LD: As I continue to enjoy and learn of the gifts of Young Adult reading, I find myself drawn to the suggestion made earlier about how we might be able to connect YA to classics, such as Shakespeare. It is lovely to read modern adaptations of old faves, like Ella, where the parallels and connections to a classic are consciously chosen by the author. It is another thing to do a kind of Easter egg hunt for the hidden goodies that may not have been consciously planted.
Slave Dancer is one book I thought about alot, with whispers of The Tempest following me around. Were there any real parallels? After holding back several weeks, I am now plunging forward with my ideas; to hell with my self micro-management!
One of the strongest parallels I found in Slave Dancer to The Tempest were the shared enclosed worlds they were set in, encircled by the sea and her whims. In Slave Dancer, survival was based on the ship, with death close at hand, in the oceans, if one did not obey or fall ill. In The Tempest, Prospero’s island is where safety is sought, against the sea, again, as the ultimate punisher of men. Both settings, too, contain dangers closer at hand than the sea. Both, also, show slaves, in different forms; in both, the slavers are diminished as a result.
Both Slave Dancer and The Tempest have solitary leaders (Captain Cawthorne and Prospero) who are ruthless, hard to read, and corrupted; loyal, conflicted, underlings with strange personalities obeying for mysterious reasons, (Purvis and Stout; Ariel and Caliban); and shifting relationships and alliances depending on changing circumstances. Both books also shared the palpable sense of relief when the protagonists were removed them from these enclosed worlds, however uncertain the new worlds might be.
I am interested in sharing and pointing out these parallels and similarities to my reading students, with carefully chosen sections of texts as illustrations; I would be curious to see if it sparked any interest in deeper reading of The Tempest. Then, I could bring in the obvious differences too. Might this start the ball rolling towards experiencing Shakespearean prose?