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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1018  Friday, 23 May 2003

[1]     From:   Rafael Acuna <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 May 2003 20:44:04 +0800
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[2]     From:   Rafael Acuna <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 May 2003 20:44:04 +0800
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet and Insanity

[3]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 May 2003 09:31:23 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[4]     From:   Kenneth Chan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 May 2003 22:26:45 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[5]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 May 2003 11:59:53 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlet and Grebanier


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rafael Acuna <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 May 2003 20:44:04 +0800
Subject:        Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

>In summation, I would note that several centuries worth of anti-Hamlet
>confusion at the hands of critics is, indeed, enough.  If Grebanier put
>into words for all times a contextual approach to the play Hamlet and
>the character Hamlet, and his apparatus is cogent and precise and right
>on, and available to any with library access, then it stands to reason
>that Grebanier's The Heart of Hamlet: The Play Shakespeare Wrote is
>integral to any discussion of the play and the character.

How does Grebanier respond to these questions by Weston Babcock (pp.
24-25) from *Hamlet: A Tragedy of Errors*?

"Did Claudius realize that Hamlet knew his father had been murdered?
Every study of the play with which I am familiar assumes that he did.
But there is not a line in the play that shows that he did realize it."

and

"The fifth question concerns Hamlet's willingness to play the fencing
match with Laertes. Why did Shakespeare make Hamlet, who had been
suspicious of nearly all about it, and despite 'the mind of gain-giving
that would perhaps trouble a woman' (V, ii, 226-228), agree to fence
with the son of the man he had killed and to try to win a wager for his
mortal enemy?"

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rafael Acuna <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 May 2003 20:44:04 +0800
Subject:        Re: Hamlet and Insanity

I've read part of Grebanier's book, and this is what he wrote prior to
p. 80:

"four attitudes are the only possibilities on the question of Hamlet's
insanity: (1) Hamlet is insane, or (2) Hamlet feigns insanity, or (3)
Hamlet feigns insanity at times and is actually insane at others, or (4)
Hamlet is perfectly sane and never pretends to be otherwise. All but the
last have been stoutly upheld." (65)

Grebanier also wrote:

"Unhappily, a vast bulk of Shakespearean commentary is nullified by the
predilection of scholars to base their theories on things said. They
take a passage out of context with the action, and build upon a single
passage (sometimes a single line or two) their interpretation of the
whole play, and then squeeze the entire work into the theory, no matter
how bad the fit. These Procrustean habits require lopping off entire
sections of the action; if any given scene proves inconvenient to the
theory it is ignored as if it were not there." (134)

I'd like to go against Grebanier's advice and take an action (not a
passage) out of context. What do you make of this:

Hamlet's friends see the ghost of elder Hamlet. It's possible, then,
that Hamlet isn't insane or that Hamlet and his friends are insane.

Gertrude does not see the ghost. What do we make of Gertrude? Of Hamlet?

Rafael Acuna

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 May 2003 09:31:23 -0400
Subject: 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

I have been biting my metaphorical tongue on this discussion as I'm not
addicted to Hamlet (R&J and MoV being my primary Shakespeare drugs of
choice).

But what has been troubling me more and more is the polarity that has
developed in this thread: Grebanier *must* be right versus *can't* be
right.

To Bill Arnold I would say this:

No one has it all right about Hamlet or any other work of great art.
*No one*.

Does Grebanier's analysis satisfy all your questions? Quite obviously it
does.

Have you as yet communicated in your own words what that analysis says
other than "not mad" etc? No. I still am not clear on what it is that
Grebanier uses to back up his statements that has convinced *you*.
Unless it is simply that his thesis fits what you already "felt" about
the play?  If so, we still need supporting evidence.

