Local writer and columnist for the Terrace Standard Al Lehmann has come out with his first novel, an ambitious attempt to render the Shakespeare play Hamlet in a form accessible to people who have difficulty penetrating the archaic language of the original composed some 400 years ago.
Hamlet, The Novel is told for a large part in the voice of Horatio Stenmark, one of the characters in the play, who is writing down his version of the story.
It is the saga of a prince who is tasked with murdering his uncle to avenge his father’s death and thus assume his rightful place as King of Denmark.
“If stories have violent ends, why should they not have vicious beginnings? And this beginning certainly was vicious,” the tale begins.
And yet Horatio himself admits off the bat that his version could be biased, despite his best attempts to render the story accurately.
“It might be suspected that the story I tell is only partly true,” he writes.
Other parts of the book are told in a more objective form: third person narrative.
And while we may wonder about how true this story is to the original play Hamlet, we must put our faith in the author, Al Lehmann, who was an English teacher for many years and whom one expects would know the play inside and out.
The original play apparently takes four hours to perform and modern renditions are usually of edited versions.
At 368 pages, Lehmann works on the large scale that pays tribute to the original length of the play.
And, more to the point, the book seems to beg us to return to Shakespeare, to corroborate the two versions separated vastly by time and genre.
Lehmann is launching Hamlet at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Ed Curell Reading Room at the Terrace Public Library .