Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Shakespearean Timeline

Our Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the central character of Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), is a grandson of James I. Did I realize that before? His grandmother was Danish which gives Rupert occasion to remark that England and Denmark have been friendly since Hamlet's day. Indeed, Shakespeare's Hamlet visited England. But, "'Hamlet?'" (p. 99) asks Holger.

Holger is not from our timeline and neither, if he regards Hamlet as a historical figure, is this Rupert. Valeria, from yet another timeline but accustomed to inter-historical travel, asks questions and deduces that Rupert's timeline is differentiated by the fact that in it Shakespeare was the Great Historian, not the Great Dramatist. Thus:

fairies exist;
magic works;
Caesar had clocks;
technology started earlier;
Cavaliers have steam trains and balloons;
with Oberon's help, they can win the English Civil War.

When I first bought A Midsummer Tempest, it took me a while to get into reading it. It is different and denser but worth the effort.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And one point you have stressed in the past was that A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST was largely written by Poul Anderson in BLANK VERSE. Something I had not hitherto known. Plainly, this use of blank verse was done in homage to William Shakespeare, who who wrote his poems and plays in that verse form.