"He had not opened his eyes in the moment. Her touch had released some tiny increment of the poison bound up in him that would, days to come, ripen into sorrow. And by the time he thought all this he could no longer tell if her caress had truly happened or whether he'd manufactured it out of necessity."
I don't know where to start with this book. It has received a lot of mixed praise and criticism, but I loved it. I loved Edgar so much that my eyes swam with tears more than once because I loved Edgar more than any character in maybe any book.
Edgar Sawtelle is a re-telling of Hamlet. Easily my favorite Shakespeare play, and this book has confirmed it, because of the complexity of the characters. Why did Gertrude marry Claudius? Does Hamlet forgive his mother for that? Does Ophelia understand how much Hamlet loved her? Did Hamlet really go insane? Why the pirates? These are questions I have considered as I read Edgar Sawtelle, and turned back to my copy of Shakespeare's complete works to check on things I thought were there, or to remember certain characters and events. The re-telling is subtle. Which is beautiful because it is not about Hamlet, it is about Edgar. But is also in a way, about each of us.
I was in a Shakespeare class last year and my teacher asked us if we thought that Shakespeare loved Hamlet. I didn't know what to think. Does an author love his characters? Then, (in the spirit of anti-New Criticism) he said, "Does it change your mind if you knew that Shakespeare's own son was named Hamnet?" Of course it did.
Maybe this review doesn't make sense, but reading Edgar Sawtelle was like reading about my own past to some extent. We all feel misunderstood. We all experience that love that you can't express because it is so much. We all lose things and people that are important to us. We are all Hamlet.