Thursday, October 22, 2015

All My "Hamlets"

In other words, here's some of the Hamlet-related stuff I've collected over the past 18 years.  I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the books and movies I've been talking about during this read-along.

First and foremost, my copies of the play's text:

The one on the very bottom is the one I'm using for the read-along.  The teensy one on the top was a gift from my friend Eva recently.  The one directly under it, with the sort of greyish cover, is the one I used in college when I both studied and taught this play.  Most of these I've bought used over the years -- the only ones I've bought new are the bottom one, the one for college, and one in the middle with a blue stripe that has Jude Law on the cover.

Why on earth do I have 16 copies of the text?  (Not counting the Charles and Mary Lamb retelling or the Cliffs Notes, which should have gone in a different photo.)  Because each one has interesting notes, commentaries, essays, and so forth, and I love seeing what other people have to say about this play and learning from them.  I have not read all of these yet!  I like to pull one out every now and then to learn something new.  I rarely let myself gorge on Hamlet the way I've been doing this month.

Then here are my illustrated retellings:

The only one I've read all the way through is the Manga version on top, which is gorgeous.  Just haven't gotten to the others yet.

Here are some books that are about the play, but don't contain the full text:

The top two are the ones I've been referencing a lot during the read-along, There is Nothing Like a Dane! is a humorous collection of anecdotes about playing the role on stage, and of course Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is a retelling in play form.  I haven't read I Am Hamlet yet.

See all those sticky notes in the top two books?

Those are marking all the places where they say things I think I might want to share with you during the read-alongs.  All the ones I haven't shared already, that is -- I pull them out when I'm finished with them.

And here's what I affectionately call "the doorstop."  I bought this on June 26, 1997, after reading several of Shakespeare's plays in a big book from the library and deciding I wanted my own copy.  I think I might have bought this while at the beach on a church youth group trip, actually.  This is the copy where I first read Hamlet.

And you can tell, by the fact that the binding is broken there and naturally opens straight to this play, that I re-read this copy several times between then and going to college the next year.

In fact... this whole play just comes right out of the book, along with King Lear.  That actually happened my senior year of college when I was taking a Shakespeare course and lugging this book around all semester -- we studied Lear and my binding gave up at that point.

Here's something I found tucked inside the back of that book:  notes I took the very first time I read the play!  

I didn't like having to flip back to the list of characters to remember who all these people with strange names were, so I copied them out and used this as a bookmark.  I did that with a bunch of other plays too -- I found those lists as well.  I also wrote down a bunch of favorite lines as I read.

Once I got to the "to be or not to be" soliloquy, you can see I just gave up jotting down favorite lines because I had too many -- I just wrote down the scene it was in and the page number and left it at that.

Anyway, here are all the movie versions I own:

I haven't yet watched Hamlet at Elsinore, which stars a young Christopher Plummer and is a recording of him in the role at the yearly Hamlet production in Elsinore itself.  Saving that one for a future treat.  I've only seen Legend of the Black Scorpion once, but the others I've watched three or more times each.  I shelve them in order of production, so they range from Burton's in the '60s to Tennant's in the '00s.

Finally, here are a couple things I have hanging on the walls in my library:

Those are both the full magazines, I didn't rip the covers off them.  One is a copy of Life from the '60s with a big interview with Richard Burton in it, and also some articles about Shakespeare in general.  The other is my Playbill from when I saw Hamlet performed live.  Since Burton and Law are two of my absolute favorite Hamlets, I like having them paired up on my wall this way.

And this is a print of Hamlet from Etsy shop Immortal Longings.  In it, reflected, you can kind of see two other prints I have on the opposite wall that are from the same shop, but of Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew instead.  (You can see those in this post on my other blog.)

I have a few other Hamlet-related things, but they're mostly just interesting to me, and this post is pretty long as it is, so we'll just quit here.


  1. WWWWOOOOOWWWW!!!! That's all I have to say.

    1. Ruth, um, yeah. I didn't even get into tote bags and t-shirts and jewelry and journals...

  2. Replies
    1. Naomi, well, "fan" is short for "fanatic," after all :-)

  3. I think many readers have that one piece of literature that really means something to them. Obviously, for you that is Hamlet. I am curious what first pulled you to it. Did you fall in love with it the first time you read it? Was it the language, a specific character, the story itself? I always wonder what makes people connect to their favorite book. It can say so much about them. I hope I don't sound nosy, I am just interested.

    1. Jennifer, it's so true! One of the greatest beauties of literature is how each of us can find at least one thing that really speaks to us.

      I love your questions. (I love just thinking and talking about Hamlet overall, hee.) I think that with my first reading, I loved the language most of all -- I only grasped the basics of the story, but the language was so pithy and beautiful it sucked me in. That and I craved to know and understand what was going on with this guy Hamlet.

      I was seventeen that first time through, and I remember loving that he was as confused by the world as I was, and as curious about it. He was even more bugged by how unfair the world was than I was -- I think I felt all that even if I didn't precisely put it into words. All that still fascinates me, still makes me like Hamlet and sometimes love him, even though now he also frustrates me sometimes.

      Now you have me curious -- what's your one piece of literature that really captures you?

    2. That would be Jane Austen in general and Pride and Prejudice in particular. I read it when I was very young and I think some of it was a bit over my head but I just loved the story. It amazed me that a book written so long ago could feel so modern. Elizabeth felt real to me. And it was funny. The classics could be funny, who knew?

      I loved the language and the wit and the world of other British novels it opened up to me. I became fascinated by Jane Austen and read every biography I could get my hands on.

      I think with Jane Austen began my love of books for the language, not just for the story.

    3. Jennifer, Austen is definitely someone whose works and life you can spend ages studying! And she's such a satisfying storyteller. My favorite of hers is Persuasion, and right now I'm working on a guest post about it for "Jane Austen Week" over at Wonderland Creek -- are you planning to join in the fun there? It starts Nov. 1!

    4. I actually think Persuasion might be my favorite, but Pride and Prejudice is my first love.

      A "Jane Austen Week" sounds interesting. I will have to check that out.

  4. It's neat to see that tiny copy of Hamlet on top of your ginormous pile, 'cause I've been so used to seeing it on my desk. :) And it's showing up in a picture on this blog. Coolness!

    1. Eva, yup, there it is! Usually it's on top of a pile of Hamlet copies on my bookshelf, in front of still more copies. It's so adorable!

  5. Wow- puts me to shame... I only own two copies of the book, and one movie (Kenneth Branagh's version).

    1. Lynn, that's probably a much more sane and manageable number :-)

  6. Woooww... Cool!
    I'm just visiting to see all Hamlet's posts I've missed. Too bad, as predicted, I couldn't join the read along. And now, I can't stop staring at your collections :D

    1. Bzee, well, there's plenty to stare at, huh? I've actually had a few busy days this week and need to get back on my blogging horse and get the next scene posted -- life just gets busy, doesn't it?


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