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Hamlet had an uncle; a comedy of honor by…
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Hamlet had an uncle; a comedy of honor

by James Branch Cabell

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Cabell's darkest comedy retells the tale of Hamlet . . . and not how Shakespeare told it, but much closer to the original histories from which Shakespeare drew his tragedy.

Here there is blood and crime, yes. But tragedy? In Cabell's hands, it's comedy, but dark, bile-tasting comedy. For Cabell did not like politics, and did not hold high in honor men who would war and steal in the name of . . . honor.

And honor is the theme. But honor, is it present?

The reader must decide.

And the reader of the Biography of the Life of Manuel will see the name of an old friend, Horvendile (not Horatio), and will be confused much of the time, I'm afraid, trying to find in the character Wigerlus any similarity to Shakespeare's great tragic hero.

The comedy's funniest moment is satire, though, with the antihero giving a great fireside speech on debasing the currency. It was Cabell's revenge upon FDR, whom he had the good sense not to love. ( )
1 vote wirkman | Apr 1, 2007 |
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