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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: November ::
Real Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1996  Monday, 22 November 2004

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 2004 09:14:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1984 Real Hamlet

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 2004 07:54:18 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1984 Real Hamlet

[3]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 2004 16:18:51 +0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1973 Real Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 2004 09:14:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1984 Real Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1984 Real Hamlet

Having just finished teaching The Spanish Tragedy, may I put in a plug
for the missing Thomas Kyd Hamlet as the real Hamlet?

I write only half in jest. I wonder if anyone can say when an awareness
was formed that Kyd's text was missing. Was Kyd's text noted as missing
or lost before the printing of the first quarto?

Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 2004 07:54:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.1984 Real Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1984 Real Hamlet

Colin Cox quotes me: "This question, will Will's real Hamlet please
stand up, requires us to know which text is the real text of Will S.?"

Then Colin Cox writes: "I think the answer is uniquely simple, there
isn't one. That's the beauty and elegance of Shakespeare. Every actor
that takes on the role can do no more then imbue the template of the
words with the passion of their life...There is no Hamlet, I pray there
never will be."

Jim Carroll writes, "The various Hamlets are probably different
re-writes by Shakespeare...Considered as such, every Hamlet is arguable."

Tom Krause writes, "Q1 (1603) - mainly important for ghost's
nightgown... Q2 (1604-05)- based on earliest text... F (1623) -- based
on next-earliest test Search for "true" text is hopeless; changes might
have been Shakespeare's...But as between Q2 and F, there isn't all that
much difference in Hamlet's character, so maybe it doesn't matter.
There's an enfolded Hamlet (Q2, F) at
http://www.global-language.com/enfolded.html."

Well, well, well.  An actor says the DELIVERY ON STAGE IS ALL THAT
MATTERS, and JC says "Hamlet is arguable" and TK says "there isn't all
that much difference in Hamlet's character, so maybe it doesn't matter..."

Sheesh.  So what is the point?  We should burn the TEXTS of Hamlet and
only see the play, and RESTRICT our discussions on SHAKSPER to actor's
deliveries?  And seeing as it is ENDLESSLY ARGUABLE then we ought to
agree to disagree and just plain fogedaboddit?  And seeing as there
ain't much DIFFERENCE between TEXTS and none of us will OFFER AS THE
COMMON GROUND ONE TEXT, then why CITE texts if none of us agree to THIS
or THAT being pertinent?

Hey, Shakespearean scholars, is THIS the Hamlet we want to portray: as
dubious a character as dubious presentations of dubious scholars and
dubious students of the bard?  I admit it plays into the hands of the
DUBIOUS interpreters.

But, I ain't buying it.  Y'all get a big fat F!

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 2004 16:18:51 +0000
Subject: 15.1973 Real Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1973 Real Hamlet

 >This question, will Will's real Hamlet please stand up, requires us to
 >know which text is the real text of Will S.?  So, I ask of Shakespearean
 >scholars, which?  I refer to the one in my collected Will S. book, but I
 >hear stuff about Q1, Q2, et al., and wonder what IS Hamlet and how do we
 >know which Hamlet is in which Hamlet?
 >
 >Can anyone really know?  Unless we decide upon THE TEXT of Hamlet then
 >it does seem meaningless and fruitless to argue about Prince Hamlet
 >unless we can attribute which words to him.  Authorial intent awaits
 >resolution!  Who knows, in twenty five words or less?
 >
 >Bill Arnold

I think we can safely say that all of the texts are real, but none of
the characters are.  It is, indeed. meaningless and fruitless to argue
about Prince Hamlet as though he were 'real'.  There has, however, been
some interesting work done on the relationships between different texts
of the play.  Paul Werstine's 'The Textual Mystery of Hamlet',
Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1. (Spring, 1988), pp. 1-26, is very
interesting on the subject of the Q2 and First Folio texts.  He has
also, in the same journal, written about the so-called 'bad' quartos (Q1
conventionally coming into this category): 'A Century of 'Bad'
Shakespeare Quartos, Vol. 50, No. 3. (Autumn, 1999), pp. 310-333, and
'Narratives about Printed Shakespeare Texts: 'Foul Papers' and 'Bad'
Quartos', Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 1. (Spring, 1990), pp.
65-86.  Laurie Maguire's book called Shakespearean Suspect Texts is a
useful source for discussion of the subject of how some of the quartos
came to be written / published and how much of a hand Shakespeare might
have had in the writing of them.  The idea that Shakespeare re-wrote and
revised his work is a compelling one and in the light of this we could
argue that Shakespeare has deliberately characterized the role of Hamlet
differently in the different texts (this is Werstine's argument in 'The
Textual Mystery ...') .

Sorry, more than 25 words.

Kathy Dent

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