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‘To Be, or Not To Be’

Hamlet Q1, Q2 and Montaigne

Saul Frampton

The differences between the second quarto (1604–1605) version of Hamlet’s soliloquy beginning ‘To be, or not to be’ and the version contained in the first quarto (1603) have often been used to argue for the authorial integrity of the former and the degenerate nature of the latter. However, recent research has questioned the customary primacy between these two texts, arguing instead that Q2 revises and expands Q1. This article will attempt to substantiate this interpretation by showing that Shakespeare’s revision of ‘To be, or not to be’ is inspired by Montaigne’s essay ‘By diuerse meanes men come vnto a like end’, translated by John Florio and published in 1603. Shakespeare’s indebtedness to Montaigne has been noted before, most notably in The Tempest. But it is significant that possibly Shakespeare’s first direct encounter with Montaigne is inspired by the very first three pages of Montaigne’s Essays.

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The Good Enough Quarto

Hamlet as a Material Object

Terri Bourus

This article challenges A.W. Pollard’s foundational distinction between good and bad quartos, which confuses ethical and bibliographical categories. Some quartos are badly inked, or printed on poor-quality paper. But Q1 Hamlet is a professional, well-made commodity. Zachary Lesser has conjectured that Q1 sold poorly, and has claimed that the similarity of the title pages of Q1 and Q2 supports that hypothesis. But both title pages are typical of Ling’s books, and their similarities are no more remarkable than those in Ling’s different quartos of Michael Drayton’s poems. Q1 Hamlet apparently sold more quickly than Q2. Using D.W. Winnicott’s theories about the ‘good enough mother’ and ‘transitional objects’, we can identify Q1 as a ‘good enough quarto’.

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Dan Gunn

The present article seeks to analyse the place of Shakespeare’s work within the oeuvre of Gabriel Josipovici, starting with the latter’s first published critical book, The World and the Book, and ending with his most recent, Hamlet: Fold on Fold. In the early work Josipovici sought to establish a direct line between the Middle Ages and Modernism, yet Shakespeare was already a presence whose plays obliged that line to deviate. In his later critical work, such as On Trust, Shakespeare becomes one of the figures who allows Josipovici to exemplify clearly the crucial gap he wishes to explore between saying and doing. This gap is most fully explored in the recent book on Hamlet, where the protagonist is seen as the supreme literary example of what happens when the traditions governing doing have fallen away, leaving the character adrift in a sea of possibilities of utterance and action, none of which has the feel of necessity.

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‘Brief Let Me Be’

Telescoped Action and Characters in Q1 and Q2 Hamlet

Tommaso Continisio

The first quarto of Hamlet offers a fundamentally distinct play from the versions contained in the second quarto and in the First Folio. Taking Q1 as an autonomous, finished text, and assuming that Q2 and F were not only printed but also written later, this article sets out to explore Shakespeare’s conception of key characters in this first version, how it took shape, and how and why his approach changed in subsequent revisions. In particular, I will concentrate on the characterisation of both female and male characters as they appear in Q1 and Q2, trying to underline the different poses towards which they gesture and putting them against the backdrop of a narrative frame whose speed, in the case of Q1 Hamlet, seems continually to increase.

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Telmah Thel

The Hustle-Bustle of a Hindi Romeo and Juliet

Jonathan Gil Harris

This article builds on Terence Hawkes' 'jazz' reading of Hamlet to suggest ways in which music can shed light on radical aspects of Shakespeare's theatrical and linguistic craft. Turning specifically to Hindi cinema and the convention of the 'item number', the article considers the latter's translingualism and how it can help us understand the relations between Shakespeare's own polyglot language and the border-crossing nature of desire in Romeo and Juliet.

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Farmers still count for a lot in France, despite their shrinking numbers. Scarcely four per cent of the workforce now earns a living in agriculture. Yet, every politician knows that the country has a huge stake in farming— France is second only to the United States as an agricultural exporter—and that farmer unions wield clout. Farmers have cultural leverage as well. Rolling fields and rural hamlets still figure prominently in most people’s mental image of what makes France French and its social fabric whole.

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Michael Wilding

Henry stood groaning in front of the pigeonholes, holding out a letter in one hand in passable imitation of Hamlet. ‘Good news from your agent?’ asked Dr Bee. ‘Agent, what agent?’ said Henry. ‘My agent is a secret agent. She doesn’t reveal her existence to me or mine to any publisher. No, there’s this letter saying Rollo said to get in touch with me and thanking me for arranging lunch and I can’t read the signature. Can’t remember arranging any lunch’.

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Dora Verus Dora

Exploding the Myth in Wise Children

Judy Hayden

'A woman attends a funeral. The coffin is lowered into the grave. A man approaches her and says, "He was not your father."' Thus begins a book, On Birth and Madness, by Eric Rhode, an opening reproduced in a review by Angela Carter. In this 'wayward and infuriating book', Carter observes, Rhode is remarkably absorbed by paternity, by Oedipus, by Hamlet and by Freud's LIttle Hans – in a book which ostensibly addresses maternity. Whose child we are, our paternity, Carter counters, is a 'profoundly absurd question' ('Rhode', 202–03).

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From Summit to Tragedy

Sulayman Al-Bassam's Richard III and Political Theatre

Graham Holderness

Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s best-known characters, a familiarity independent of the history plays, Henry VI and Richard III, in which he appears. This celebrity has less to do with Richard’s historical reputation, and more with the way in which great actors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries gave the role status and popular visibility, particularly perhaps via Laurence Olivier’s 1955 film version. Just as Hamlet is automatically identifi able by black suit and prop skull, Richard is immediately recognisable by his legendary deformity (mandatory hump, optional limp), and by the famous opening line of his initial soliloquy: ‘Now is the winter of our discontent’.

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Building a House in Nepal

Auspiciousness as a Practice of Emplacement

John Gray

The subject of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness in South Asian society has largely been analyzed as a temporal condition in which there is a harmonious or inharmonious conjunction of people and events in time. In this article, the construction of houses by high-caste people living in a hamlet in Nepal is used to argue for a reconceptualization of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness as practices of emplacement in space and time. The analysis demonstrates how the rituals associated with the various stages of construction ensure the new house's compatibility with its spatial milieu—the soil, the site, the cardinal directions, and the reigning deities, as well as the vital force of the earth. Together with the auspicious timing of each stage of construction and its associated ritual with the owner's horoscope, the result of the building process shows auspiciousness to be a harmonious conjunction of person, place, and time.