theatre inspired and pushed to finish my own writing projects, and elated at the prospect of diving into Atwood’s latest masterpiece.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is out now, in most bookshops and online. Find out more at margaretatwood.ca