Thursday, April 14, 2005


"Most certainly an artistic failure." All argument is for that conclusion--until you read or see Hamlet again. And when you do, you are left saying that if this is failure, then failure is better than success. We want more of these "bad" plays. From our first childish reading of the ghost scenes down to those golden minutes which we stole from marking examination papers on Hamlet to read a few pages of Hamlet itself, have we ever known the day or the hour when its enchantment failed?...It has a taste of its own, an all-pervading relish which we recognize even in its smallest fragments, and which, once tasted, we recur to. When we want that taste, no other book will do instead.
~C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays, "Hamlet: The Prince or the Poem?" (1942)

I believe that we read Hamlet's speeches with interest chiefly because they describe so well a certain spiritual region through which most of us have passed and anyone in his circumstances might be expected to pass.

...The real and lasting mystery of our human situation has been greatly depicted.
~C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays, "Hamlet: The Prince or the Poem?" (1942)

On this day:

1960 C.S. Lewis returned with his wife Joy to England after their tour of Greece.

Guilty pleasure link of the day: Hamlet (Prose adaptation--parallel with original text)

2 Comment(s):

At Thu Apr 14, 09:06:00 PM EST, Blogger Bob said...

I don't know that I completely agree with Lewis' estimation of Hamlet. I never thought it was a failure. It's my favourite of all the Shakespeare plays.

Your guilty pleasure link: Anathema! That's like a muzak version of Mozart's Requiem.

At Wed Dec 14, 04:34:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lewis was addressing an analysis of Hamlet made by T.S. Eliot. Lewis' statements following the quotation are what he feels in response to Eliot's attack.


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