"but the desirable life is revealed only to the poor of heart, the life of Homer's Phaeacians.
From these words Mr Best turned an unoffending face to Stephen.
— Mallarmé, don't you know, he said, has written those wonderful prose poems Stephen MacKenna used to read to me in Paris. The one about Hamlet. He says: il se promène, lisant au livre de lui-même, don't you know, reading the book of himself." (U9.109)
"He describes Hamlet given in a French town, don't you know, a provincial town. They advertised it." (U9.115)
"His free hand graciously wrote tiny signs in air.
Pièce de Shakespeare
He repeated to John Eglinton's newgathered frown:
— Pièce de Shakespeare, don't you know. It's so French. The French point of view. Hamlet ou...
— The absentminded beggar, Stephen ended.
John Eglinton laughed.
— Yes, I suppose it would be, he said. Excellent people, no doubt, but distressingly shortsighted in some matters." (U9.117)
"Sumptuous and stagnant exaggeration of murder.
- A deathsman of the soul Robert Greene called him, Stephen said. Not for nothing was he a butcher's son, wielding the sledded poleaxe and spitting in his palms. Nine lives are taken off for his father's one." (U9.129)
Here is the body count in Hamlet:
1. Polonius - stabbed by Hamlet
2. Ophelia - drowns
3. Laertes - stabbed (with his own poisoned sword) by Hamlet
4. King Claudius - Hamlet stabs him then pours poison down his throat
5. Queen Gertrude - drinks from a poisoned cup
6. Hamlet - stabbed by Laertes with a poisoned weapon
7-8. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern - arrive in England with orders to be killed.
"Our Father who art in purgatory. Khaki Hamlets don't hesitate to shoot. The bloodboltered shambles in act five is a forecast of the concentration camp sung by Mr Swinburne." (U9.132)
"Cranly, I his mute orderly, following battles from afar.
Whelps and dams of murderous foes whom none
But we had spared...
Between the Saxon smile and yankee yawp." (U9.136)
"The devil and the deep sea." (U9.139)
"- He will have it that Hamlet is a ghoststory, John Eglinton said for Mr Best's behoof. Like the fat boy in Pickwick he wants to make our flesh creep.
List! List! O list!
My flesh hears him: creeping, hears.
If thou didst ever...
- What is a ghost? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners." (U9.141)
"Elizabethan London lay as far from Stratford as corrupt Paris lies from virgin Dublin." (U9.149)
Stratford on the river Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare (ca.1564-1616). This PC shows the Memorial Theatre, built 1879 by William Frederick Unsworth to celebrate the great poet and dramatist. The building comprises a theatre, library, picture gallery and large central tower from the summit of which a fine general view of the town is obtained. It was destroyed by a fire in 1926.
"Who is the ghost from limbo patrum, returning to the world that has forgotten him? Who is king Hamlet?
John Eglinton shifted his spare body, leaning back to judge.
"- It is this hour of a day in mid June, Stephen said, begging with a swift glance their hearing. The flag is up on the playhouse by the bankside. The bear Sackerson growls in the pit near it, Paris garden." (U9.154)
"Canvasclimbers who sailed with Drake chew their sausages among the groundlings.
Local colour. Work in all you know. Make them accomplices." (U9.156)
"-Shakespeare has left the huguenot's house in Silver street and walks by the swanmews along the riverbank. But he does not stay to feed the pen chivying her game of cygnets towards the rushes. The swan of Avon has other thoughts." (U9.159)
In early 1602 Shakespeare was living north of the Avon river. A court case shows he was lodging with the Mountjoy family in a house on the corner of Silver street and Monkwell street.
""Composition of place. Ignatius Loyola, make haste to help me!" (U9.163)
"The play begins. A player comes on under the shadow, made up in the castoff mail of a court buck, a wellset man with a bass voice. It is the ghost, the king, a king and no king, and the player is Shakespeare who has studied Hamlet all the years of his life which were not vanity in order to play the part of the spectre. He speaks the words to Burbage, the young player who stands before him beyond the rack of cerecloth, calling him by a name:
Hamlet, I am thy father's spirit
bidding him list. To a son he speaks, the son of his soul, the prince, young Hamlet and to the son of his body, Hamnet Shakespeare, who has died in Stratford that his namesake may live for ever." (U9.164)