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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0811  Tuesday, 29 April 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 2003 08:59:49 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576

[2]     From:   Michael Shurgot <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 2003 11:50:19 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 08:59:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Tragiques (1576)

Jay Feldman writes, "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." [Citations follow]

Claude Caspar writes, "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."

I accept both reasonable statements above.  But, and this is a big BUT,
I am only re-reading Grebanier and I am overwhelmed by the logic of his
book, with ample analysis and documentations.  Hamlet as a play and
Hamlet as a character is complex, but I find that Grebanier has done a
commendable job on total analysis and documentation I find wanting in
other books.  And I wonder why I am in the opposite camp of Jay
Feldman's reaction to the book, just as we are in opposite camps, I
assume, in our take of Shakespeare's play and main character, Hamlet?  I
find Grebanier to be dealing with "The Play Shakespeare Wrote" and do
not find the Aristotle element there as much as Claude Caspar.  Just
what am I missing in my take on Hamlet/Grebanier?

Is it too much to ask if this Hamlet/Grebanier thread can be treated
with more analysis and documentation, including reasonable refutation as
offered above by Jay Feldman and Claude Caspar?  Although I do not have
the answer at hand to either refutation, I do sense that Grebanier or
others more familiar with the book would have the quick answer.  It is
the heart of the matter of his book, and I might add, the heart of the
matter of the play Hamlet, and the character Hamlet.

To those unfamiliar with the book I would suggest they ought to read
Grebanier's book if they are Hamlet aficionados.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Shurgot <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 2003 11:50:19 -0700
Subject: 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0801 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Tragiques (1576)

Dear Colleagues:

Grebanier notwithstanding, and Hamlet's procrastination notwithstanding,
I would argue that everyone whom Jay Feldman mentions in his list of
characters who he suggests believes or comments on Hamlet's "madness"
may be themselves deceived about whether or not Hamlet is mad
north-north-west, or east-east-south, or north-east-south-westerly, etc.
(Comical-historical-tragical-pastoral, etc. etc.) A production must
decide at what times Hamlet is truly "distracted," as the Elizabethans
understood that word. (cf. Derek Jacobi's clutching Ophelia suddenly in
the nunnery scene in the BBC and crying out "It HATH made me mad!"). But
surely Hamlet's antic-disposition is part of his defense mechanism as he
plots catching the conscience of the king. And do we not assume that
considerable time has elapsed between the end of act 1 and the beginning
of act 2, enough time for Hamlet to have been moping around the castle
acting (or being) distracted enough so that people have begun to worry
about him, and for his bursting into Ophelia's closet to seem as the act
which convinces Polonius and later Claudius that something must be done
about him. "You know sometimes he walks here in the lobby, etc."; Hamlet
has been walking around reading (so we assume from Polonius' remark),
and spectators have to imagine a passage of some time to have occurred.
Grebanier, I think, wants Hamlet, as others have observed, to follow an
Aristotelian pattern that is not exactly evident in the play.

Regards,
-Michael Shurgot

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