Friday, February 23, 2018

Shakespeare References in The Fan

Bob Randall’s novel The Fan, told entirely through letters written by the characters, contains several Shakespeare references. The novel is about a demented fan who carries out a love affair with a star in his mind, an affair that turns deadly. The first reference is in a letter from the actor, Sally Ross, to her ex-husband, Jake: “This letter comes to you from the crankiest old lady the world has seen since Mrs. Macbeth” (p. 24). The second is a reference to The Tempest, though it is not as obvious. I might think I was reading into it a bit, were it not for the fact that there are other references in the book. Anyway, this one comes in a letter from the fan to Sally: “This is, of course premature, but dreams are the ‘stuff’ of which we mortals are made and so I dream on” (p. 101). The line from The Tempest is “We are such stuff/As dreams are made on.” However, the line might be a more direct reference to these lines from David Chalmers Nimmo: “Of dream-like stuff, of dream-like stuff/We mortals all are made.” In another letter to Sally, the fan signs it by writing “All the love that the sonnets of Shakespeare contain, Douglas” (p. 154). This book also contains a reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The fan, in another letter to Sally, writes, “The course of true love, the poets have said, does not run smooth” (p. 175). That is a reference to Lysander’s famous line, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” The final reference is to Romeo And Juliet, and also comes in a letter from the fan to Sally: “It is the same love that befell Romeo and Juliet. Like them, we shall live on in the hearts and minds of men for all time” (p. 239).

The Fan was published in 1977.

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