Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0674. Wednesday, 18 September 1996.
From: Andrew Walker White <
Date: Tuesday, 17 Sep 1996 22:29:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Pennington, Player Kings
First, let me recommend highly Michael Pennington's recent book on Hamlet,
subtitled "A User's Manual". I recommend it in part because I disagree so
sharply with his views on the Dane -- Pennington has, very subtly, written the
bulk of his text from the perspective of Claudius, the role he has spent so
much time creating lately. Hamlet, needless to say, comes out looking pretty
shabby, but it is a good bit more stimulating to read Pennington's knowing
criticism of the character than, well, the Oedipal nonsense cooked up all those
years ago by Dr. Jones ...
In response to E.H. Pearlman's remarks about Charlton Heston's role in
Branagh's upcoming Hamlet: Having been featured a couple times as the First
Player/Player King (that's the way they've cast it where I'm from), the Fall of
Troy is treated as triumphant verse. Remember, it is supposed to be regarded
as sublime poetry by Hamlet, who is no slouch himself. It is, in a way, poetry
squared, and is designed (IMHO) to stand out like a ruby, even in a sea of
diamonds. A fine homage to the Virgil of Will's schoolboy days in Stratford.
The proof of this is really in the recitation; I find it thrilling to recite
those lines, not the least bit ridiculous.
Without revealing my opinions on Mr. Heston's acting (and politics), I will say
that I hope it brings out the best in the old man, and gives him the workout of
A question for those of you who have seen the Branagh promo; are there any
signs of that Oedipal nonsense w/Gertrude? If so, I may not bother paying my
$7 to see it come Xmas.