So Nate and I were able to visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre while we were in London, and it was a total English major nerd fantasy for me. It was so amazing to see the re-creation of the theater where the majority of Shakespeare’s plays were performed, to see where word was brought to life in a way that has shaped the English language immeasurably and continues to pervade modern culture… but don’t even get me started on that, because I could pontificate on that particular topic for days. While we were at the Globe, I found the most amazing illustrated edition of Hamlet ever and couldn’t resist buying it.
I first read Hamlet in AP English my senior year of high school, and thus began my love affair with Shakespeare; I read it again in a Shakespeare class my senior year of college, and even though we read nine other Shakespeare plays that quarter that I also fell in love with, Hamlet remained, and still remains, my favorite. I always think of Seth Cohen on The O.C. asserting that Kierkegaard invented teen angst, but I would posit that Hamlet is the forefather by a mile. There’s incredible commentary in the text on responsibility, identity and the internal struggle over action or passivity… you know, all the things that plague those fragile souls we call adolescents. It’s brilliant.
When I saw this edition, the illustrations were what stood out to me most: they were first done by John Austen in 1922, and they’re rendered in such fine detail and perfectly evoke the moody darkness of the text.
Maybe that was visual overload, but I think these illustrations are absolutely stunning. This is the stuff I live for, dorky as it may be. Whatev, haters gon hate. I’m so so happy with this purchase, and so looking forward to re-reading Hamlet with lovely visual accompaniment.