William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily a New Hope: Ian Doescher—a Mash-Up for the Ages
Review by Ben Jenkins
Mash-up stories are nothing new to the literary world as of late, but Ian Doescher’s book, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily a New Hope, is more than just a classic story paired with a modern zombie or vampire twist it is two epics colliding together, giving us a new hope for future mash-ups.
Written in blank verse, Ian Doescher tells the story of Luke, Leah, Han, Vader and the rest of the cast from a galaxy “far, far away” through Shakespeare’s classic meter. The book follows the story line of the original movie, but does so with the use of iambic pentameter, which gives English majors everywhere the ability to read this text unabashedly amidst their professors (or should we call them Masters).
Nicolas Delort’s illustrations throughout the piece add an extra element to the story, which allows the reader to visualize the action within the text. The image on the cover strengthens the mash-up feel by depicting Vader in the robes and finery of someone we would expect to see in the typical Shakespearean play.
The best sections of this story come when Doescher combines some of the classic scenes from Star Wars with that of Shakespeare’s meter. A great example transpires in Act III, Scene 1 of Doescher’s text on page 69 when Obi-Wan, Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 are confronted by Stormtroopers at Mos Eisley, on Tatooine.
OBI-WAN –True it is,
That these are not the droids for which thou search’st.
TROOPER 3 Aye, these are not the droids for which we search.
OBI-WAN And now, the lad may go his merry way.
TROOPER 3 Good lad, I prithee, go thy merry way!
OBI-WAN Now get thee hence
TROOPER 4 –Now get thee hence, go hence!
With so much to live up to, Doescher happily fulfills his part in the re-creation of these two worlds. It is unclear as of yet whether those in the strict literary camps will feel that this work is a kind of gateway story, which will lead future Shakespearean scholars to (what they must think is) the dark side of the literary world, or if the Star Wars fans will accept this deviation on their hallowed ground. Either way, this story is a success simply for shedding light and adding life to two classic elements of popular culture we all love.
If you admire this work as much as I have, be thankful that it will, like Star Wars, be part of a trilogy. William Shakespeare’s The Empire Stiketh Back was released March 18th, andthe third installment, William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return, will be out July 1st.
About the author:
Ian Doescher has loved Shakespeare since eighth grade and was born 45 days after Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope was released. He has a B.A. in Music from Yale University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. Ian lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. This is his first book.