|(Image from The Sunday Times)|
In an interview with Rachel Martin on NPR, Winterson explains why she chose The Winter's Tale: "[I]t's got an abandoned baby in it, and I am one, and, you know, abandoned babies in literature do pretty well — not just in literature, in popular culture, Superman, Spider-Man, Han Solo in the Star Wars trilogy, he doesn't know who his father is, famously." (Whoops, she means Luke Skywalker of course.)
In Winterson's reimagining the King of Sicilia becomes a banker:
I thought okay, I'm going to set it in the present day, but I thought, a king, what's that? It's an alpha male, and somebody who think's he's in control, lord of the universe, a Time Lord, he can do what he likes. And I thought, well, who would that be now? It's got to be a banker, hasn't it?Winterson also adds an explicitly sexual backstory for Leontes and Polixenes' strangely intense friendship and breach:
I thought, why are these two guys, why are they so close, and also, what's this jealousy all about, 'cause it's really a triangle — it's not just that Leo's jealous about his wife, he's jealous about his best friend as well ... there's a kind of homoerotic impulse behind it, which is just under the surface in Shakespeare. So I sent them off to boarding school together, you know, couple of young kid from damaged families; these two guys become friends for life. They have the usual kind of affair at boarding school, you know, no big deal, Leo [her Leontes] goes on to be a rampant heterosexual, Xeno [her Polixenes] is gay. And for a while that works beautifully, and then the conflict sets in. So that's the basis of the story.