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Reception Theory

Britzolakis, Christina. " Speaking Daggers: T. S. Eliot, James Joyce and Hamlet." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. Hamlet Collection 1. New York: AMS, 1994. 227-47.

RECEPTION THEORY

This article uses "the readings of Hamlet by Eliot and Joyce as a starting-point for an exploration of the Modernist reassessment of the creative subject" (228). The modernist appropriation of Hamlet occurs during a period "in which the myth of the author comes under the strain of global imperialist crisis and the consequent dispersal and fragmentation of pre-war Europe" (229). Simultaneously, the Modernist author, like Hamlet, "is faced with a crisis of patriarchal authority" (231). Shakespeare's Prince, "tottering on the brink between 'order and disorder', becomes a talisman of civilizing culture against the dreaded spectre of a continent plunged into revolutionary chaos" (232). The contrasting "examples of Eliot and Joyce show that the European Hamlet's dilemma could be articulated in widely divergent ways, not only as a threat but also as a promise" (232). "Hamlet enables Eliot to legitimate, in terms of a certain reading of literary history, a reaction against the emotions, women and nature as a threat and a source of disgust" (237). In comparison, Joyce "is intent on exposing the fictional nature of paternity, and its dependence on the female body as the source of all life" (243). Hence, "the horror of female sexuality that Eliot derives from Hamlet is largely absent" in Joyce's Ulysses (244). In appropriating Hamlet, "the Modernism of Eliot and Joyce testifies to the breakdown of older, organic unities--of the subjective, of narrative, and of community--into fragments" (245).

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Dawson, Anthony B. Hamlet. Shakespeare in Performance. New York: Manchester UP, 1995.

PERFORMANCE / RECEPTION THEORY

This monograph provides “some sense of the performance history of Hamlet, differences among interpretations, and the multiplicity of possible ways of reading and enacting this most famous and slippery of plays” (3). Chapters are divided into periods of importance (e.g., post-WWII), transitions in theatrical styles (e.g., 1920’s), and innovations with performance mediums (e.g., film). A primary goal “is to suggest, however tentatively, some of the links that may exist between how the theatre gives Hamlet meaning and produces Hamlet’s subjectivity and how the culture generally approaches problems of meaning, value, and selfhood” (22). Although primarily confined “to the Anglo-American tradition of Hamlet performance, concentrating on those canonized performers who have a legendary relationship to Shakespeare’s most famous role,” this monograph utilizes its last chapter, “Translations,” to explore Hamlets on “‘foreign’ stages” (224).

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de Grazia, Margreta. “Hamlet Before Its Time.” Modern Language Quarterly 62.4 (Dec. 2001): 355-75.

HAMLET / RECEPTION THEORY

Focusing “precisely” on the period between 1600 and 1800, this article suggests that “what appears modern in Hamlet seems not to have been acquired at a later point in history [the modern period] but to have been present from the start” (356). From its initial performance on an Elizabethan stage, Hamlet was “behind the times,” “a recycling of an earlier play” (356) that “retained the most archaic feature of all: the ghost of Old Hamlet” (357). Hamlet “continued to appear old after 1660,” when Shakespeare’s plays “were considered more old-fashioned than those of Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Shirley” (358). But, rather than fade away, Shakespeare’s works “provided the perfect objects for the new art of criticism” (361). While critics blamed the playwright’s “neglect of the classics” (and his use of “the wrong sources”) for plot violations of the classical unities, they also maintained that his “shoddy plots were offset by his excellent characters” (362). When Romantic critics broke with the classical models, critical emphasis shifted from plot to character. An indirect result of this change included the “newfound autonomy” of Hamlet’s character (364). But the nagging question of Hamlet’s delay persisted, becoming “now a psychological rather than a dramaturgical problem” (365). One must wonder to what degree “his problematic interiority depends on the shift of delay from plot to character” (365). “Without being grounded in his own plot, he [Hamlet] accommodates whatever theory of mind, consciousness, or the unconscious can explain his inaction” (367). For example, Freud, Lacan, Abraham and Torok, and Derrida have all offered “new” theories to answer “a question framed two centuries ago” (373)—why does Hamlet delay? “The question keeps the play modern, for the modern by definition must always look new, up-to-date, or, better yet, a bit ahead of its time, and Hamlet—once abstracted from plot and absorbed in himself—remains open indefinitely to modernization” (374).

