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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Hamlet's Books
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2208  Friday, 1 December 2000

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 10:55:18 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 15:07:06 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 22:16:29 -0800
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 10:55:18 -0600
Subject: 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books

David Knauer cites an article by P. K. Ayers,

>"Reading, Writing and Hamlet," Shakespeare Quarterly 44 (1993): 423-39,
>in which the argument is made that Claudius represents an older, more
>oral epistemology and Hamlet a more recent literary one.

Without reading the article, I can't, of course, comment directly. But
surely a much more emphatic association of Claudius -- in some ways
definitive -- is with the Renaissance interest in politics, whether
honest or Machiavellian, as compared to the Medieval preoccupation with
war and chivalry, exemplified by the murdered elder brother. Claudius
belongs to the new type -- power-hungry, unscrupulous, deceitful,
debauched -- while King Hamlet to the old. Or so Hamlet perceives him,
and nobody seems to deny this. Moreover, he wishes very much to
associate himself with this idealized (even idolized) vision of true
nobility, and Fortinbras confirms the association in the last lines of
the play.

Regards,
Don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 15:07:06 -0500
Subject: 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books

>I read somewhere the suggestion that it was Jerome Cardan's "Comfort"
>that Hamlet was reading.
 writes Stephanie Hughes.

Harold Jenkins (Arden Shakespeare, long note to 2.2.196) also lists
Juvenal, Satire X, 188 ff., Erasmus, The Praise of Folly, and Guazzo,
Civil Conversations. But Jenkins feels that attempts to identify the
book are pointless, and that, if Shakespeare want to allude to a
specific book, he could have made a better job of it!

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Nov 2000 22:16:29 -0800
Subject: 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.2194 Re: Hamlet's Books

Actually, Hamlet requested that the First Player perform a speech,
"Aeneas Tale To Dido" from an unnamed play (there has been much beating
about of brains as to the source of this unknown play). Analysis of the
speech suggests analogues with _The Aeneid_ among others (Ovid, Peele,
etc.). At any rate, Hamlet seems to know the speech without having ever
read the play (he says he saw it acted -- once!).

Certainly Shakespeare knew Virgil, et al. Can we assume that Hamlet's
"reading" is a parallel of Shakespeare's? Consider Richard Boleslavsky's
comments regarding characterization (he was referring to Ophelia, but
the concept applies to any character): "It is his [Shakespeare's] mind
at work which you should characterize while acting Ophelia, or for that
matter, any Shakespearean character. The same goes for any author who
has a mind of his own" _Acting: The First Six Lessons_. NY: Theatre Arts
Books, 1939 (81). How much (if any) of the character's knowledge can be
separated from the author's?

Paul E. Doniger

W. L. Godshalk replied to:
>
> Roy Flannagan:
>
> >We know
> >he has read Vergil, because of the way his inserted speech (wherever it
> >is) handles material from the Aeneid.
>
> But Hamlet is supposed to be quoting a play here, isn't he?  I would
> take this as another example of Hamlet's knowledge of the theatre,
> rather than his knowledge of the Aeneid.
>
> Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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