Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher


"Any good piece of material like Shakespeare ought to be open to reinterpretation." ~Denzel Washington 

Let's face it, if you are reading this blog or this review then chances are you have seen Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope more than once. In fact chances are that you can either quote back or replay in your mind the entire film.  Perhaps you remember not so fondly your youthful days in school where Shakespeare was a chore and even possibly a bore. Did you need Cliff Notes to struggle through iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets?

Author Ian Doescher combines his love for both Star Wars and Shakespeare into this rather unique retelling of Star Wars.  Sure you may be wary of Shakespeare's prose, but fear not. The beauty of this book is that it can serve as both a novel diversion for fans of Star Wars and also maybe, just maybe it can serve as a young reader's first steps into a larger world, the world of Shakespeare.

I won't pretend to be an expert on Shakespeare, sure I have read his plays and sonnets in school, I have watched various film adaptations of his works and generally I think I understand what he means at least half of the time.  This book is accessible in a way that some of the Bard's work is not because we all speak the language of Star Wars.

The book is a rather quick read and follows very closely the film. Some of the dialogue remains in the book without being signifcantly changed, some lines only have a word or two changed and some are completely reformulated leaving the meaning but fitting this story better. You will note some significant divergences in passages featuring asides and monologues by characters.  Frankly these added elements were my favorite part of the book.  What is R2 really thinking and expressing with all those beeps and boops? Doescher clearly had fun translating Star Wars into the style of Shakespeare and it doth show on the page.

At 176 pages the book contains a handful of black and white illustrations and a lot of white space on the page given it's structure.  This makes the book a very quick read.

I can heartily endorse picking up William Shakespeare's Star Wars this summer. I think you shall enjoy it, perhaps you will even act out a few scenes.

For more on William Shakespeare's Star Wars visit Quirk Books and see this interview with author Ian Doescher.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars goes on sale July 2, 2013 with a MSRP of $14.95.


Editor's Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher Quirk. 

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