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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Hamlet Questions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0041  Monday, 10 January 2005

From:           Scot Zarela <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Jan 2005 13:45:39 -0800
Subject: 16.0030 Hamlet Questions
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0030 Hamlet Questions

In SHK 16.0030, John W. Kennedy 
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  replies to my
guess that Hamlet is the "author" of Lucianus' "Thoughts blacke":

 >... one may argue just as easily that the Pyrrhus speech represents
Hamlet's
 >notion of a very good speech ...

No argument; Hamlet himself says so.  But having the notion doesn't mean
that Hamlet could write in that style if his life depended on it.

JWK again:  >... whereas the "Thoughts black" speech is rather
suggestive of Shakespeare's own style at his most lyrical.

I think it's more suggestive of W. S. Gilbert at his most harum-scarum:

Noisome hags of night -
Imps of deadly shade --  [etc.]

Or, if you mean it's somewhat like a Shakespeare song, I can see that;
but Hamlet (according to my premise) intends these lines to be spoken,
not sung; and unfortunately they're precariously close to nonsense for
speaking.

JWK:  >Neither one particularly resembles "Doubt thou".

Hamlet aborted his love lyric, or rather he dropped it painlessly like a
dilettante; but for the "Murder of Gonzago" he might try composing a
poisoner's soliloquy, different in kind but with similar outcome:
jagged verses, heartfelt, strained, reaching, unachieved, and ultimately
interrupted by Hamlet in his own voice with an explanation.

JWK:  >Moreover, the "Thoughts black" speech itself does not seem to be
to Hamlet's purpose.  It mentions poison, but not the means of
administration.

Just so:  it's hard to manage exposition in verse that's at the same
time actable.

Faith I must leaue thee Loue, and shortly too:
My operant Powers my Functions leaue to do:  [etc.]

The Players' dramaturg could turn out the stuff with despicable ease
(and the player could summon the appropriate emotion) - but Hamlet, who
has cause, can't.  I like this particularly about my reading, because it
gives Hamlet a hard time. More drama!  His trouble is our fun:
conflict, suspense, reversal, irony ....

-- Scot

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