2004

The Meaning of Hamlets

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2032  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

[Editor's Note: This thread has reached its useful end. Anyone wishing
to continue this discussion should do so privately.]

From:           Kenneth Chan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 22:58:59 +0800
Subject: 15.2026 The Meaning of Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2026 The Meaning of Hamlet

John Reed writes:

 >"So I am not inclined to accept the restriction that we should confine
 >our analysis and discussion to what Shakespeare said.  It unreasonably
 >restricts the domain of counterargument - this is the same maneuver the
 >Enlightenment Philosophers make."

John, let us distinguish between two levels of analysis and discussion.
At one level, we are analyzing what Shakespeare himself is trying to
convey in his plays (whether or not we agree with him). Here, we have no
choice but to examine closely what Shakespeare himself actually wrote,
because we are trying to discern his point of view. At this level of
discussion, it is probably inappropriate to use quotations from other
authors (when they do not concern Shakespeare's play) to suggest that
Shakespeare meant something else. While we may still vary, to some
extent, in our interpretations, our analysis here must, nonetheless, be
based on Shakespeare's own script.

At another level of discussion, we can decide to analyze and debate the
issues that Shakespeare raises in his plays (instead of just trying to
discern what Shakespeare is trying to convey). Now we can bring in
quotations and arguments by other authors to back up our viewpoints.
Here, we are free to disagree with Shakespeare. Nonetheless, even at
this level of discussion, we should avoid confusing the issue by
suggesting that Shakespeare meant something that does not concur with
what he actually wrote.

The points I have tried to make on this thread are largely in the spirit
of the first level of discussion and analysis - i.e. that of discerning
what Shakespeare himself is trying to convey. That is why I have
repeatedly stressed the need to back up our arguments with a detailed
and reasoned reference to the Shakespearean script.

John Reed writes:

 >""Facts" of course are interesting, but it is
 >easily possible to come to opposite conclusions based on the same facts:
 >lawyers do it all the time."

We tend to come to different conclusions if we each make use of only
certain selected facts that agree with our viewpoint, and ignore the
rest of the evidence. This becomes much less of a problem if we utilize
all the facts and leave nothing out. There are so many differing
interpretations of Hamlet because most interpretations are based only on
certain specially selected portions of the play and ignore the rest
(which are rendered irrelevant, or even contradictory, to the
interpretation).

The spiritual message in Hamlet, however, accounts for practically
everything Shakespeare wrote in the play. My book "Quintessence of Dust"
is specifically written in the form of a running commentary of the
entire play in order to demonstrate this. If another interpretation can,
under a single coherent theme, also account for all the puzzling aspects
of the play - that I listed in an earlier post at
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2004/1716.html - we should certainly
seriously consider and discuss it.

Regards,
Kenneth Chan
http://homepage.mac.com/sapphirestudios/qod/

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Jewish Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2031  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

[1]     From:   Philip Eagle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 07:09:59 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare

[2]     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 18:33:00 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Eagle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 07:09:59 -0500
Subject: 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare

Having no detailed academic background in this area, I often wonder why
the possibility is never discussed that Shakespeare could have done what
a modern writer would do, and developed personal sources - for example,
asked a sailor to look over the nautical passages in "The Tempest", a
lawyer to look over Act IV of "Merchant of Venice".  Or were early
modern playwrights so afraid of piracy that they wouldn't have allowed
anyone to know what subject they were working on?

Phil

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 18:33:00 -0500
Subject: 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2025 Jewish Shakespeare

 >Such often-unpersuasive demonstrations could be usefully replaced by
 >those particularizing how deeply versed he was in one or another
 >subject, but lying content with the universal explanation that he was an
 >avid reader, and endlessly curious, with extraordinary powers of recall
 >for the appropriate occasion?  To be sure, it's difficult to believe
 >that any person's reading and curiosity would be sufficient to supply
 >the demonstrated contents of a mind like WS, but the alternative is to
 >go back where we started, and agree, impossibly, with specialist after
 >specialist that 'He must have been one of us'.

When I had a post-graduate year at the University of Dijon in the late
50s, at a time when all the world was familiar with the Hollywood
western.  I was born and raised in Colorado, and when I mentioned this
to some French acquaintances, they jumped to the conclusion that I must
have grown up among cowboys.  I was ready to play along.  Indeed,
although my grandfather kept a livery stable and employed a couple of
hands who had ranch experience, I had never been closer to real cowboys
than the screen at the Palace Theater in downtown Mt. Pleasant,
Michigan.  But I did have experience of the Western landscape, and I
could sprinkle my talk with references to surcingles and lariats and
rowels and other bits of the stock-managing equipment hanging in
Grandad's barn: the willingness to suspend belief took over after that,
and nobody in the group ever seemed to doubt my persiflageous
asseverations.  I tell this story because to my mind, the "expertise"
ascribed to Shakespeare in many vocations and fields of knowledge to
which Allan Axelrod refers rarely seems to me to run any deeper than my
cowboy skills; as W. S. Gilbert knew, it only takes a few salient
details to supply verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing
narrative.

Persiflagistically,
Dave Evett

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Columbo and Shakespeare?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2029  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

From:           Philip Eagle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Mon, 29 Nov 2004 07:05:42 -0500
Subject: 15.2023 Columbo and Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2023 Columbo and Shakespeare?

There are quite a few unsourced comments on the web to the effect that
Columbo was based on Petrovich.  Most of them say that the connection
was confirmed in a public interview by one of the show's creators,
Richard Levinson, for example
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_tov/ai_2419100270,
but I can't find a specific citation to the original.  As Levinson died
in 1987, one can't contact him and ask!

