This chapter examines a number of narrative adaptation of Julius Caesar for children, from the Victorian period to the present day. Most notably, the Roman plays do not feature in Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807). It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that authors started to “supplement” the Tales by adapting those plays that the Lambs did not include, thus fostering a sense of pride in their nation at a time in which the Boer War threatened Britain’s international position as an imperial power. Polarization in character portrayals is very common in all narrative versions although in contemporary rewritings it is increasingly difficult to present to the child reader an unquestioning belief in the heroic stature of Caesar (and most contemporary adaptors appear to be particularly sensitive to the dangers posed by an unruly mob). In narrative versions for children, Brutus’ lack of self-knowledge and misinterpretation of outer experience, Caesar’s pride and ambition, Cassius’ mixed motives and feelings are retold and made sense of in terms of different interpretations of personal responsibilities. In children’s versions it is generally the narrators who are entrusted with the task of connecting the dots that are scattered in the play into a coherent, simplified, albeit inevitably biased, picture. Retelling Julius Caesar as narrative as well as drama is, like all human storytelling activities, a competition between conflicting interpretations.

Conspiracies for Children: JULIUS CAESAR in Retold Versions of the Last Two Centuries

LAURA TOSI
2018-01-01

Abstract

This chapter examines a number of narrative adaptation of Julius Caesar for children, from the Victorian period to the present day. Most notably, the Roman plays do not feature in Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807). It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that authors started to “supplement” the Tales by adapting those plays that the Lambs did not include, thus fostering a sense of pride in their nation at a time in which the Boer War threatened Britain’s international position as an imperial power. Polarization in character portrayals is very common in all narrative versions although in contemporary rewritings it is increasingly difficult to present to the child reader an unquestioning belief in the heroic stature of Caesar (and most contemporary adaptors appear to be particularly sensitive to the dangers posed by an unruly mob). In narrative versions for children, Brutus’ lack of self-knowledge and misinterpretation of outer experience, Caesar’s pride and ambition, Cassius’ mixed motives and feelings are retold and made sense of in terms of different interpretations of personal responsibilities. In children’s versions it is generally the narrators who are entrusted with the task of connecting the dots that are scattered in the play into a coherent, simplified, albeit inevitably biased, picture. Retelling Julius Caesar as narrative as well as drama is, like all human storytelling activities, a competition between conflicting interpretations.
Rome in Shakespeare's World
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3702993
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