The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1609  Monday, 25 June 2001

From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 25 Jun 2001 04:07:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Special Hamlet issue of Mississippi Review

The following is from the Chronicle of Higher Education's daily update
(25 June '01):

"A glance at the summer issue of "Mississippi Review": Hamlet, Ophelia,
and Laurence Olivier

"As a youth, the writer Floyd Skloot most admired Hamlet's "To be or not
to be" soliloquy. "It showed a mind engaged with the fundamental
question of existence," he says in this special issue, which includes
poems, essays, and fiction about Shakespeare's "Hamlet." He no longer
believes, however, that Hamlet is considering suicide at that point. The
real question for Hamlet, he says, "concerns how to be, and how to live,
especially when you find yourself at the end of your ability to know."
Jay Rogoff, who teaches at Skidmore College, compares Kenneth Branagh's
four-hour film of "Hamlet" with earlier ones, such as Laurence Olivier's
1948 version. He quibbles with some of Mr. Branagh's decisions: "He's
got one eye on the clock and the other on the balance sheet, fearing
that like Polonius, we're all for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or we
sleep." By having Hamlet consummate his love for Ophelia out of wedlock,
Mr. Branagh makes him "a suave sexual hypocrite," writes Mr. Rogoff. In
a poem titled "Olivier's Answer," Peter Cummings, a professor of English
at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, writes:

"Perhaps the question that's most in the minds / Of students when they
read this famous play / Is whether Hamlet's and Ophelia's kind / Of love
included 'sex,' as they would say." The poem concludes: "When one bold
talk-show host took up the quest -- / 'Did Hamlet bed Ophelia any time?'
-- / Sir Laurence paused, then with a wink he said, / 'In every cast
that I knew of, he did.'" The issue is not online, but more information
about the journal is available at http://orca.st.usm.edu/mrw "

I haven't read the article yet, but I'm curious if anyone on the list
agrees with Skloot's opinion that Hamlet is not really contemplating
suicide when he speaks the "To be or not to be" soliloquy.


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