Extrapolation

Remaking Shakespeare in Discworld

Bardolatry, Fantasy, and Elvish Glamour

Extrapolation (2013), 54, (1), 1–20.

Abstract

Terry Pratchett's novels Wyrd Sisters (1988) and Lords and Ladies (1992) are adaptations of Shakespearean plays. However, these adaptations do more than simply expand on Pratchett's usual habits of allusion; they also constitute significant revisions of Shakespeare's work and of Shakespeare's canonical status. In Wyrd Sisters Pratchett represents Shakespeare as Hwel, a playwriting dwarf who is inspired by voices from movies and modern plays. In Lords and Ladies, Hwel appears only very briefly. Instead, elvish glamour becomes a metaphor for Bardolatrous readings that freeze Shakespeare into place at the apex of human culture. In Lords and Ladies, as in Wyrd Sisters, Shakespeare's writing offers ways to challenge and undo the damage done by Shakespeare's Bardolatrous image, an image sustained by the magic of glamour. Where literary critics of the last thirty years have used historicist, psychoanalytic, and deconstructive means of contesting Bardolatrous readings, Pratchett uses fantasy, not just to re-contextualize Shakespeare, but also to think about the connections between magic, language, and power, and how these elements come together in writing.

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Clement, Jennifer