A book publisher says its been caught "flat-footed" by outrage over its reissue of a version of Shakespeare's Hamlet that turns the king into a gay pedophile.
Critiques of the book, Hamlet’s Father, question its effort to connect pedophilia with homosexuality and point out that it's written by a marriage equality opponent — Orson Scott Card.
London's Guardian notes that backlash spread after an "explosive review" from the Rain Taxi Review of Books. And in its review earlier this year, Publishers Weekly said the book's "focus is primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of pedophilia, a focus most fans of possibly bisexual Shakespeare are unlikely to appreciate."
Subterranean Press recently released a collector’s edition of the Hamlet's Father thinking it would "find an audience" among Card's fans. Card is a science fiction novelist whose book Ender's Game won some of the most prestigious prizes in his genre. But Card is also a member of the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage, which has fought same-sex marriage around the country.
"We did not anticipate controversy for republishing a work which had received no controversy prior to our publication, and which remains in print elsewhere," wrote publisher Bill Schafer in a statement on Subterranean Press's website.
The book was first published in 2008, when Card reached new heights in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Card was a vocal proponent of Proposition 8 in California in 2008.
"How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy," he wrote in the Mormon Times before the vote. "I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn."
Then after Prop. 8's passage, Card wrote again in the Mormon Times, saying Mormons who fought on his side had unfairly lost friends over it.
"If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, these LDS young people would not have rejected their friends who voted to repudiate the meaning of marriage," Card wrote. "And if they had, would they not have been condemned as bigots, for being unable to tolerate someone else voting his conscience?"
Schafer has said he's "ready to hear any complaints and criticisms" on behalf of Subterranean Press and asks for emails at [email protected].