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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: July ::
Hamlet's Feminine Endings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0328  Wednesday, 28 July 2010

[1]  From:      Larry Weiss <
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     Date:      July 26, 2010 1:23:01 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings 

[2]  From:      John Briggs <
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     Date:      July 26, 2010 1:45:33 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
 
[3]  From:      Anthony Burton <
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     Date:      July 26, 2010 8:51:36 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
 
[4]  From:      William Godshalk <
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     Date:      July 27, 2010 2:56:46 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Larry Weiss <
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Date:         July 26, 2010 1:23:01 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

We aren't talking about today's Helsingborg,
  
Helsingborg is a small Swedish town across the strait that separates Sweden from the 
Danish Helsingor.

In any case, there are ample references to both the Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern 
families in Renaissance Denmark, as I believe a check of the SHAKSPER archives will 
confirm.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         John Briggs <
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Date:         July 26, 2010 1:45:33 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

Syd Kasten wrote:

>But a question more germane to the list is what was in the author's 
>mind when he planted these two north-European named characters 
>among the almost consistently south-European named characters of 
>the main plot?

This is a question that has been answered many times -- and at least once by myself. 
The 1586 engraved portrait of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (intended to be the 
frontispiece for one of his books) has the shields of the 16 noble families from 
which he is descended, and these include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Brahe sent 
copies of the engraving as publicity to England, mentioning the English 
mathematician Sir Thomas Digges. Sir Thomas's son Leonard was a poet, and wrote one 
of the prefatory poems in the First Folio. Any guesses as to how Shakespeare came to 
hear the names?

John Briggs

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Anthony Burton <
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Date:         July 26, 2010 8:51:36 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

Syd Kasten offers his impression that Hamlet's main plot is occupied primarily by 
people of south-European names: "we are talking about an Elsinore where everyone had 
names like Claudius, Marcellus, Bernardo, Laertes etc. To me R & G's Germanic names 
stand out starkly," which put me to scrounging through the play for evidence of 
North European names. More or less central to the main plot, as I conceive it, are 
Hamlet (father and son) and Gertrude, all irreproachably northern in name. The 
ambassador Voltemand is perhaps not central, but unless we're addled by stoups of 
liquor from Yaughan's tavern we all remember poor Yorick, whose memory was so green 
in Hamlet's thoughts.  

Hamlet's nationalistic quip about the French bet against the Danish bet might 
instead initiate an interesting discussion over whether or not Shakespeare meant to 
associate the old regime and the "true" Denmark with Germanic/Norse names and 
contrast them with the usurping Claudius and his crew with the more distinctly 
foreign southern/Latin ones. No, I have not forgotten the universal confidant 
Horatio, consideration of whom would make such discussion all the more interesting.

Tony

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         William Godshalk <
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Date:         July 27, 2010 2:56:46 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0318  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

Syd Kasten quotes: "That being of so young days brought up with him and sith so 
neighbour'd to his youth and haviour,..." and suggests that these words: "must refer 
to their being fellow students of Hamlet's at Wittenberg and, like Horatio, 
truants." If so, they don't seem to be on speaking terms. 

Kasten further writes: "I did check the Danish yellow pages and found that there 
indeed many Rosenkrantzes but not a single Guildenstern, Gildenstern, Guldenstern 
etc." 

Let me suggest that an internet search might be more successful. It was for me.

Bill


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