It’s my pleasure to welcome author Anne Fortier as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress on her virtual blog tour.
Anne is the author of JULIET, which was inspired by her mother, who always considered Verona her true home ... until she discovered Siena. JULIET is described as "an ambitious, utterly engaging historical novel on the scale of THE THIRTEENTH TALE and THE BIRTH OF VENUS, which follows a young woman who discovers that her family’s origins reach all the way back to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers."
Anne is sharing her thoughts on ROMEO AND JULIET with us today.
Most people assume that I have always loved Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET, and that this was why I decided to write JULIET. The truth is, I have never really been able to make up my mind about that particular play. While I love HENRY V and JULIUS CAESAR (great fan of bombastic male rhetoric that I am) there was always something about ROMEO AND JULIET that bothered me.
It is not that I have a hard time pushing aside my modern sensibilities, trust me, but even seen through my most medieval glasses I can’t help wondering what it is that Romeo has, does, or says, which is so … well, irresistible. I mean, look at him! There he is, moping around because of Rosaline, presumably pale for lack of food and sleep, his wan cheeks still untouched by the razor blade.
I know. I am making ROMEO AND JULIET sound like a precursor to vampire literature. And that is no coincidence. An expert in human nature, Shakespeare understood the explosive
passions and tragic bent of teenage love, and so do writers of vampire fiction. Forbidden love, exile, death, crypts, and reawakening … it is all there, and either you love it, or you don’t.
I am not saying that these sorts of narratives are only for young readers, not at all. What I am saying is that the reason why some people – and I am one of them – have such a hard time identifying with the characters is that the realm of young love is not one we wish to revisit. Been there, done that, wouldn’t recommend it. And I think this is partly why the reactions to ROMEO AND JULIET are so much stronger than to Shakespeare’s other plays. Hamlet is disturbing, yes, and Othello is downright scary, but they don’t quite bite into our necks the way Romeo does.
Anne, thanks so much for guest blogging here. I like your take on Shakespeare’s writing. It is unique.
For a bit of background on Anne, she grew up in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to work in film. She co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary Fire and Ice: The Winter War of Finland and Russia and holds a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas from Aarhus University in Denmark. For more information on Anne and her work, visit her website at www.julietbook.com.