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Farley-Hills, David. Critical Responses to Hamlet, 1600-1900: Vol. 1: 1600-1790. Hamlet Collection 3. AMS P: New York, 1996.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC / RECEPTION THEORY

This collection of references to Hamlet includes manuscript notes, private epistolaries, literary allusions, unpublished scholarship (e.g., Ph. D. thesis), performance reviews, anonymous materials, diary entries, etc. Items are chronologically organized, and each is headed with an individual description of context and/or explanation of meaning. The volume's introduction refers to individual entries but also looks at the broad picture produced by this collage of Hamlet references. It discusses the history of criticism, which shifted from the study of the play on stage to the "neo-classical theory" of "application and adaptation of classical literary theory to contemporary conditions" (xix). This introduction charts the shifting attitudes of Hamlet audiences and of literary scholars.

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Farley-Hills, David. Critical Responses to Hamlet, 1600-1900: Vol. 2: 1790-1838. Hamlet Collection 4. AMS P: New York, 1996.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC / RECEPTION THEORY

This volume spans a broad spectrum of sources between 1790-1838. The collage of insights and opinions from "major critics of the day" and "lesser commentators" allows the volume "to show what is characteristic of the age and, among other things, throw light on the attitudes of the audiences and readers" (xiii). Because the goal is "to show how Hamlet was received by the English-speaking public during the period in question," the selection is composed of "texts that were widely available in the nineteenth century" (ix). But the inclusion of French and German interpretations of Hamlet represent the intricacies of Shakespearean criticism becoming "truly international" (xiv). [NOTE: see detailed description of format under listing of Vol. 1]

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Farley-Hills, David. Critical Responses to Hamlet, 1600-1900: Vol. 3: 1839-1854. Hamlet Collection 5. AMS P: New York, 1996.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC / RECEPTION THEORY

Spanning the years between 1839 and 1854, this volume is the first "in the series where foreign contributions in English outnumber the native British": "interest in Shakespeare was moving outwards from its British centre in ever widening circles" (ix). While French and American contributions are represented, German interpretations come "to be widely recognised during this period, and it is no exaggeration to say that in the second half of the nineteenth century British criticism of Shakespeare cannot be fully appreciated without taking the German influence into account" (xii). Rising conflicts over interpretations and the diversifying of critical styles also emerge during these years. [NOTE: see detailed description of format under listing of Vol. 1]

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Floyd-Wilson, Mary. “Ophelia and Femininity in the Eighteenth Century: “Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.” Women’s Studies 21 (1992): 397-409.

FEMINISM / NEW HISTORICISM / OPHELIA / RECEPTION THEORY

This article contends that “by the late eighteenth century, the era’s evolving notions of gender and the paradoxical effects of censorship actually infused representations of Ophelia with ‘erotic and discordant elements’” (397). Performance reviews and the script from William Davenant’s revival of Hamlet present the Prince as the ideal and honorable hero, Ophelia as the ideal woman, and their relationship as (the ideal) romance. Such changes from the original source are made possible through the deletion of dialogue: Laertes’ cautioning of Ophelia about Hamlet’s intentions, Polonius’ directing of Ophelia to withdraw from Hamlet’s suit, Ophelia’s replies to Hamlet’s sexual innuendoes, and Ophelia’s most bawdy lines in the mad scene. The final product is a sexually unaware and innocent Ophelia, but this shadow of Shakespeare’s character “combines the residual (though censored) sexual awareness of the Renaissance with an emerging ideal of the inherently pure and moral female” (402). Almost a century later, David Garrick introduced large production changes, including modifications to endow Ophelia with the “natural” feminine qualities valued in his own period: “passivity and emotionalism” (403). His Ophelia actor, Susannah Cibber, initiated the “femininity”’ in Ophelia. The contrasts between the two productions of Hamlet and the social periods suggest that the eighteenth century’s censorship “helped turn sex into a secret—
synonymous with truth—resulting in the modern desire to release it from its ‘repressive’ constraints” (407).

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Foakes, R. A. “The Reception of Hamlet.” Shakespeare Survey 45 (1993): 1-13.

