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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: August ::
Seattle All-Female Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0719  Friday, 4 August 2006

[1] 	From: 	Aaron Azlant <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 10:49:13 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[2] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 17:03:48 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Aaron Azlant <
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Date: 		Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 10:49:13 -0700
Subject: 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

 >I must disagree.  The Lucianus character is actually supposed to be
 >the brother.  Hamlet's word "nephew" is a mistake by him.  Exactly
 >why Hamlet made the mistake is debatable.  "Freudian slip" would
 >do, offhand.  The 'Mousetrap' is supposed to show Claudius killing
 >his brother, so the correct word, that Hamlet should have said, is
 >"brother."  Hamlet blundered.

Wouldn't the mistake in this case be Shakespeare's rather than Hamlet's? 
And in either case, how does one explain away the fact that the Player 
King is also, like Hamlet, a desperate melancholic?

Following Stephen Booth in "On the Value of Hamlet," I suggest that, 
foremost, we pay attention to what /Hamlet/ undeniably is: a series of 
actions upon an audience. Rather than discussing the play as though it 
is a curious artifact full of mistakes, intentional or not, I submit 
that what we actually have is an extraordinary complex work that is 
designed to provoke extraordinary responses in its audience.

If you need a comparable example, consider how the Ghost asks Hamlet to 
kill his uncle in the same breath that he insists that Gertrude be left 
to heaven. Or the multiple ways that suicide is considered in the play 
-- and especially in its final scene (consider how Hamlet jumps from 
exchanging Christian forgiveness with Laertes to describing suicide as a 
"felicity"). Or how Claudius tells Hamlet to desist his "obstinate 
condolement" in the same scene that he has opened by noting that, of 
King Hamlet's death, the "memory [is] green." And so on. As Booth puts 
it, "this is the tragedy of an audience that can't make up its mind."

So it goes with the Mousetrap scene, which also produces a subtly 
contrary response in its audience. One can try to rationalize away the 
oddness of the scene, of course. I don't dispute that oddness; I just 
think that it is integral to the play's experience.

--AA

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Thursday, 3 Aug 2006 17:03:48 -0500
Subject: 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0712 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Replying to John Briggs.

 >The Q1 text derives from the F text, ...

That is chronologically impossible.  F1 was published 20 years later.

Jenkins, in the Arden2, argued that Q1 derives from the Q2 manuscript. 
Perhaps he was right.  It's debatable, and he cited some evidence that 
can't be dismissed.  I think the relationship between Q1 and Q2 is more 
complicated than in simply either being derived from the other.  What 
Jenkins wrote may be valid, but I believe there's a larger story.

Jenkins, in turn, argues for F1 being derived from an annotated Q2 
manuscript.  That would give a very roundabout sort of derivation of Q1 
from F1, in a manner of speaking, if Jenkins was right.

Allow me to presume you meant to write "Q2" instead of "F," and then 
explain F as coming from Q2, and that would solve the difficulty, (if 
one agrees with Jenkins.)

 >... no-one suggests that the reviser [for the F version] was
 >anyone other than Shakespeare himself.

Actually, some have, and their expertise is established.  The example I 
have immediately at hand is Bernice Kliman.  On the Hamlet Works 
website, she writes:

~~~~~
"When I approached colleagues about collaborating on the new variorum 
Hamlet project I have coordinated since 1987 (part of the series 
published by the Modern Language Association under the direction of 
general editors Richard Knowles and Robert Kean Turner), their first 
question was, "Which copy-text, Q2 (1604/5) or F1 (1623)?" To my 
response, "F1," they raised eyebrows: well, that would be daring. The 
main argument against the folio - that it is a text contaminated by 
theatrical experience - was for me the principal argument in its  favor, 
for the contaminating actors were Shakespeare's colleagues."
~~~~~

As best I read that, she says she thinks F1 is indeed changed by non- 
authorial input, called "contamination," but views that in its favor, 
apparently (as I grasp her statement,) because F1 probably reflects  the 
totality of the theater at the time.  I can't speak for her, and I don't 
know exactly why she favors F1, so my words on that must not be taken as 
hers.

Also, Jenkins made a few comments on non-authorial details of F1, and I 
think I could quote an example or two, if pressed.

It's generally accepted that certain words and phrases, at least, in F1 
are not from S's hand.  I don't know of any publication that prints F1 
exactly, and insists every word is Shakespeare's.  To the best of my 
belief, doing such a thing today would be viewed as highly eccentric.


Replying to Larry Weiss.

 >But forgive me if I suggest that it seems a wee bit solipsist
 >to say that since Shakespeare was a theatrical genius he
 >must have intended a staging that one ingenious reader
 >thinks is inevitable. ...

The point would be granted, if my argument were based merely on it being 
ingenious.  However, my argument is based on it being in accordance with 
the dialogue, also the fact that the Ghost must rise at some point to 
appear in the Closet Scene later.  So I do have certain facts on my 
side.  As always, the interpretation of those facts is arguable.

 >If Shakespeare couldn't miss it because he was so sharp,
 >was everyone else a dolt?

Compared to S?  Yes, we're all dolts, compared to him.  Everyone after 
him who has tried to stage the play, or discuss it, has been a dolt, 
compared to him.  People should face that fact.  I do.  It's what led me 
back to the original text, and away from later commentary: trying to be 
less of a dolt.

It is definitely possible that things S included in ~Hamlet~ have been 
missed, no matter how often it's been staged, after him, or by how many 
people.  And indeed, mistakes tend to feed on each other, and carry 
forward, as later performers, (and commentators,) tend to follow each 
other, instead of going back to the original, and trying to take a fresh 
look at it.  Mistakes and oversights could persist forever, if they 
simply don't happen to get corrected.

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