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Hamlet’s Catch-22

A Psychoanalytic Reading of Hamlet and Catch-22

Bahareh Azad and Pyeaam Abbasi

The double-bind dilemma that Hamlet is engulfed in places him in a catch-22 situation from which there seems to be no way out. Locked in a psychological impasse exacerbated by a deficient Oedipal process due to the father’s death and mother’s remarriage, he is driven into (feigning) insanity, a situation that brings him close to Yossarian, Heller’s paranoid antihero who is as much inept in the face of the paternalistic ordeal he is subjected to as an army fighter. Evading the fear of castration on the one hand and becoming consumed with guilt for the incompetence to face the trial on the other give rise to problematic identities of both protagonists and numerous evasive strategies they plot. Nevertheless, through mainly linguistic/textual acts of defiance, these initially victimized subjects to the law of the father turn into rebels, mastering and thus making the Symbolic order backfire on itself.

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Karma Sami

Four Arab Hamlet Plays, edited by Marvin Carlson and Margaret Litvin with Joy Arab (New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Centre Publications, 2015). 299 pages.

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Douglas Bruster

Q1 Hamlet (1603) routinely sets prose speeches so that they appear to be blank verse. This article argues that such was an attempt to confer prestige upon the text, particularly in the wake of the saturation of Shakespeare books on the literary marketplace around 1600 – a phenomenon that saw his prose works achieve less favour than those in pentameter. The publishers of Q1 Merry Wives (1602) and Q1 Hamlet may have hedged their bets on these Shakespeare texts by amplifying their verse, long the gold standard of the Shakespearean brand. Like The True Tragedie of Richard III (published 1594) and The Famous Victories of Henry V (entered 1594), which presented their opening pages to readers as iambic pentameter, Q1 Hamlet seems to have beautified its dialogue for readers in the early modern book marketplace.

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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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Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey

While the articles in this volume are focussed on new research in Hamlet studies, this editorial ‘Afterword’ reverts to an earlier stage of the debate around Q1, specifically the ‘culture wars’ of the 1990s, and re-examines the controversy surrounding the publication of the Shakespearean Originals series, which was launched with a new edition of Hamlet First Quarto (1992). Shakespearean Originals sought to situate texts within the historical conditions of textual production by decomposing conflated modern editions into the various discrete, and to some degree incommensurable, textualisations that were produced by historical contingency in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A general recovery of such textualisations, as they existed before their colonisation by the modern edition, was at that point in time clearly a priority. Although the series was prompted by ascendant currents in critical theory, the academy was not ready for this particular editorial initiative.

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Q1 Hamlet

The Sequence of Creation and Implications for the 'Allowed Booke’

Charles Adams Kelly and Dayna Leigh Plehn

The case for Q1 Hamlet as a pre-Q2 text is coming into focus as the findings of several scholars are reconciled. Additionally, a finding related to the Brudermord text has helped mark that text as a predecessor to both Q1 and Q2/F, with further implications for Q1 as a pre-Q2 text. As this view of Q1 becomes accepted, patterns of Q1 vs. Q2 variance advance the case for Q1 as being the author’s draft of the text that became the censor-approved ‘allowed book’. There is no way to know how most of the Q1 vs. Q2 textual variants progressed from Q1 as printed, to the non-extant allowed book from which the players’ parts were copied, and finally to Q2. However, the 577 Q1 lines that are identifiably concordant but variant to lines in Q2 represent a category of Q1 lines that will be of interest to those planning to edit or stage Q1 Hamlet.

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De Luca and Hamlet

Thinking Outside the Box

Paul Gravett

Gianni De Luca's 1975 adaptation of Hamlet converted 30,000 words into 48 pages of graphic novel. One of the key techniques De Luca drew upon was that of 'continuous narrative', a historically tested method of 'thinking outside the box', whereby the same character, at different stages of the action, can appear several times on a single page. De Luca mastered the technique, making limited use of panel borders, whilst avoiding reader confusion. Nonetheless the method had been used previously, not just in Little Nemo and Gasoline Alley, but as far back as Botticelli's illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy, or even the fifteenth-century Cent nouvelles nouvelles ['The Hundred New Stories']. Subsequently De Luca's technique was to influence graphic novelists as diverse as Fred, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, Joe Sacco and Killoffer.

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The Hybrid Hamlet

Player Tested, Shakespeare Approved

Christopher Marino

The first or ‘bad’ quarto of Hamlet is the subject of much debate. Is it an early version of the play as some scholars suggest? Or is it corrupted memorial reconstruction, a product of ‘fast writing’ transcription, or just a pirated version of the play rushed into print? In this article I posit that the first quarto is indeed a valid text that deserves to be recognised for its unique, unfussy, playable brilliance. That the text provides clues (if one knows how to look), that elucidate answers to many of the questions that productions must contend with. I believe it to be a time-capsule version of sorts that is a product of what the actors truly performed, rather than a celebration of the poet’s aspirationally complex verse.

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Gary Taylor

This article proposes that Q1 Hamlet is best understood as an early Gothic tragedy. It connects Catherine Belsey’s work on Shakespeare’s indebtedness to ‘old wives’ tales’ and ‘winter’s tales’ about ghosts with Terri Bourus’s evidence of Q1’s connections to Stratford-upon-Avon, the 1580s, and the beginnings of Shakespeare’s London career. It conducts a systematic lexical investigation of Q1’s Scene 14 (not present in Q2 or F), showing that the scene’s language is indisputably Shakespearian. It connects the dramaturgy of Q1 to the dramaturgy of Titus Andronicus, particularly in terms of issues about the staging of violence, previously explored by Stanley Wells. It also shows that Titus and Q1 Hamlet share an unusual interest in the barbarity and vengefulness of Gothic Europe (including Denmark and Norway).

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Rory Loughnane

W.W. Greg first identified the dumb show in Hamlet as problematic: if Claudius sees the dumb show, which replicates his murder of Old Hamlet in mime, then why does he not react until much later? Many explanations have been offered, and this article responds to (in title and argument) John Dover Wilson’s influential account in What Happens in Hamlet (1935) which inspired much further debate. First discussing the anomalous nature of the dumb show in Hamlet, before turning to the different versions of the dumb show as they appear in the three substantive texts of Hamlet, this article considers the nature and content of the information supplied by dumb shows and the critical arguments that can be developed from these slippery inset performances.