Hamlet Is A Big Subject For Dora Benley:
Dora Benley not only likes to write novels about ancient Rome and Greece, she is also fond of Shakespeare and Hamlet. Two of her recent novels have concerned themselves with Hamlet. Just last week she published the YA thriller Ophelia Plot about a girl who was kidnapped while she was putting on Hamlet on the high school stage. Yet to be published is the Edward Ware Thrillers at War novel Murder at Hamlet’s Castle. Dora and Edward are attending a performance of Hamlet when they get a note from Churchill. They have to make their way to Hamlet’s Castle in Denmark where they are supposed to hide the Lawrence maps.
After narrowly escaping the von Wessels, Hitler’s chief spies, in Santa Fe while on leave from Mid East Quarters in Cairo, Edward and Dora don’t know where to go next and where to hide the Lawrence maps, key to world domination. They have just been watching a production of Hamlet when they get a note from Winston Churchill. He says that he and Clemmie got locked in the dungeon of Hamlet’s Castle in Helsingor, Denmark. It was where the Danish army used to be billeted in the Middle Ages. They had to raise Hamlet’s ghost screaming to be let out. It just occurred to Winston it would be a perfect location to hide the much sought after military maps. No one would ever suspect they were there — and if they did they would never be able to escape with their lives let alone the prize that Hitler has been seeking for years.
But after a huge chase scene to get away from states they meet unexpected obstacles in the castle in 1934. The mistress who keeps the place up turns out to be the perfect Nazi spy in cahoots with Hitler and the von Wessels. Once again they need to escape. But this time they meet an unexpected ally in the famous Dane himself, Shakespeare’s most famous character. They uncover Hamlet’s secret notebooks that tell them just what they need to know. Others were cornered in this castle long ago. Hamlet tells them how he escaped in a tale that upsets all previous notions of the man, his character, and his fate.
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Is This Hamlet’s Ship? A Viking Reconstruction:
A couple of years ago there was an exhibition at the British Museum on the Viking culture. I bought the book that went with the exhibit called Vikings: Life and Legend by Gareth Williams, Peter Penz, and Matthias Wemhoff. It sounded interesting. I wish I could have seen it. Too bad they don’t put the exhibitions online the way they do with the permanent collection! But at least I was able to order a copy. Little did I know then that I would be writing a novel about Hamlet, who must have been a Viking or at least a descendant of Vikings in Denmark.
Fortinbras, whether he was the king of Norway or of Sweden right across the straits from Helsingor or Elsinore, obviously had a superior naval force or he would not be attacking and invading. He had probably already killed King Hamlet, Prince Hamlet’s father, in battle. Now Fortinbras was almost certainly after Hamlet, too, and Hamlet knew it. Was he going into battle like his father or was he going to escape somehow? Either way he would obviously have to get out one of his long boats, Viking style. We have pictured here in the blog post a reconstruction of just such a Viking long boat. It is a reconstruction of Skuldelev, which must have been a famous Viking ship. It is from the British Museum exhibition.
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Hamlet v. Fortinbras: The Real Conflict Of Hamlet:
Yes, people think that gloomy, cloudy, rainy weather where you rarely see the sun would be ideal for Hamlet. This certainly fits Shakespeare’s hero, but what if there were an historic Hamlet who was different? It might not be ideal for him. After all, Hamlet’s kingdom, poised on the sea with Sweden only miles away across the straits where Fortinbras ruled, was under siege and attack. (I think it makes more sense than having Fortinbras be from Norway). That might have been the real reason that Hamlet’s father had been killed instead of an incestuous murder plot on the part of his uncle who wanted to marry Hamlet’s mother. And of course the prince has to take over for his father and fight Fortinbras who is the real enemy of the piece instead of just some foreign monarch who wanders on the stage at the end and finds the Danish court all dead. In other words someone should have written the famous tragedy as the conflict between Hamlet and Fortinbras.
Another important point is that Hamlet is obviously a Viking type. Fortinbras would also be a Viking. They would live in a world of warfare by sea. If Shakespeare were true to type, he would have the Danish Prince from Elsinore revving up his long boats. Supposedly a more recent author named John Updike tried his hand at the story. He more recently wrote a novel called Gertrude and Claudius emphasizing the Viking the connection.
These new conflicts and perspectives are all incorporated in the upcoming Cheops Books LLC historical thriller, Murder at Hamlet’s Castle.
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