What Happens in Hamlet Hardcover – 1 Jan 1951
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John Dover Wilson's What Happens in Hamlet is a classic of Shakespeare criticism. The author critiques as well as brings out the significance of each part of the play. His analysis emphasises Shakespeare's dramatic art and shows how the play must be seen and heard to be understood. This is a readable, entertaining and scholarly book.
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Having studied the play, reading many commentaries on it prior to directing it, I found Grabanier's book to be generally (not always) on target, where Wilson's left me very unsatisfied. Read both, and make up your own mind.
I highly recommend this book.
Wilson presents the play's problems and difficulties (the matter of the ghost, for example) and provides historical context.
He examines awkward moments and explains them, using common sense and a broad knowledge of theatrical convention.
Although Wilson discusses Hamlet as it unfolds, the book can be opened to almost any page and enjoyed.
We learn about Elizabethan spiritualism and what Shakespeare's contemporaries would have thought about Germany and Denmark and marriage and the rights of kings.
Wilson's breadth of scholarship is never in doubt, nor is his enthusiasm for his subject.
Reading What Happens in Hamlet is like listening to an older, wiser, and most considerate friend.