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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0905  Monday, 12 May 2003

[1]     From:   Claude Casper <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 May 2003 15:54:18 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)

[2]     From:   Kenneth Chan <
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 >
        Date:   Saturday, 10 May 2003 08:54:38 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques
(1576)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Casper <
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Date:           Friday, 9 May 2003 15:54:18 -0400
Subject: 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Tragiques (1576)

>Much is troubling in Mr. Caspar's response, but I have other fish to
>fry. This, however, I cannot let pass:
>
>>But, alas, real emotions, modern
>>emotions like the ones we experience everyday, are never discreet, are
>>always mixed, compounded, confused.
>
>Alas indeed. When did emotions become confused and thus modern and real?
>The 3rd Century b.c.? The 11th Century a.d. The 16th? The 20th?

Until Whistler & Turner painted fogs & mists, Wilde reports, no one
seemed to see them- after, everyone did.  People painted what they knew,
not what they saw.

In "The Decay of Lying," Wilde has Cyril ask Vivian, "Nature follows the
landscape painter, then, and takes her effects from him?" To which
Vivian responds,

Certainly. Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those
wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the
gas-lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if
not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that
brood over our river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved
bridge and swaying barge?  The extraordinary change that has taken place
in the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely due to a
particular school of Art. You smile. Consider the matter from a
scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am
right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us.
She is our creation.

[By the by, there is a new edition of Wilde's Portrait of Mr. W. H., his
fascinating work on the Sonnets.)]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
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Date:           Saturday, 10 May 2003 08:54:38 +0800
Subject: 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0887 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Tragiques (1576)

I wonder if Bill Arnold, or anyone on this conference, can help me
reconcile two quotes from Grebanier's work "The Heart of Hamlet", which,
to me, do not make sense. These quotes concern Hamlet's delay.

The first quote from Grebanier refers to the fact that the play does not
dwell on the time interval (about two months) that constitutes Hamlet's
delay time:

According to Grebanier,

"an audience was not aware of it, because Shakespeare didn't want it to
be... the rather large time interval was of no consequence, and truly
one cannot notice this without a conscious calculation". (Grebanier,
179)

The second quote suggests a reason for Hamlet's delay, which effectively
is this: Hamlet was being patient and waiting for an opportunity to
enact his revenge under circumstances that clearly demonstrate that it
was morally justified. The quote from Grebanier is as follows:

If the

"King is murdered, the truth is murdered too, and the King Hamlet's
assassination would be impossible to prove". "His aim is not to kill the
King and get the throne. He is primarily concerned with punishing the
murderer of his father, punishing him under the shelter of justice".
(Grebanier, 111- 113)

Unfortunately, I have not actually read Grebanier, but these quotes seem
to me that something is amiss.

What I find troubling is as follows. The suggestion, in the first quote,
that Shakespeare did not mean to highlight the delay is flawed. What is
true is that we may well have not noticed the delay if not for the fact
that Shakespeare made Hamlet bemoan the delay in two long soliloquies.
Clearly Shakespeare meant for us to notice the delay. In fact, he
deliberately highlighted it.

The second quote on the reason for Hamlet's hesitation also does not
seem correct. If Hamlet was being patient and waiting for the correct
opportunity to enact his revenge under the shelter of justice, why was
Hamlet himself not aware that this was the reason? In both his
soliloquies berating himself for his delay, Hamlet clearly did not know
why he was delaying, and was repeatedly asking himself why. Shakespeare,
it seems practically made it a point to inform us that Hamlet himself
was not really aware why he was delaying.

Perhaps I am mistaken to read Grebanier's quotes in this way. If so, I
would really appreciate being corrected on this.

Kenneth Chan

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