HAMLET / RECEPTION THEORY

After identifying the negative connotations of Hamletism (e.g., melancholy, inaction), as “a far cry from the heroic Hamlet portrayed on the eighteenth-century stage,” and from Ophelia’s and Horatio’s complimentary descriptions of the Prince, this article traces “how and why this shift took place, and comment[s] in a preliminary way on its significance for interpreting Hamlet now” (2). “The idea of Hamletism as an attitude to life, a ‘philosophy’ as we casually put it, developed after the Romantics freed Hamlet the character from the play into an independent existence as a figure embodying nobility, or at least good intentions, but disabled from action by a sense of inadequacy, of failure, or a diseased consciousness capable only of seeing the world as possessed utterly by things rank and gross in nature” (12). Hamletism entered the “public arena” through “its use by poets like Freiligrath, Valéry or Yeats, novelists like Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, and James Joyce, and directors like Peter Hall, to characterize the condition of Germany, or Europe, or the world, or the decline of the aristocracy in the face of democracy, and above all to symbolize modern man” (12). But, “once set free from the play, Hamlet was not easily put back into it”—Hamletism was (8). The prosperous idea of Hamletism “came to affect the way the play was regarded, and the most widely accepted critical readings of it have for a long time presented us with a version of Shakespeare’s drama re-infected, so to speak, with the virus of Hamletism, and seen in its totality as a vision of failure in Man” (12). But failure and success “are narrow and inadequate terms . . . and to recover a fuller sense of the play, we need to put Hamlet back into it as fully as we can” (12).

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Hapgood, Robert. Hamlet Prince of Denmark. Shakespeare in Production. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.

PERFORMANCE / RECEPTION THEORY

Cross-referencing eye-witness accounts, performance reviews, promptbooks, rehearsal logs, as well as memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies of major actors and directors, the introduction to this Hamlet edition provides “a chronological survey of the main productions of Hamlet from Burbage to Branagh” (ix). Productions are examined “in a cultural context that includes developments in theatre history and literary analysis” (ix). Although the survey reflects the contemporary emphasis on the role of Hamlet, “the historical record is full enough to give as well a sense of whole productions” and the people involved (e.g., supporting actors, directors, designers) (ix). This seemingly-extensive study of Hamlet’s performance history introduces the play text, footnoted with staged theatrical variations of productions (e.g., cuts, additions, verbal annunciation, directions of directors).

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Holbrook, Peter. “Nietzsche’s Hamlet.” Shakespeare Survey 50 (1997): 171-86.

HAMLET / PHILOSOPHICAL / RECEPTION THEORY

While exploring “some of the ways Hamlet mattered to Nietzsche,” this essay suggests that he “seems to have used Hamlet to interpret his own life” and that “his views on revenge . . . illuminate a central issue on the play” (171). In Hamlet, Nietzsche discovers “a hero who finally achieves the ‘active forgetfulness’ essential for ‘psychic order’, and who helps explain his own life, which has meant the progressive detachment of himself from those people and places and tasks that took him away from himself, and yet which were, in the end, justified in so far as they made him what he is” (185). Hamlet also provides Nietzsche with “his most desired self-image: the modern affirming tragic philosopher, he who has seen through the fictions of the world to the bitter truth of its chaos and meaninglessness yet who in spite of that does not succumb to nihilism” (185). Nietzsche admires Hamlet’s “reluctance to have his task given him, for his life to lack its signature and become another’s (his father’s in his case)”: “It had been by not reacting to a great stimulus that he has achieved a self” (185). Seen “from the point of view of self-affirmation, the lives of both Hamlet and Nietzsche are meaningful because highly individualized” (186).

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Izubuchi, Hiroshi. “A Hamlet of Our Own: Some Japanese Adaptations.” Hamlet and Japan. Ed. Yoshiko Uéno. Hamlet Collection 2. New York: AMS, 1995. 187-203.

