definitive drama the delayed vengeance is not explained—with the exception ofHamlet’s continuous doubts, and the effect of his “madness” is not to lull but to arouse the king’s suspicions. Shakespeare’s Hamlet also deals with the effect of a mother’s guilt on the son, but Shakespeare was unable to impose this motif upon the material of the old drama—and the modification is not sufficiently complete to be convincing. In several ways the play is puzzling, disquieting as none of the others is. Shakespeare left in unnecessary and incongruent scenes that ought to have been spotted on even the hastiest revision. Then there are unexplained scenes that would seem to derive from a reworking ofKyd’s original play perhaps by Chapman. In conclusion, Hamlet is a stratification ofmotifs that have not merged, and represents the efforts of different authors, where each one put his hand to the work of his predecessors. So, far from being Shakespeare’s masterpiece, the play is an artistic failure. “Both workmanship and thought are in an unstable condition …And probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a work of art. It is the Mona Lisa of literature.” —Umberto Eco, On The Shoulders OfGiants (Harvard University Press, 2019). [NOTE: Quote is from Elliot’s essay “Hamlet and His Problems.”] I have always known that there were spellbinding evil parts for women. For one thing, I was taken at an early age to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Never mind the Protestant work ethic of the dwarfs. Never mind the tedious housework-is-virtuous motif. Never mind the fact that Snow White is a vampire—anyone who lies in a glass coffin without decaying and then comes to life again must be. The truth is that I was paralysed by the scene in which the evil queen drinks the magic potion and changes her shape. What power, what untold possibilities! —Margaret Atwood, “Spotty-Handed Villainesses: Problems Of Female Bad Behaviour In The Creation Of Literature,” from a speech given “in various versions, here and there, in 1994.” When one goes at ideas directly, with hammer and tongs as it were, ideas tend to elude one in a poem. I think they only come back in when one pretends not to be paying any attention to them, like a cat that will rub against your leg. —John Ashbery, Interview with Daniel Kane, English 88 Reading List. When I write, I never re-write a sentence because for me my thought and my writing are one thing. It’s like breathing, I don’t re-breathe a breath... Volume 8 No 1 - Page 11

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