Report of Aesthetic Realism class
by Lynette Abel
Then, using an annotated 18th Century
edition of Hamlet Mr. Siegel explained, “I’m not going to read the
play as such. I’m going to begin with the notes for casualness. Every
passage I do read, he said, will be incidental to an 18th-Century observation.”
Critics have been
very much puzzled by the Ghost right from the beginning. “The main point,”
said Mr. Siegel “ is whether Hamlet’s father was troubled himself.
Why is the Ghost in such a hurry? It seems he was uncertain of himself.”
The critic Warton in a note says the vanishing of the Ghost “is like a
start of guilt.” “This backs up Aesthetic Realism” commented Mr.
Siegel. “Hamlet’s father was not so good—he was better than his brother
maybe but that isn’t saying much.” Then reading from the famous scene in
which Hamlet speaks to his father, as Ghost, Mr. Siegel commented,” This
is one of the passages Hamlet: Revisited sees as rather humorous.”
I read from it now:
Ghost. List, list,
“In my raffish, profane fashion,” commented Mr.
Siegel “I think these words show some mocking. If the wings are as
swift as meditation, it is not fast. And thoughts of love are usually
slow. ‘What does Rita really think of me?’ I regard this as funny
as The Importance of Being Ernest. And he read Warburton’s
note on the word meditation:
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
Hamlet. O god!
Ghost. Revenge his foul
and most unnatural murder.
Ghost. Murder most foul,
as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Hamlet. Hast me to know’t
that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
“This word is consecrated by the
mystics to signify that flight of mind which aspires to the enjoyment of
the supreme good.”
“Any mystic that’s in a hurry," Mr. Siegel
commented, "would be kicked out.” The critic Steevens points out that there
is no other ghost that compares to this ghost. “It happens,” said Mr. Siegel
“the Ghost in Hamlet, in terms of the supernatural, is the best
of its kind.”
It was pointed out that all of Shakespeare’s
plays are interesting because of the problems they show. “The wonderful
thing about Hamlet,” noted Mr. Siegel “is that while it has these
problems, it is so everlastingly poetic. While people are being dramatic,
the clash and clang of words, verbs, nouns and conjunctions and syllables
are being dramatic too.” This class was a great instance of literary
criticism. Like the world itself, it was casual and profound.
beginning of "Shakespeare's Interesting"
Shakespeare's Hamlet: Revisited by Eli Siegel