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Priscilla Frank

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Was Hamlet's Dad Gay?

Posted: 09/15/11 06:34 PM ET

Many of us have felt haunted by our sexuality at some point or another, but most of us don't decide to project these frustrations onto one of the great literary masterpieces of all time, while claiming to show "what's really going on."

A new novella titled 'Hamlet's Father' gives an alternate explanation for the series of unfortunate events which plague Hamlet, the ultimate tragic hero; according to the novella, the sticky situation stems from the fact that his father was a gay pedophile. Who molested Horatio. Who, it turns out, was the one who killed the father, not Claudius. Oh and Laertes, Rosencranz, Guildenstern? all molested, all gay too.

Not surprisingly, critics are outraged at the publication, as well as the man responsible for it, science fiction writer Orson Scott Card. Card, Brigham Young's great-great-grandson, who moonlights on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, recently published a speech identifying the gay community's yearning to "get out of the homosexual community and live normally."

Quick Poll

What do you think of Orson Scott Card's concept for 'Hamlet's Father'?

It's offensive.

It's an interesting new interpretation of the classic.

Other; I'll explain in the comments.

Critic William Alexander was quoted in the Guardian deeming Card's work a '"nightmare of vitriolic homophobia" and "as horrifying as it is ridiculous." On his blog, Card denied that the character of Hamlet's father was homosexual, claiming he is a "pedophile, period" and asserting he was "as proud of the story as ever."

If that doesn't turn you off, the novella is also "very badly written," according to critics on the LGBT portal Queerty. Take a look at this nuanced announcement of Ophelia's death:

"She killed herself. Walked out into the sea, dressed in her heaviest gown. A funeral gown. Two soldiers went in after her, and a boat was launched, but when they brought her body back, she was dead."

Subterranean Press, the publishing house responsible, is currently facing quite a bit of negative attention. Want to get out your anger? Don't pull a Hamlet and go around killing everyone; how about emailing subpress@gmail.com or tweeting #buyabiggaynovelforscottcardday? And as for Mr. Card, when Polonius said "to thine own self be true," maybe he didn't have him in mind.