Simon Critchley interview

Interview with Simon Critchley here (via Verso blog). Among many other topics (love, death, Occupy, literature) one thing it reveals is that he is co-writing a book on Hamlet with his wife.

What’s the Hamlet book about, if you don’t mind me asking?

Well, it’s about the play. The play’s the thing to catch the consciousness of the king, and all that. It’s a very intense and weird scrutiny of the text. We’re using a whole series of outsider interpretations of Hamlet, like Carl Schmidt, Walter Benjamin, Lacan, Nietzsche, Adorno, and other figures. All of whom have things to say about Hamlet, but for none of them is Hamlet central; it’s a peripheral concern. We look at what light they can shed on the play, and then we mess with their interpretations. The way it ends up is that Hamlet is a play of desire. Hamlet is incapable of love, incapable of articulating his desire, it is always displaced onto something else (the ghost, his mother, etc.).

We’re finishing it now. We’re trying to look at Joyce and Melville and Goethe. Melville says somewhere that there is such an interior gloom in Hamlet which we can’t bear, and for that reason we try to turn Shakespeare into some sort of moralist. He invented humanity according to Harold Bloom, or whatever. We pour an awful lot of cold water on that idea. Hamlet is a sort of awful farce; there’s no reconciliation.

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