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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #911

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Of course, one of the most paradoxical things about Hamlet is that it has to be the least completed of Shakspeare's 'sacred' texts.

Plays didn't last 6 hours in Elizabethan - Jacobean England.

The text, as extant, takes a good 5 to 6 hours to perform (even at supposed Elizabethan speed).

We therefore have a lot of rubbish in the play which Shakspeare would have disposed of in the final performance text.

So much for the kneel down and prey before the master, everything is sacred attitude displayed by many to this rather flawed, incomplete piece of theatre text.
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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #913

The Q2 / Folio version is a closet drama, of course. There is no playing time concern for closet drama. The stage version is represented by the shorter Q1, although badly mangled.

Your notion of "rubbish" in the play only reveals that you are not able to read it, or have never seriously tried to.
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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #935

Personally, I think that Shakespeare loved this play so much that he worked on it a lot, tweaking it and adding to it on several occasions, ending up making it too big for complete performance. But this does not negate the value of the material that would need to be cut for each individual performance. A different performance could cut some different material, and thus we have potentially many many different theatrical versions of the play, which is good. I think Shakespeare knew that this was his greatest work.
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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #939

I strongly agree, he put a great effort into Hamlet. Both the length and the intricacy testify to that. Even at the hand of genius, such things don't happen easily. The old saying about 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration applies.

Harold Jenkins, in the Arden 2, makes a respectable case for Q1 being a "cut" of Q2. Jenkins thought, probably a cut for a traveling show, outside London. But the full Q2/Folio version seems too much for any regular, single performance, in London or anywhere.

I believe Q2 was intended as closet drama, that is, the manuscript behind Q2 was written especially to be published. Apart from the sheer length, other things support that theory, as well. The word "onyx" is one. More could be mentioned.

As an alternative, if Q2 did come from a playhouse script, the play could have been intended to be serialized. It may, hypothetically, have been intended for performance over more than one day. For performance spread out over two or three days, the length becomes much more understandable. In modern entertainment, serialization is extremely common. Against this hypothesis, I don't recall seeing any evidence that plays were performed serially in Elizabethan times.
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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #942

Willedever wrote:
I believe Q2 was intended as closet drama, that is, the manuscript behind Q2 was written especially to be published. Apart from the sheer length, other things support that theory, as well. The word "onyx" is one.

I agree (though I don't know what the significance of the word "onyx" is). I think Shakespeare *was* interested in the publication of his works, and I think we know far too little about the circumstances to wholeheartedly reject the idea that he may have been personally involved in such publications. In fact, I cannot wrap my head around any other notion than that Shakespeare must have arranged or authorized the publication of the Q2 Hamlet himself. Why not? We know too little to dismiss it with any certainty. The cover of the Q2 Hamlet boasted that it was printed “according to the true and perfect copy”. *Maybe* a pirate version would make such a boast, but an authorized authorial version would be *sure* to. So what’s the more probable of the two possibilities?
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A Paradox 7 years 2 months ago #946

sorensonian wrote:
... I think Shakespeare *was* interested in the publication of his works, ...

Yes, I don't think there's any good argument against that. His first success was Venus and Adonis, which was a publication of course, and he couldn't possibly have forgotten that. He had to know the value of publication, and not only for income, but to try to ensure his writing endured.
... and I think we know far too little about the circumstances to wholeheartedly reject the idea that he may have been personally involved in such publications. In fact, I cannot wrap my head around any other notion than that Shakespeare must have arranged or authorized the publication of the Q2 Hamlet himself. ...

I think it's also notable that the printing of Q2 does not include any statement that the play was performed anywhere, in that version. Q1 includes the statement that it was performed at Cambridge & Oxford, and elsewhere. But for Q2 there's nothing about any stage performance. The lack of a statement about stage performance doesn't prove anything, but it's suggestive that the Q2 manuscript was especially for publication.

Shakespeare's playing company would not have wanted to have a playscript printed that another company could use, as it stood. That would have been foolish, to provide other companies with a practical script, by publishing one. But if the playscript was enlarged so much that another company simply couldn't use the script, because of the sheer length, that would solve the problem. And especially, if the playscript were complex, so that other companies would have a hard time deciding where to cut it.

In the length of Q2, we could possibly be seeing Shakespeare's effort to make Hamlet alright for publication, by producing a version that can't be staged as it was printed, and keep other companies from using the publication as a script. Too long, and too complicated.

Mere speculation. But over the many years of companies trying to do the Q2/Folio version of the play, always having to cut it, and try to figure it out, they could possibly be encountering the exact problem Shakespeare intended other companies to have: a script that can't be performed as printed. That'd be funny, if playing companies trying to do the full Hamlet have been running up against a problem he fully intended other playing companies to have. I can't prove any such thing. An amusing idea, tho.

Also, I agree that "true and perfect copy" implies the manuscript came from the author's own hand. I don't think there's much chance Q2 was unauthorized by him.
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A Paradox 7 years 1 month ago #1223

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Willedever wrote:

Your notion of "rubbish" in the play only reveals that you are not able to read it, or have never seriously tried to.

Goodness - if this is an example of the depth of understanding you are able to achieve, little needs to be said about your other attempts at comprehending.

For what it is worth, not only have I read the play a number of times - I have seen a large number of performances (after all, it is a play - despite your nonsense of 'chamber work' - written for the stage).

Additionally, I have taught the work to 'A' Level standard as both a text in the English Literature Examination and the Theatre Studies Examination. (Most of the students passed by the way.)

I have also performed parts of the play (and will do so next week again) to a public, paying audience.

My notion of rubbish is what Shakespeare would have put in the bin - and the frequently printed text of this play contains a considerable quantity of material that would have been rejected by Shakespeare.
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A Paradox 7 years 1 month ago #1224

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sorensonian wrote:
Personally, I think that Shakespeare loved this play so much that he worked on it a lot, tweaking it and adding to it on several occasions, ending up making it too big for complete performance. But this does not negate the value of the material that would need to be cut for each individual performance. A different performance could cut some different material, and thus we have potentially many many different theatrical versions of the play, which is good. I think Shakespeare knew that this was his greatest work.

No argument with most of this - attempting to construct a meaning for this play is consequently impossible - it has many meanings because it is many different plays.
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A Paradox 7 years 1 month ago #1263

It has many meanings indeed. In fact, I have recently come to believe that Shakespeare deliberately *spelled* many key words ambiguously, so there could be even more possible meanings. Thus, there can never be a definitive version of exactly what he wrote.

However, having said that, I *still* believe that there is a single major meaning to the play. One that is steeped in a plethora of minor circumstantial and fluctuating meanings, but which still emerges "hugely politic", as it were. But this meaning has a more general quality, and should therefore not so much be looked for in individual words as in overall structure.
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