Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Preparing to Read Infinite Jest: "To Be or Not To Be" or "Brush Up Your Shakespeare"

Hamlet at Project Gutenberg (if you want to read it for free)

The novel derives its name in part from a line in Hamlet, in which Hamlet refers to the skull of Yorick, the court jester:
Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. —Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
So, I was going to reread Hamlet to be in it while reading IJ, but decided I didn't have to when I came upon this website, Enjoying "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. In this website you will find:

  • The play broken down scene by scene
  • The major themes in the play broken down and analyzed
  • Background information to the story of "Hamlet"
  • Links to various clips and teaching tools

The only thing this website is missing are the various ways that Shakespeare's play relates to the novel Infinite Jest and for that you can go to Infinite Jest & Hamlet:similarities from Library Thing and there's some more stuff here...just so you know I don't know if there are any *spoilers* or not because I didn't read either site too thoroughly, just in case there were, you know...*spoilers*.

Another site that has been beyond helpful as I've been reading is The Infinite Jest LiveBlog:
I'll be doing my best to call out whatever Hamlet Sightings I notice. It’s safe to assume our updated Hamlet is Hal (also, not safe to assume he is a stand in for David Foster Wallace), who opens the book with a mysterious freak out at a rigged college application interview. Can’t say much more without giving away way too much, but pay attention to this chapter. It’s, well, riddled with with important clues about what happens in the rest of the book, and even the smallest things are deliberate.
And, he has so far, all I have to do is ctrl-f "hamlet" and then read the parts that pertain to the pages I've read thus far to see what he believes are Hamlet connections. Love it!

And, if you're looking to watch Hamlet, THE GUARDIAN gives us the top ten in 2010 to choose from or you can just look at my lovely collage above...Ethan Hawke as a modern day Hamlet with the setting in New York City? Yes, please.

Oh! And, if you are reading with us and haven't read the opening post or joined up, here it is!

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