Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Man from the Consulate Fails to Get the Point

"From a certain sense, the play is ridiculous," he said.  "Hamlet is one of our worst historical figures, all Denmark is ashamed of him. A drunkard, a pagan, a liar, a seducer, a common murder, and disgusting in his personal habits.  This is all in Saxo Grammaticus.  The true hero of the time was the good King Claudius, a graceful and instructed man of state, I assure you, whose death led to a nasty invasion of Jutland by our Norwegian neighbors. Fortunately they did not stay long.  No, we are not proud of that revolting clown Hamlet, whose notions of humour consisted in imitating the sound of a rooster.  It is not as if his crimes and buffooneries had even the excuse of youth, for he was fifty years old when he embarked on his abominable career of dissimulation, treachery and murder.  Your English Shakespeare was sadly mistaken.
"A square-faced man in a a blue suit...who turned out to be from the Danish consulate," as  reported in John Glassco's Memoir of Montparnasse 63 (NYRB 2007).

Happy birthday, WS, who turns 447 today.

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