In this week’s Sunday Times Magazine there’s a review by Christopher Hart of John Simm’s Hamlet at the Crucible, Sheffield. (There’s a Guardian interview with Simm, here.) He mentions a change to the normally used text, the production preferring the Folio edition which has “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in our philosophy,” rather than the more familiar “your philosophy” from the Quarto texts.
Hart, in his Times article, thinks that when Hamlet uses “our” he’s referring to the “all human intellectual attempts”, and reflecting his own, existing belief in a “darker, more uncertain, ultimately unknowable reality,” but I don’t buy that. It seems to me that Hamlet’s reflecting the fact that his existing rationalism, and that of his friend, are suddenly invalidated. The “our” extends to the two of them, but no further.
I prefer the Folio version. It seems far more in line with the commonality, and camaraderie, between Hamlet and Horatio. Both men are students, enrolled at the prestigious university of Wittenberg, whose world-view is shattered by the appearance of the ghost. They’re sharing an experience, and it seems that Hamlet would have to have a very high opinion of himself, or low opinion of his friend, to point out the limitations of Horatio’s philosophy alone.
I suppose one could consider the more judgemental version – “your philosophy” – as Hamlet’s giving primacy to his role as prince; and certainly he demands that his friends swear an oath, on his sword, never to speak of the events which have just occurred, which would echo his elevated status. But, well, I just don’t see Hamlet as that kind of guy. This is, I realize, a somewhat less than considered textual, or even inter-textual, critique.
Still, if you don’t value my opinion, there’s always David Tennant to consider, from an article in The Stage, “Wordplay’s the thing,” by Jonathan Bate: “But for Tennant, the actor-reader, ‘our philosophy’ is a choice in keeping with his take on the most inexhaustible, question-filled role in the repertoire.”
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