Further, even if his arguments (and hence yours) are cogent and
well-made, they are not nor ever will be the *only* arguments, the only
position to be taken about Hamlet and the play that bears his name.
Since Shakespeare never to our knowledge left his own analysis: "I wrote
Hamlet as a decisive blahblahblah" there is *no* way anyone-- not you,
not Grebanier, not Larry Weiss or Mike Jensen or Sean Lawrence or Bill
Lloyd or <fill in names of SHAKSPERians both scholarly and performance
oriented, both professional scholars and amateurs of passion> -- can say
"This is it-- there's no more need to discuss, all the Hamlet questions
are answered."

Oh by the way-- not all of us are affiliated with a University and can
say "Order me up this text on interlibary loan, please."  My local
public library looked at me blankly.  I priced it on Bookfinders-- and
the cheapest one available was over $50- more than I can allocate to
read one argument among many about the meaning of Hamlet.

I'm not taking a position on Grebanier-- I've not read him and I've not
seen enough details of his reasoning (only statements of his beliefs) to
know if I approach agreement.  I'm asserting that declaring the argument
closed on the basis of Grebanier is a rather mulish insistance on that
which cannot be except for the individual(s) making the case for
Grebanier's thesis.

So let's see the line of reasoning behind Grebanier's argument, and
let's see counter-reasoning, all tied to the text, and less of the
"Grebenier is God/no, and those who think he is are arses" -- feuds
"bred of an airy word."  Thank you.

Mari Bonomi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 May 2003 22:26:45 +0800
Subject: 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1010 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

Thank you, Bill Arnold, for answering my question on Grabenier's work. I
also note that you stated:

"... my enquiring mind really wants to know the FLAW in Grebanier.  I
CANNOT find IT!"

Actually I had responded, in my posts, to your earlier call to point out
a possible flaw. Perhaps you missed these messages which included quotes
from Grebanier. (The first can be found in the posting: Hamlet and
Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques 05/12/03) They concern Grabenier's
view of Hamlet's delay.

Unfortunately, I do consider these points serious flaws in Grebanier's
interpretation; so I was hoping to hear some reasoned defence of
Grebanier's position. I am open to changing my mind, but I do need a
reason for doing so. Perhaps we can begin discussing Grebanier's
arguments now?  That, I am sure, will be very interesting.

Kenneth Chan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 May 2003 11:59:53 -0400
Subject:        Hamlet and Grebanier

Dear Colleagues:

Bill Arnold writes:

"I was accused by someone who was obviously lookin in the mirror of
being a "pompous ass" for my comments re: Grebanier.  Hey, look, ALL, we
are indeed SHAKSPEReans: and I assume that the one thousand five hundred
of us ALL do not need ME to lecture the list about not passing the
circulation desk on the way into the stacks of your nearest library.
Haven't any of you heard of "interlibrary loan"?  Sheesh."

Bill Arnold refuses to give us Grebanier's arguments. Instead, he gives
us this author's assertions and conclusions. In my original post, I
simply asked Arnold to elaborate on how Grebanier arrives at his
conclusions.  It was a reasonable request, and one that is honored often
on this list.  For Arnold's information, yes, I know where the reference
desk is in my college library, but 1) many SHAKSPERians are not close to
university libraries, and 2) many college libraries are in intersession
now and their hours are either curtailed or they are closed. In my
college, inter-library loan is closed until 9 June, when summer session
begins.

Arnold also writes:

"For the truly noble and principled among you, DO NOT PASS THE
CIRCULATION DESK WITHOUT ASKING FOR AN INTERLIBRARY LOAN SLIP TO REQUEST
A COPY OF GREBANIER TO READ FREE OF CHARGE.  Sheesh.  And don't let the
door kick you in the arse as you leave the library.  VE-RI-TAS, as they
say in Harvard Library!"

Like the first quote, this one contains a gratuitous insult. I conclude,
Mr. Arnold, that you suffer from a huge inferiority complex when
addressing Shakespearean scholars and it explodes whenever a scholar
tries, as I did, to carry on a civil conversa-tion or even ask
innocently for more information.

That's a shame. But it's clearly your problem, not mine. So go look in a
mirror: closely.

--Ed Taft

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