Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes

To be straight or gay? That is the question in Hermes' classic deconstruction of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

There may be something rotten in the State of Denmark, but Hermes' writing in The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet is fresh like a bright summer's day. 

Packed between its covers are beautiful words that inspire love and passion. When the rough winds shake those buds of May, the love between Hamlet and Horatio lives eternally.

Horatio is, "all men and everyman" (p87) compared to Hamlet who is, "...greater and nobler and fairer than all the subjects immortalized by the great ancient poets." (p221). Their love transcends social status, beauty and age.

Entering into the mix is the not so beautiful Lady Adriane. A thorn in the sides of both men she encourages Horatio to write sonnets of his love for Hamlet. Both men are manipulated into her bed in a web of deception that includes a surprising entrance by rival poet "Shake-spear."

One of my favorite moments is when Hamlet, dressed as a woman in Horatio's play, kisses the male lead on stage. Horatio sees his deepest desires played out. 
"I would court him (Hamlet) as a lover, marry him if I could, if such a thing were not unspeakable. I had shown my love before the world, and all the world had fallen in love." (p.144)
In the end you'll have to decide if Hamlet was mad or gay. It's a joyous ride and one I suggest you take regardless of your sexual orientation.

Rob's Grade: A B C D

Don't forget to enter my contest for a free copy of The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet. Deadline is February 14 at 6:00 p.m., Hawaiian time.

(Note: I purchased this book from Barnes and Noble on-line. It's my February selection for the GLBT 2010 Reading Challenge).

The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes. Copyright 2010. Harper Perennial. 363 pages. ISBN 9780061805196.


  1. I am planning to re-read Hamlet; but this book sounds very juicy (pun intended)! I cannot resist the idea of Horatio's writing love sonnets for Hamlet!

  2. Hey Matt...It's always great to see you here and I hope to meet you on your next visit to Kauai. I think you'll love this book. It also made me want to read Hamlet again.

    Aloha to you--Rob

  3. I'm glad to see a good review of this one because I'm tempted--very tempted--to own it!


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