RECEPTION THEORY

This chapter studies Japanese “versions of Hamlet” (187): Naoya Shiga’s The Diary of Claudius, Osamu Dazai’s The New Hamlet, Shôhei Ôoka’s Hamlet’s Diary, Hideo Kobayashi’s The Testament of Ophelia, Sei Ito’s “Causerie on Shakespeare,” Mushitaro Oguri’s The Murder of Ophelia, and Juran Hisao’s Hamlet. Each literary work is discussed individually, with a plot summary that highlights similarities to and differences from Shakespeare’s Hamlet as well as with a brief literary biography on the authors. This study finds a repetitive emphasis on the father/son relationship that may be attributed to inherited qualities of the Elizabethan drama, or to the residual influence of “a unique watershed between feudal and modern Japan, when tyrannical patriarchy began to totter and when relations between fathers and sons became extremely tense”; “the relative absence of discussion of the problem of legitimate succession to the throne” may be due to “a Japanese taboo on discussion of the Court and statecraft” (187). The emphasis on “the domestic and familial” explains the aptness of the preferred genre for Japanese Hamlets, “the Japanese I-Novel, with the protagonist as narrator” (188). The shift towards the novel genre suggests “that the novel is the dominant literary genre for Japanese readers,” “that Japanese readers have become accustomed to the meditative and romantic Hamlet of the nineteenth century, and that such a Hamlet fits well into the novel form—or at least into the form of the Japanese I-Novel” (202).

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Lamb, Susan. “Applauding Shakespeare’s Ophelia in the Eighteenth Century: Sexual Desire, Politics, and the Good Woman.” Women as Sites of Culture: Women’s Roles in Cultural Formation From the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century. Ed. Susan Shifrin. Aldershot, Eng.: Ashgate, 2002. 105-23.

FEMINISM / OPHELIA / RECEPTION THEORY

Focusing upon Restoration and eighteenth-century treatments of Ophelia’s sexual nature, this study proposes that early Ophelias “reveal the dark side of the assumption that open expressions of sexual desire and freedom from oppression are one and the same thing”; they also “demonstrate the way in which an exclusive focus on women’s sexuality can in fact erase or obscure the place and influence of women in the public sphere” (106). According to the “surprisingly generous” “records concerning Ophelia in the long eighteenth century,” Ophelia “repeatedly appear[ed] on stage in the century’s most popular Shakespeare play,” and “she and characters based on her had a consistent place in the period’s critical commentary, poetry, novels, illustrations and paintings. Until the end of the eighteenth century, critics and adaptors alike considered her crucial to Hamlet and the most prominent actresses of the age [. . .] played the part (107). Although some critics argue that the deletion of Ophelia’s “bawdy lines” in stage performances reflects “a campaign to de-sexualize Ophelia because she is female,” “adaptors cut sexually explicit language in general, not just in the mouths of women,” and the “common practice in the eighteenth century [was] to gentrify Shakespeare’s more socially-elevated characters” (110). In addition, various unabridged “scholarly editions of Shakespeare’s works appeared in the eighteenth century and were eagerly consumed by the public,” allowing theatergoers to imagine lines missing during Hamlet performances (112). As for Ophelia’s sexuality, eighteenth-century medical and social attitudes held that “a love-mad woman’s sexual desire was not what was considered sick about her”; the “lack of gratification rather than the desire itself caused the insanity”; a “madwoman,” such as Ophelia, “loved according to the strictest rules of propriety and virtue” (108). “Ophelia and Ophelia figures” actually liberated “writers, painters and actresses” from strict social “paradigms,” enabling “what the period thought to be natural, virtuous, and virginal desire in a woman to be visible to spectators” (117). But in focusing on her sexuality, the period’s “readers, writers, performers, painters, audiences and critics [. . .] suppressed the political, familial, and social ramifications of the original character’s madness” (117). “It is not woman’s sexual desire but the place of women in the social and political web that is problematic. Ophelia’s position as the daughter of a powerful courtier, the lover of the Prince who kills her father, the sister of a man with considerable political power, and as a woman whose speech in madness has political implications for her hearers is lost in what has become a long-term focus on her sexuality” (117).

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Matsuoka, Kazuko. “Metamorphosis of Hamlet in Tokyo.” Hamlet and Japan. Ed. Yoshiko Uéno. Hamlet Collection 2. New York: AMS, 1995. 227-37.

