'Tell my story': Hamlet the Dane

Graham Holderness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the early twentieth century the novel was transformed by Modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, who ruptured the dominant traditions of nineteenth-century fiction, breaking up the sequential cause-and-effect of traditional narrative, disrupting the unity of plot and coherence of character; using ironic and ambiguous juxtapositions to challenge literary meaning; and foregrounding inward consciousness over rational, objective discourse. Social reality became distorted through the lens of the individual character’s ‘stream-of-consciousness’; language became a dense, complex substance embodying rather than reflecting reality and meaning; and the novel itself was reconceived as a relatively autonomous artefact, and a space of aesthetic experiment.
In this environment novelists were able to incorporate Shakespeare into the novel in new, exciting and influential ways. The Shakespearean experiments of Woolf and Joyce made it possible for later modernist writers to draw Shakespeare ever deeper and closer into the structure, texture and fabric of the novel. In our own twenty-first century the Shakespearean novel is undergoing a renaissance. The long prose narrative has been energised by interfaces with different media, especially TV, film and the Internet. New methods of publishing and consuming literature have transformed the nature of readership into an interactive participation. The postmodern collapsing of generic restrictions has enabled Shakespeare to migrate much more comprehensively across previously sealed boundaries, into popular genres such as crime fiction, paranormal romance, dystopian fable and supernatural fantasy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShakespeare and Millenial Fiction
EditorsAndrew Hartley
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-1-107-17172-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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