Lars Kaaber is a Danish writer, an award-winning playwright, and a theatre director with sixty-five productions to his credit. His stagings of Shakespeare include Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night and As You Like It. He also directed an international production of Rossini’s opera Othello, and Shakespeare consultant on Dogme film IV, The King is Alive. Lars Kaaber holds an M.A. in English from the University of Copenhagen and lectures on Shakespeare and Elizabethan Theatre. His awards include the Katapult Script Prize in Aarhus, First Prize in The Danish Actors Guild Script Competition and the Dramatist Award of Frederiksborg.
2005 0-7734-6117-5 The aim of this study is to investigate the original text and background of Shakespeare’s Hamlet by separating the play from four hundred years of accumulated layers of theatrical and critical tradition. The outstanding popularity of the tragedy has caused the text to be altered according to the particular tastes and morals of various ages; the critical distortion occurred most notably in the Romantic Period (with Goethe, Coleridge and Hazllitt) and was perpetuated by performers of the Victorian Age and beyond. Even when cuts and changes have gradually been abandoned in favour of Shakespeare’s original text, tradition has proceeded to present, by and large, the Romantic Hamlet of the nineteenth century and an infallible protagonist strangely at odds with the rest of the Shakespeare cannon, as Joseph Hunter observed in 1845 when he said of the play that it was ‘quite at variance with the ordinary modes of thinking of its author’. In 1930, Wilson Knight stated that the price of sentimentalizing Hamlet is our failure to understand him. For the benefit of scholars as well as theatre people, this investigative study of the text and tradition of Hamlet hopes to demonstrate that Shakespeare’s original play and its hero were much less of a mystery than commonly perceived today.