The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0301 Monday, 14 February 2000.
Date: Saturday, 12 Feb 2000 12:59:44 -0500
Subject: 11.0273 Re: Ur-Hamlet
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0273 Re: Ur-Hamlet
Mike Jensen and Larry Weiss point out that the non-existence of the
Ur-Hamlet does not show Shakespeare destroyed it. That's true. This
whole argument is entirely speculative, even wistful. But when we're all
on such swampy ground, why not have a little fun?
The impetus behind the argument comes from the uniqueness of Hamlet.
It's so vast and mysterious, so deeply concerned with identity, and
springs so suddenly as if from the mind of Zeus, that I feel Shakespeare
had been turning this story over in his mind for a long time. This
personal interest, even obsession, may be connected with the fact that
he named his son Hamnet.
The Ur-Hamlet was apparently in the repertory of Shakespeare's company
in the mid-1590s, from whence it vanished. How many other named plays of
his company have likewise vanished? As Bloom shows, following Alexander,
the evidence for Kyd's authorship is very shaky. So is this argument,
but until a better one comes along, I enjoy the image of Shakespeare
watching the Ur-Hamlet burn on his fire.