AUDIENCE RESPONSE / RECEPTION THEORY

Initially discussing Bergman’s Hamlet in Tokyo and other “daring, new interpretations of the play,” this essay attempts to explain why Japan “has had a long love-affair with Hamlet” (229). One explanation is that this tragedy possesses the most “references to foreign countries closely related to the plot and the life situations of the characters” in the Shakespearean canon, creating “an open basis” that fosters adoption/adaptation (232). Also, Hamlet’s “peculiarly modern sense of powerlessness” (232) may draw Japanese audiences because they feel powerless due to the bombardment of “the world’s troubles” through information networks (233). Also, the increasing life-span in Japan allows the older generation to retain (and to withhold) power from the younger generation (233). The modern Japanese people may see themselves “in Shakespeare’s image of a thirty-year-old ‘eternal’ prince” (233).

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Murakami, Takeshi. “Shakespeare and Hamlet in Japan: A Chronological Overview.” Hamlet and Japan. Ed. Yoshiko Uéno. Hamlet Collection 2. New York: AMS, 1995. 239-303.

RECEPTION THEORY

Because “the work of Shakespeare had a decisive influence on the development of Japanese drama,” this anthology chapter traces “the history of the reception of Shakespeare (and especially Hamlet) in modern Japan” (239). The chronological frame is based on the Gregorian calendar and the five periods of Japan’s modern history: Meiji Era, Taishô Era, Shôwa Era I, Shôwa Era II, Heisei Era. Although “a complete, comprehensive listing would be almost impossible,” this chapter records “as many performances of Hamlet as possible, including revivals, adaptations, ballet and modern dance versions, operas, etc.” (240).

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Pfister, Manfred. "Hamlet Made in Germany, East and West." International Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Ed. Patricia Kennan and Mariangela Tempera. Renaissance Revisited 2. Bologna: CLUEB, 1996. 75-93.

RECEPTION THEORY

This essay contends that Germany's Hamlet provides "a screen on which to project the changing constructions of German national identity" (78). After World War II, the literal and figurative construction of a wall in Germany created a rift within this identity: "to the extent that the two German cultures began to distinguish themselves one from the other, they also began to stake rival claims upon Shakespeare and Hamlet" (79). This article charts the divergences of the GDR- and FRG-Hamlets during this period of division but concludes that "the new All-German Hamlet" "exists already, at least to the degree that the East and West German Hamlets of the eighties have begun to converge" (89).

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Portillo, Rafael, and Mercedes Salvador. “Spanish Productions of Hamlet in the Twentieth Century.” Four Hundred Years of Shakespeare in Europe. Ed. A Luis Pujante and Ton Hoenselaars. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2003. 180-95.

PERFORMANCE HISTORY / RECEPTION THEORY

This essay outlines the history of Hamlet (performance and print translations) in Spain, beginning with the first stage production (Ramón de la Cruz’s in October 1772) through to the last Spanish production of the twentieth century, “Teatre Lliure” (by Joan Sallent, July 1999). Although “Hamlet first became important in the Spanish theater repertoire in the late nineteenth century, once the romantic mood was finally accepted,” “there is, as yet, no distinct national tradition in its stage representation, as companies have mostly relied on what has been done abroad. In fact, they imitate French and Italian adaptations first, then British, German, or even American productions, and eventually, film versions of the play, especially Olivier’s” (192). “Hamlet is not yet Shakespeare’s most popular play in Spain, perhaps because both plot and characters are still relatively alien to Spanish taste and culture. This would explain the continuous rewriting of the original text” (193). Another objection “that Spanish theater companies may have had to the play was that its female roles were not important enough, at least, when compared with that of Prince Hamlet”; hence, some leading actresses (e.g., Torres, Xirgu, Espert) have “dared to play the title role,” despite the occasional “hostile criticism. Since the role of women in theater circles is substantial now, it is not unlikely that an all-female cast Hamlet will be seen in one of the Spanish professional playhouses in the near future” (193).

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Siegel, Paul N. “‘Hamlet, revenge!’: The Uses and Abuses of Historical Criticism.” Shakespeare Survey 45 (1993): 15-26.

NEW HISTORICISM / RECEPTION THEORY

This article surveys “the major historical criticism on the subject of Hamlet’s revenge and on such ancillary matters as the reasons for Hamlet’s delay, the nature of the ghost, and the significance of the play’s conclusion” (15). The works of Stoll, Bowers, Campbell, Prosser, Babb, Bradley, Dover Wilson, Mercer, Frye, McGee, and others represent the “fray on the critical battlefield” and show “interpretations advanced and disputed, errors made and refuted” (15). Although abused at times, the use of historicism in literary studies “has contributed to a growing weight of opinion . . . that has corrected opinions of the past” (25).

