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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Hamlet's Books
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2185  Wednesday, 29 November 2000

[1]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 11:13:31 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 14:43:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 07:31:21 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 11:13:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books

We know that Hamlet has read plays, specifically "The Murder of
Gonzago," and that he can tell the difference between choice Italian and
inferior Italian.  We know that he has read (probably Petrarchan) love
poetry, because he writes really bad love poetry for Ophelia.  We know
he has read Vergil, because of the way his inserted speech (wherever it
is) handles material from the Aeneid.  I have forgotten most of Cicero
on old age, but I don't think Hamlet is alluding to it when he pictures
hopeless old men, as in Polonius (Jaques does the same number on old
men).  Shakespeare does not seem to have held much of a case for Cicero,
judging by the way his death is treated in Julius Caesar.

Of the two, Horatio is supposed to be the better scholar or philosopher,
but Hamlet can obviously keep up with him.  With Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern, Hamlet trades better-quality puns and great truths for
their schoolboy dirty jokes.  Hamlet is as smart as Claudius, an equal
with Horatio, smarter than Laertes, much smarter than Polonius in his
dotage.  He can only hold his own with the Gravedigger, who is a better
theologian.  He combines book learning with practical know-how, as in
fencing or gardening.  He thinks he thinks too much, but he doesn't
think he reads too much.  Despite his words to the contrary, he doesn't
seem to be as much of a dreamer as is Romeo.

Roy Flannagan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 14:43:02 -0500
Subject: 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books

>We also know attended Wittenberg, Bill . . . so we know he must have
>read Kit Marlowe's _Faustus_.

Carol Barton wirtes tongue in cheeky.

Sure, Shakespeare must have -- I believe -- known that Faustus was at
Wittenberg.  Did he imagine that Hamlet was there at the same time?
Wittenberg did not open its university doors until early in the 16th
century.  If Shakespeare knew that fact, he was placing Hamlet firmly in
the 16th century, as Marlowe was placing Faustus.

In 1517, Luther was busy nailing up his theses. (Remember the Playbook
punning cartoon?) Did Shakespeare imagine that Hamlet was at Wittenberg
during the Lutheran reformation?  Did Shakespeare imagine that Old
Hamlet was a Roman Catholic, while young Hamlet is a Lutheran?

Does anyone find Lutheran references in Hamlet's speeches?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 07:31:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Hamlet's Books
Comment:        SHK 11.2175 Re: Hamlet's Books

Hamlet is reading Brian Vickers. He has already felt a twinge of
hendiadys and fears that aposiopesis cannot be long delayed.

T. Hawkes
 

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