The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2004  Tuesday, 16 November 1999.

From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 17:49:23 +1000
Subject:        The Top 100

I thought some list members might get a (masochistic?) kick out of this.
Amazon.com apparently did some kind of poll, asking for the "top 100
books of the millenium."  Or they may have just used their sales
records- unsurprisingly, there is no detail about their polling methods.
The results are about what you might expect: a truly bizarre compendium.
However, Shakespeare did make the cut (sort of).  The Random House
complete works came in at #16, and the Signet Hamlet came in at #17
(beaten in the rankings by not one, but two Ayn Rand titles).   What is
truly enlightening, however, is to go to the "read more" section and go
through the reader comments.  Some touching, some appalling, some just
scary.  Here's my favorite, from the Hamlet reader reviews:

"Hamlet and his family have lived in Denmark. They stay in a castle at
Elsinore. A short distance on the estate is an orchard with cool shade.
The time is the afternoon. The king leaves to get some rest in the
orchard. Time passes, and he does not return. The family becomes
worried. Someone goes to the orchard and finds the king. The rumor is
that he has been killed by a poisonous snake. A madness has fallen on
Hamlet. Thus the deceased king's apparition is clearly seen and heard.
For a time members of the family and others detect Hamlet's queer
demeanor. As time passes, it is seen more frequently. It sounds as
though he spent much of his salad days with the jester. A reader is not
as easily mousetrapped as other readers about Hamlet's motives. The
historical record shows that Emperor Claudius was poisoned by his wife
so that her son, Nero, would inherit a throne. "

Despite the above, the reader did give Hamlet five stars.

Those not faint of heart may find more such perspectives at:

Karen Peterson-Kranz
University of Guam

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