The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet
Myrlin A. Hermes
Harper, Jan 26 2010, $13.99
Horatio the scholar is a prideful intellect who enjoys debate at Wittenberg University. When he meets the impish, but darkly troubled student Prince Hamlet of Denmark, he feels passion for another person for the first time in his adult life. The royal is beautiful and Horatio desires him.
Wealthy merchant Baron de Maricourt hires Horatio to stage a play in honor of his wife Adriane, who has the hots for writers and performers. Horatio persuades Hamlet to perform as a young woman. The philosopher begins to author sonnets to his Hamlet, but Adriane wants him to write about her beauty. As the relational triangle forms, some unknown playwright named Will Shakespeare makes an unethical bid to win favor of Adriane as his muse and that of Hamlet too; angering Horatio that a no talented nonentity would dare to attempt to replace him.
Although some might insist a prequel to Hamlet is a tragedy, the aptly titled The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet makes for an entertaining tale. The story line is amusing as the lead triangle and the support cast (especially the cuckold spouse and the upstart bum wannabe bard) struggle with gender and sexual issues. The Hamlet citations are overused and abused, but overall fans will enjoy this tweaking of Shakespeare mindful that Tom Stoppard did likewise with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.