Phil


_______________________________________________________________
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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Real Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2030  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 06:53:48 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

[2]     From:   Edward Brown <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 07:43:42 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

[3]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 08:58:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 29 Nov 2004 06:20:47 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 06:53:48 -0600
Subject: 15.2024 Real Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

Let's try this:

1) Every play is a configuration of interpretative possibilities; read
or acted, the reader or director has only to respect the proportions of
the argument as written. Any interpretation that does this is
acceptable, one better than another only for its having better
"explained" all the parts as a consistent whole.

2) We cannot know precisely what Shakespeare or any other writer
intended (After the fact of writing, I doubt that they themselves could
say exactly), we know only our interpretation of it, and that must
suffer and survive the examination of consistency of argument.

3) If there are several texts of "Hamlet" or any other play, each text
is a separate interpretative problem; if we choose to use some of this
one, some of that, we have created a new text, a new play for
interpretation.

L. Swilley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Brown <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 07:43:42 -0600
Subject: 15.2024 Real Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

In an earlier post, Bill Arnold seems to equate and confuse Variorum
(various) with
veritas or verus (true), implying that a variorum edition is a "true"
edition, rather than merely a collection of editions and notes from
various editors.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 08:58:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.2024 Real Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

Bill:

As a good postmodern, the term "real" makes me uneasy because it implies
value, objectivity, all those things I'm not sure I believe in. But in
essence, I completely agree with your point. The textual Hamlet and the
production Hamlet (and Colin Cox's post makes the point excellently) are
very different and that needs to be stated up front. As commentators, we
are bound to the text (aren't we all annoyed by the student who took
Psych 100 and insists on analyzing the characters?).

I admit to skipping a few of the early posts in this thread, so forgive
me if I ask something you have already answered, but what do we do about
the multiplicity of texts? You say W.S. had a Hamlet. He actually
appears to have had 3, plus the sources, which informed *his* Hamlet
(and possibly the Ur-Hamlet). Can we decide which is real or realer? Do
we treat all the texts exactly the same, even when they contradict each
other, or appear to have obvious printing house errors?

Whenever I start thinking about all the layers of print and error
between us and whatever Shakespeare first imagined, I can't help but
feel completely free from that original. If I can't find the real
original text, I can have any text I want!

Annalisa

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 2004 06:20:47 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.2024 Real Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2024 Real Hamlet

Colin Cox writes, "As actors, we are taught to trust the text in the
sense that Shakespeare clearly indicates the range of choices that are
available to us. The magic of Shakespeare, however, and this is the
genius of it all, is he never tells you how to play the part.
Shakespeare asks you to bring everything you are to the role and infuse
his characters with your life experience. If I trust this and the
template that Shakespeare has provided, my Hamlet will in no way, nor
must it ever, resemble Bill's Hamlet or Annalisa's Hamlet. When they do,
the play will no longer be the thing . . ."

Hi, Colin.  In the preface to your remark above, you indicate EXACTLY
where you are coming from in this tread: as an actor.

Well, that is fine, and I hope you can understand that that has nothing
to do with this discussion: the "Real Hamlet"!  Your Hamlet and Fred's
Hamlet and Mel Gibson's Hamlet and Bill's Hamlet and Annalisa"s Hamlet
have nothing to do with Will Shakespeare's Hamlet.

This talk of the "magic of Shakespeare" and the "genius of it all" is a
fine GLOSS on the reality that the "real Hamlet" lies embedded within
the text which is on the printed page.  A friend if mine Dan Keyes wrote
a work of fiction called *Flowers for Algernon* which became an
Oscar-winning performance movie *Charley* with Cliff Robertson, but Dan
has told me MORE THAN ONCE that the movie performance was NOT the way
the author viewed the story when he wrote it as a TEXT.

So, can you NOT understand that not all readers and scholars see
Shakespeare as drama or a movie or a TV drama: but they do READ the
text[s] and there is a "real Hamlet" which a lot of actors and directors
BUTCHER, regardless of their type-casting, age, sex, whatever.

Respectfully disagreeing with your ACTOR-limited point of view of the
value of the text, please take note: zillions of readers have NEVER seen
a staged drama or movie of *Hamlet* and yet this *collective-unconscious
Hamlet* does reside in those zillion minds and your vacuous Prince
Hamlet is not the "real Hamlet" held in those minds.  As scholars, we
ought to be able intellectually discover the "real Hamlet" in the text.

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

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Harry Potter

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2028  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

[1]     From:   Janet Costa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Mon, 29 Nov 2004 05:17:54 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2021 Harry Potter

[2]     From:   Wan-yu Lin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Mon, 29 Nov 2004 19:45:08 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.2021 Harry Potter


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Mon, 29 Nov 2004 05:17:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.2021 Harry Potter
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2021 Harry Potter

Billy Houck wrote: "The store promotional displays for Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban proudly state (on all four sides) "Something
Wicked This Way Comes"...

It seemed entirely appropriate to me that the quotation was included on
the packaging. Since the Hogwart's Choir performs a classic rendition of
"Double Double," and, since the school seems to be the Oxford or
Cambridge for a diploma in magical arts, I would imagine that somewhere
in the course catalogue, a detailed study of the Scottish play and its
main "stars" is a required course. In fact, Potions is part of Harry's
syllabus.

Kinda makes you wonder about Shakespeare's English teacher...

Janet

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Wan-yu Lin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Mon, 29 Nov 2004 19:45:08 -0000
Subject: 15.2021 Harry Potter
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.2021 Harry Potter

That is because in the film version some pupils give a performance at
the start of the term and the choir song features lyrics from the
witches' singing in _Macbeth_.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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