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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Klingon Hamlet and Taymor Titus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0411  Monday, 28 February 2000.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Monday, February 28, 2000
Subject:        Klingon Hamlet and Taymor Titus

This weekend my older daughter, Melissa, presented me with a just
off-the-press copy of THE KLINGON HAMLET (New York: Pocket Books,
February 2000) prepared by the Klingon Language Institute (Flourtown,
Pennsylvania, http://www.kli.org).

For the reader's convenience the work includes the "restored" Klingon
original on the right-hand page with the English translation on facing
left-hand pages.

Also included in the appendices are "Notes on the Scansion of
<I>Khamlet</I>" and endnotes such as this one regarding the arguably
most famous passage in the work ("taH pagh taHbe'"):

To be, or not to be... Klingon does not have an equivalent of the verb
"to be." (Although it seems personal pronouns are becoming
grammaticalized into copulas, taking on verb suffixes, they cannot bear
an existential meaning.) Therefore the grammar of the Klingon original
has been the subject of no little argument, with many scholars arguing
for an archaic interpretation of taH ('continue' in contemporary High
Klingon). The use of the third person as an impersonal is also highly
deviant in Klingon literature. Apologists for the theory that Shex'pir
originally wrote in Terran rather than Klingon have even gone so far as
to claim that these four lines, or at least these three words (taH pagh
taHbe') were translated into Klingon by someone other than the person(s)
who translated the remainder of the play. These wild theories need not
detain us here. The literal translation of the 'disputed' passage is:
"It [he?] either continues, or it [he?] doesn't continue. Now, I must
consider this sentence [question?]. Is he honorable, when he endures the
torpedoes and phasers of Fate in the brain? Or, when he takes weapons to
fight a seeming ocean of and ends them by fighting them? He sleeps. He
dies - he merely dies..."

Those considering classroom adaptation will be pleased to learn that
Pocket Books grants a discount on the purchase of 10 or more copies of
single titles.

[Editor's Note: Please, no private e-mails about my editorial violation
of the authorship discussion ban. -HMC]

Melissa's visit from her college refuge was so that I could take her and
her boyfriend to see the Taymor Titus.

My second viewing confirmed all that I had written earlier (SHK 11.0338
Wednesday, 16 February 2000) that this is the finest Shakespeare *film*
I have ever seen, including my much beloved CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT.

For those interested in my distinctions between productions conceived
for the 'big' screen and for television, or between productions that
interpret the plays visually and those that record stage performances
see my essays "Two *Lear*s for Television: An Exploration of Televisual
Strategies"  {*Literature/Film Quarterly*.  14 (1986): 179-186.
Reprinted in Bulman and Coursen *Shakespeare and Television: An
Anthology of Essays and Reviews*, 122-129} and "Jane Howell's BBC First
Tetralogy: Theatrical and Televisual Manipulation"  {*Literature/Film
Quarterly*.  20 (1992): 326-331}, which are available on the SHAKSPER
fileserver by sending the commands GET TWOLEARS FOR_TV and GET HOWELL
BBC to 
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 .

I had considered addressing the negative reception of the film by Nicole
Imbracsio (SHK 11.0366  Monday, 21 February 2000) and the CNN review
(http://www.cnn.com/2000/SHOWBIZ/Movies/02/22/review.titus/index.html),
but I decided to pass and encourage SHAKSPEReans to go and see the film
and to decide for themselves.

Again, I repeat my plea: love it or hate it, this is a film that needs
to be supported in the theatres to send a message that there is an
audience for intelligent films and that some of us would like to see
more films like this one and not just one more Julia Roberts film.
 

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