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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
Hic et Ubique
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0336  Friday, 21 April 2006

From:         Bill Lloyd <
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Date:         Thursday, 20 Apr 2006 11:46:08 EDT
Subject:     Theory of Hamlet

Somehow the thread on Dumbshows in general has morphed into one on the 
dumbshow in HAMLET!  Canst thou work i'the ground so fast?

The front matter of the new Arden 3 Hamlet [Q2 text] includes the 
following excerpt from an address made in 1909 by H. H. Furness, editor 
of the New Variorum Shakespeare, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard:

"Lastly, let me entreat, and beseech, and adjure, and implore you not to 
write an essay on Hamlet. In the catalog of a library which is very dear 
to me, there are about four hundred titles of seperate editions, essays, 
commentaries, lectures, and criticisms of this sole tragedy, and I know 
this is only the vanguard of the coming years...  I am convinced that 
were I told that my closest friend was lying at the point of death, and 
that his life could be saved by permitting him to divulge his theory of 
Hamlet, I would instantly say, 'Let him die! Let him die! Let him die!' "

Bill Lloyd

[Editor's Note: As editor of SHAKSPER, I entreat, and beseech, and 
adjure, and implore members NOT to send in posts on Hamlet that simply 
restate interpretations and theories that have previously been vetted 
here. Instead, I am thinking about instituting "The SHAKSPER 
Hermeneutics Competition." I have yet to work out all of the details; 
but as I imagine it, any member (I am still debating with myself if 
those who identify themselves as scholars or academics can participate.) 
who wishes to compete will submit his or her explication of the play or 
poem under consideration (We will, of course, begin with HAMLET). These 
interpretations will not be subject to comment by other members but will 
stand as the submitter's expression of the ultimate truth about the 
meaning of the play or poem under consideration. After the closing date, 
SHAKSPER members will vote on which interpretation is the WINNER. From 
that point forward, no further discussion of the meaning of that play or 
poem will be permitted on SHAKSPER. Anyone submitting a post about that 
play or poem will receive a form letter notifying the submitter that the 
matter of the meaning of that work has been determined and the answer of 
its true meaning can be found in such and such a post in the archives or 
in a special section of the web site (like a FAQ). Another alternative 
would be to set aside space on the SHAKSPER website for a bulletin board 
dedicated to that play or poem; the winner of the competition will 
moderate and any others who desire can argue amongst themselves to their 
heart's content, protected from the cynicism of those so-called scholars 
or academics who are fed up with listening to or participating in 
discussions of characters, motivations, themes, or the meanings of 
particular plays or poems.]

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