Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I've almost just read a book, a really quite brilliant book, about Shakespeare. Which is exceedingly unusual for me as I'm not the world's biggest fan of, you know, proper books. But this one I gulped down.

I know very little of Shakespeare. Beyond the fact that he carries a feather and lacks hair in the middle of his head. So this book was very informative. (In fact, I'm not going to tell you the title because I'm probably going to buy it for you both for Christmas.)

But one portion which leapt out at me compared and contrasted surviving versions of one of the speeches from one of his plays. Hamlet. He wrote a version. And then a whole bundle of other people tried to seize a piece of the pie by publishing their versions of his art and darkly mangling the finery as they did so.

So we have Mr Shakes:

To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them; to die to sleep
No more, and by a sleep, to say we end 
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks 
That flesh is heir to - 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

Then we have the imposter publishing this:

To be, or not to be. Ay, that's the point. 
To die, to sleep, is that all? Aye, all. 
No, to sleep, to dream, aye, marry, there it goes,
For in that dream of death, when we awake
And borne again before an everlasting judge,
From whence no passenger ever returned,
The undiscovered country, at whose sight
The happy smile, and the accursed damned.
But for this, the joyful hope of this,
Who'd bear the scorns and flattery of the world
Scorned by the right rich, the rich cursed of the poor?

Thank god for Shakespeare, eh?


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