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Takahashi, Yasunari. “Hamlet and the Anxiety of Modern Japan.” Shakespeare Survey 48 (1995): 99-11.

NEW HISTORICISM / PERFORMANCE / RECEPTION THEORY

This essay traces the history of Hamlet’s reception in Japan: “the whole labour of assimilating Hamlet, from the beginning down to the present day, could be seen as the mirror up to the nature of Japan’s modernization since 1868” (101). With a “grand rationale of modernization-as-westernization,” Japan was eager to appropriate works like Hamlet (100-01). But such a transplanting required “acclimatization” of the play and kabuki, the traditional Japanese theater (100). For example, in the first Tokyo production of Hamlet (1903), all soliloquies were cut because the expression-of-inner-thought style “was something unknown to kabuki,” and the tradition of onnagata (only male actors on stage) was challenged by a female’s playing the role of Ophelia (104). In 1907, Shoyo Tsubouchi attempted a more accurate production (e.g., Western costumes, original character names, “To be” soliloquy), “using a translated (not adapted) text,” but his “sensibility had been nurtured too deeply by the old kabuki tradition to allow him to be ‘absolutely modern’” (106). His second attempt in 1911 similarly failed. While his later production marked the end of adaptation and “the beginning of an age of faithful translation,” it also confirmed “the impression that Shakespeare was ‘old-fashioned’” (107). Shakespeare was replaced by Ibsen and other European avant garde playwrights, while “shingeki, or ‘new drama’ (in Western-style)” was displacing “forms of traditional drama” (107). Between 1913-1926, the play “ceased to be the battleground of creative experiment in theatre” (107). Part of this stalling resulted from the perception of Hamlet as “the ‘safest’ play to avoid being targeted by the secret service police” (107-08). After the war, Hamlet made “a comeback to the forefront of the theatrical scene”: Tsuneari Fukuda’s 1955 production “was a two-fold critique of the limitation of shingeki and, more broadly, of the modernity of Japanese culture” (107). Currently, Japanese dramatists (e.g., Ninagawa, Suzuki) liberally strive to “make Shakespeare feel contemporary” (109). Until “the anxiety of modernity has been overcome by the ‘ludic’ spirit of post-modernity,” new Hamlets “must and will keep emerging, embodying the perennial and specific anxieties of contemporary self” (111).

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Trivedi, Poonam. “‘Play[ing]’s the thing’: Hamlet on the Indian Stage.” Hamlet Studies 24 (2002): 56-80.

PERFORMANCE HISTORY / RECEPTION THEORY

In addition to providing a detailed listing of Hamlet productions in India between 1775 and 2001 (75-78), this article proposes that the “play[ing] of Hamlet [. . .] is the thing wherein [. . .] to catch the conscience of the Indian stage” (56-57). “Indians came to know Shakespeare first through the English language [. . .]” (57), on stage and “via academia” (59). In this “earliest period (1850-1890), Hamlet was seen as the disempowered man paralysed into inaction” (58); Hamlet, “in translation and on stage is more central to the ethos of this period which is of an interaction with the West” (57). “Political implications may also be seen in the second, assimilative and universalizing phase of Shakespeare performance in India. Now we see the Indian literary and theatrical languages attempting to measure up to the might of the master. Three well known versions of Hamlet in Marathi, Bengali and Tamil respectively are representative of this period” (63). During “the middle phase (1890-1920)” Hamlet “became the prince burdened by the duty of righteous revenge” (58). “After the 1920s with the rise of nationalism there was a marked decline in the translation and performance of Shakespeare, and more so of Hamlet, the more quintessentially Western thought-provoking play” (67). “After independence there was a resurgence interest in Shakespeare translation and performance” (68). The “productions of Hamlet have been fewer than those of either Othello, Macbeth or Lear, but more acutely representative of their times” (68). During this period, Hamlet “has represented successively, the sensitive Dane, a misfit, an emblem of existential, social and political angst and a seeker after truth” (58). In “the new post-colonial experimental climate attempts have been made to make Hamlet more truly our own” (70). While this “sampling of the fortunes of Hamlet on the diverse stages of India over more than two centuries reveals a protean range of incarnation” (e.g., canonical, populist, translated, indigenized, adapted, appropriated, deconstructed), it also suggests “that it is Hamlet, not Othello—as is usually held—which presents a site for critical and political intervention both in the colonial and post-colonial periods” (74).

