The Hogarth Press got in touch with eight acclaimed writers to put a modern spin on Shakespeare Plays of their choosing.
Jeanette Winterson chose to write a cover for A Winter's Tale a play by Shakespeare that resonates with her particularly as it is about a foundling - Perdita - just as she was. She has long studied the play and unraveled it like only a true lover of literature can.
We get a brief description of the original play by Shakespeare and then starts Winterson's version. Leo is a magnate married to MiMi, a jazz singer. He is at the moment in throes of jealousy, just as MiMi is heavily pregnant. He is sure that his best friend and sometime lover, Xeno, is the father of the unborn child.
His jealousy sets things in motion, and a baby winds up up in New York, in a baby hatch outside a hospital with a briefcase full of money and diamonds. The baby and the money are appropriated by Shep who brings up the girl, Perdita, like his own alongside his grown son, Clo. She grows up loved and cossetted like a darling child while Leo, having lost his wife and older child, is a shell of his former self.
Leo's best friend and one time lover, Xeno is also in New York. Xeno's son has grown up now and just like Shakespeare decreed, he gets to know Perdita.
Winterson analyses Shakespeare and gauges his depth brilliantly. She transfers the same brilliance to her story and gives us a tale as delightful and merry and full of happy coincidences as the Bard's.
She looks at the two things that set apart the play. One: that it highlights the gap of time. The play halts just when the annihilation of happiness of King Leontes at his own hands is complete. There is a jump in time and we see Perdita grown up at sixteen. Two: the theme of forgiveness. At the essence of the play, Perdita and the good people in the play, Paulina, Shepherd and Clown (the people who adopt Perdita), forgive the wrongdoers.
She brings us a near perfect modernization of Shakespeare. As a rare treat, we get a treatise on the play and are given a very good analysis of it. It is a MUST read for lovers of Shakespeare.