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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0740  Friday, 18 April 2003

[1]     From:   Ben Spiller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 13:50:18 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

[2]     From:   Ros King <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 11:26:12 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

[3]     From:   Kay H. Smith <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 15:21:00 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

[4]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 18:36:59 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Spiller <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 13:50:18 +0100
Subject: 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

If you think Hamlet procrastinates too much, then just take stock of
what he gets up to in the play: meets a ghost, vows revenge, puts on a
play, attempts to feign madness, kills Polonius, gets angry with his
mother, journeys to England, fights Laertes, and kills Claudius.
Compared to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he is Action Man!

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ros King <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 11:26:12 EDT
Subject: 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

Wasn't Oliviertalking too much to Ernest Jones, the psychoanalyst who
made several studies of Hamlet including 'Hamlet and Oedipus'?
(Shakespeare can't explain Hamlet's delay because it is hidden in the
unconscious mind of the author)

A book that examines the play in terms of renaissance understanding of
the tripartite mind (i.e. memory, understanding and will) and includes a
discussion of the concept of prudentia is Nigel Alexander, 'Poison, Play
and Duel' but I don't think this came out until the early seventies.
Certainly this tries to answer the accusation of cowardice but I don't
think it sees Hamlet as heroic - rather that the tragedy perhaps lies in
the fact that it both begins and ends with a man in full armour and that
the character who tried - and failed - to do things differently is dead.

Ros

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kay H. Smith <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 15:21:00 -0400
Subject: 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0737 Re: Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

Actually, Olivier got the tag line "This is the story of a man who could
not make up his mind" for his 1948 <Hamlet> from a Gary Cooper film.  In
an educational video called <The Great Hamlets> (1985), Trevor Nunn
interviews Olivier:

NUNN: The subtitle Laurence Olivier gave to his film was much debated
when the film was released.  What had led [you] to calling it "the story
of a man who could not make up his mind"?

OLIVIER:  I'd heard it in a film with Gary Cooper, about --- I think it
was sort of an 18th century period film, on a ship, and Gary Cooper was
reading <Hamlet>, and someone said to him,  "What are you reading?"
    - He said,  "Well, it's a play, called <Hamlet>"
    - "What's it about?"
    - "It's about a man who can't make up his mind."
And I felt that has a succinctness that ought to be useful.  It was too
simple for my critics.  They thought it was an outrageously simple
explanation.  But I needed something for my --- as you say, talk about
the millions who've never dreamt of seeing <Hamlet,> they're  going to
now --- I needed every reasonably helpful sop I could to that fact.

After a little detective work, I discovered that the film Olivier is
referring to is the 1937 action drama, <Souls at Sea> directed by Henry
Hathaway and starring Gary Cooper and George Raft.  So the famous line
has a cinematic rather than a critical provenance.

Kay H. Smith
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Appalachian State University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Apr 2003 18:36:59 EDT
Subject: 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0731 Book on Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hello:

I suspect the book from the 60s that Bill Arnold was trying to recall
that argued for a non-procrastinating Hamlet is Bernard Grebanier's "The
Heart of Hamlet". It was published in 1960, and as I recall [though it's
been decades since I read it] it offered "corrective" interpretations of
a number of aspects of the play, including Hamlet's assumed madness and
his seeming procrastination.

Bill Lloyd

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