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Wiggins, Martin. "Hamlet Within the Prince." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. Hamlet Collection 1. New York: AMS, 1994. 209-26.

HAMLET / RECEPTION THEORY

After identifying the weaknesses in readings of Hamlet by psychoanalysts (e.g., Freud, Jones) and distinguishing dramatic characters from actual human beings, this article charges that "if there are mysterious depths to be sounded in Hamlet, the text itself must refer us to them"-not a knowledge of the Oedipus complex (215). For example, psychoanalytic critics devote a great deal of energy to accounting for Hamlet's delay; but Hamlet directly states his motive when he finds Claudius at prayer: the villain deserves to go to hell (3.3.93-95). Dating back to the 1750's, critics have struggled with a hero voicing plans for a person's damnation. The speech has been censored, denied, and omitted, but disbelieving Hamlet's own words "lies at the root of the internalizing urge in critical readings of the character" (218). Those "who internalize the action of Hamlet are not in fact discussing Shakespeare's play at all, but a palimpsest created through repression in the middle of the eighteenth century, a palimpsest that was subsequently digested and transmitted into the folklore of the play" (220).

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Wiszniowska, Marta. "Hamlet in Poland-Poland in Hamlet." International Shakespeare: The Tragedies. Ed. Patricia Kennan and Mariangela Tempera. Renaissance Revisited 2. Bologna: CLUEB, 1996. 113-25.

RECEPTION THEORY

This essay aims "to present some of the extraordinary developments in the ways in which Hamlet had been appropriated in post war Poland" (113). The study begins with the performance critic Jan Kott's "assessment of Hamlet as a political play" after the XXth Congress (115). The process of appropriation continues when Witold Chwalewik links Hamlet with Poland's national history (115) and excavates "Polish traits in Hamlet" (116). For example, Chwalewik posits a Polish Ur-Hamlet. With the "upheavals" in Europe and bans of 1968 (117), Bohdan Drozdowski's Hamlet 70 seems a "retaliation," a rewriting of Shakespeare's play "to suit topical issues" (118). Ivo Brešan uses a different approach in his adaptation: "The play's topic remains unchanged and is merely embedded in contemporary burlesque" (121); but the play is set in socialist Crotia and the "ending is even more pessimistic" than the Shakespearean original's (122). In viewing "post-war Hamlets in Poland, one realizes how the circumstances of reception have contributed to their turning political or aesthetic" (123).

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Young, Alan R. “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Visual Representations of the Graveyard Scene in Hamlet.” Stage Directions in Hamlet: New Essays and New Directions. Ed. Hardin L. Aasand. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003. 189-213.

RECEPTION THEORY

This article presents a “brief survey of some selected examples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works that depict Hamlet holding Yorick’s skull,” revealing “just how rich the visual tradition is” (210). “Though sometimes influenced by contemporary theater practice and/or the implied actions called for in Shakespeare’s texts of Hamlet, often the visual artist will go much further and explore other possibilities that provide far broader scope for interpretive representation”; subsequently, “any study of the critical reception of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries ought to take into account not just verbal responses but also the very different language of the visual artists” (210).

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Zimmermann, Heiner O. "Is Hamlet Germany? On the Political Reception of Hamlet." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. Hamlet Collection 1. New York: AMS, 1994. 293-318.

HAMLET / RECEPTION THEORY

This essay examines the "appropriation or, rather, the national German 'expropriation' of Hamlet . . . as an example to show how thoroughly the recipient's historical position and interests can predetermine the meaning distilled from a text, and how far the history of the reception of a text in another culture can acquire an autonomous momentum" (293). When Germans discovered Hamlet in the 1790's, they identified with its protagonist and established the play's mythic importance (293). Since then, the German audiences have alternated between love and hate of the Danish Prince. But by "finding ever new ways of recognizing themselves in Hamlet, the Germans made their understanding of him a pattern of their national comprehension of themselves in crucial historical situations over the last two centuries" (293).

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Contact the author at h.blankenship@hamlethaven.com