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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0801  Monday, 28 April 2003

[1]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 02:26:13 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)

[2]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 21:27:23 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 02:26:13 EDT
Subject: 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)

Bill Arnold's report on Bernard Grebanier's The Heart of Hamlet
indicated: "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."

I also read the book and remember I had a negative reaction to
Grebanier's arguments that Hamlet was neither a procrastinator nor a
madman, or that he ever acted mad or hesitated in his revenge. Please
correct me if I err, but Grebanier argues that a close analysis of
Hamlet's dialog never indicates madness, assumed or otherwise. Though
Hamlet may have been angry mad and not insane mad, he must have spent
considerable effort acting insane mad, otherwise why did so many others
think him so.

Every major character (including Hamlet) remarks on his madness or antic
behavior, even his closest ally: Hor: "These are but wild and whirling
words...", Pol: "That he is mad, 'tis true... (He) is far gone",
Claudius: "...dangerous lunacy...Madness in great ones...O, he is mad
...", Queen: "...Hamlet's wildness...Mad as the sea and wind...", Oph:
"...what a noble mind is here o'thrown!...Blasted with ecstasy.",
Hamlet: "I am but mad NNW... I am punished with a sore distraction...His
(Hamlet's) madness." Guil: "...start not so wildly from my affair.",
Ros: "...what is the cause of your distemper?", even the Gravedigger:
"Why, because 'a was mad...(lost) his wits.".

As for the charge that Hamlet delayed his action, as I remember
Grebanier showed that every day that passed in the play's presentation
showed Hamlet an active participant in the design, determination, and
eventual resolution of Claudius' foul deed. However, Grebanier does so
without accounting for the time lost between the ghost's demand for
revenge and the development of Hamlet's plan to catch the conscience of
the king, time spent wandering the lobby no doubt.

Based only on my memory of Grebanier's arguments - Jay Feldman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Saturday, 26 Apr 2003 21:27:23 -0400
Subject: 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0786 Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)

>In my search for the 1960s book on Hamlet which put a different spin on
>the old canard that he was "the Procrastinator" I have begun re-reading
>Bernard Grebanier's The Heart of Hamlet.

Keep in mind that Grebanier was of the school that believes that WS
follows Aristotle's tragic theory like a puppy dog follows its master.
This is not to say that he has nothing to report, being a serious
[German] scholar. Simply, a word to the wise.

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