Amleth Rules OK

There is a question-formulating activity we have been doing in one of my courses. Annoying though it is, it occurred to me that it is actually a good way to formulate ideas and get the brain working, so I bow to superior wisdom on that one. (Those who know me well will be astonished, I am sure.) I sat down and came up with a list for tonight’s blog post, and wanted to write about readers, and how many of them become writers, and when one can call oneself “a reader” and all that nonsense, but then I realised it was 10pm and that involved far too much thought and potential research so I am shelving it and instead I am going to babble a bit.

I’m reading Hamlet right now, but I don’t think I’ll review it… It seems wrong, somehow. I don’t know enough about plays, anyway. However, my edition did include 135 pages of introduction, and through this I have learnt of the story of Amleth, which is like Hamlet only better in basically every way. It reminded me a little of the Saga of Ref the Sly. Amleth’s father is murdered by his uncle, who marries his mother. Amleth pretends to have gone mad, and thus manages to kill his uncle, marry a hot English broad, and be a badass Viking for a couple of decades. Great shit, sign me up! I have to admit that while reading I have every so often wished that I was reading Amleth instead. Less whining would certainly be involved.

Yes, I started reading Hamlet in rather the wrong mood. I was far too irritable, and Hamlet’s immediate “oh GOD, I just want to DIE” did not chime as a beautiful and heartfelt whatever, but rather made me want to throw the book across the room. I did not expect to immediately identify with Claudius! But the poetry is beautiful, so I felt impolite for reading it when I was in such a mood, and I had to leave off until I could better appreciate it. (Thankfully I still have about 115 pages of introduction to read, for whenever I start to get annoyed.)

It had been maybe more than a decade since I’d read Shakespeare. He reads a lot more easily now than he did then, I must confess, thought I’m not sure what it is I’ve been reading since then to make it easier on me. Maybe I was just never really paying that much attention. I do have to say that they overdid it on the footnotes a bit. They take up more of the page than the text. I’m constantly looking down to see if there’s some subtext that I need explained for me, but often it’s just playing dictionary, which is unnecessary more often than not.

I enjoyed Twelfth Night. Midsummer Night’s Dream was OK, nothing all that memorable. King Lear never really did it for me. Hamlet, of course, is meant to be that towering work of genius, although if I’m to trust the footnotes of this edition, I’m not sure Shakespeare spent all that much time editing it. He’s gotten himself all twisted up in his own verse a couple of times and I’m only in the first act. I like his neologisms, actually – it’s like the word he wanted to use had the wrong number of syllables so he had to invent a new one. It’s cute.

My life lately has been mostly reading and fitting in a run when I have time between downpours. It feels like it’s been raining forever. But spring is near at hand – the birds know it, at least – and we’ll be halfway through the semester before you know it. (Speaking of which, I am still not sure how I feel about this whole mornings thing.) Much of the coursework so far has been reading, which feels odd, in a way. Sitting down with a novel in the sun and telling yourself you’re doing homework – even with Emma, which I found a chore, it seems a little deliciously like cheating the system somehow.

Of course, eventually I’ll need to write an essay.

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