A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 13 July 2012

Shakespeare In A Nutshell

I don't know about you, but I like to familiarise myself a little with the plot and the characters before going to see a Shakespeare play. Two of the ways I do this is by reading beforehand a potted version of the play in either Charles and Mary Lambs' Tales From Shakespeare or James Muirden's Shakespeare In A Nutshell. Compare and contrast!

Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark

Gertrude, queen of Denmark, becoming a widow by the sudden death of King Hamlet, in less than two months after his death married his brother Claudius, which was noted by all people at the time for a strange act of indiscretion, or unfeelingness, or worse: for this Claudius did no ways resemble her late husband in the qualities of his person or his mind, but was as contemptible in outward appearance, as he was base and unworthy in disposition; and suspicions did not fail to arise in the minds of some, that he had privately made away with his brother, the late king, with the view of marrying his widow, and ascending the throne of Denmark, to the exclusion of young Hamlet, the son of the buried king, and lawful successor to the throne...

Charles and Mary Lamb Tales From Shakespeare

Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark

Prince Hamlet's suffering from stress.
The reason isn't hard to guess:
Four weeks after his father died
A second marriage knot was tied
To join his freshly widowed mother
With Claudius, her husband's brother.
At Elsinore, by Denmark Sound,
The dead king's spirit wanders round,
Upsetting sentries at their post,
So they've complained about the ghost
To sceptical Horatio,
Who sees it, and lets Hamlet know.
The phantom warns the gob-smacked son:
'Your uncle is the guilty one.
During my after-dinner snooze
(Occasioned by excess of booze)
He seized his chance to sneak up near
And pour some poison in my ear.
Now stop your dithering about,
And go and sort the fellow out...'

James Muirden Shakespeare In A Nutshell

(Click here for the daily Turnstone quote.)


George said...

On seeing the title of this post, my first reaction was that it would be nice to find a small volume on "Life In A Nutshell." It then occurred to me that "Shakespeare in a Nutshell" would be completely adequate, for there are few things about life that have not been definitively addressed by the Bard.

Suman said...

I have a very tattered version of the Lambs' version. It dates back to the times when my father was studying for his Literature Honours. So I owe my primary Shakespeare education to the brother and sister duo. :-)

The Weaver of Grass said...

I immediately thought of Lambs Tales when I read your heading Robert.

Dominic Rivron said...

Those verses sound like they come from the Nutwood production of Hamlet. There's a thought! The Rupert Shakespeare...

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, George, all of human life is contained in those 37 plays...

Suman, it's so useful to get a handle on what's going on by skimming through the Lamb, isn't it...

Hi, Pat... and Dominic, did you ever hear of the Squirrel Nutkin production? That's from the Beatrix Potter Shakespeare.

KleinsteMotte said...

How little the human race has changed since then.