Reading the Unseen: (Offstage) Hamlet is about the presence and significance of offstage action in Hamlet, things we hear about in words but do not see performed physically onstage—things like King Hamlet’s murder “while [he] was sleeping in [his] orchard,” Ophelia’s death in “the glassy stream,” Hamlet’s visit to Ophelia’s “closet . . . with his doublet all unbraced,” Gertrude and Claudius having sex “in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed.” In a series of brilliantly original “close readings,” Ratcliffe examines how it is that passages such as these make physically absent things verbally “present,” how they “show” us things we do not actually see, how they bring us face to face with the “Words, words, words” that are what Hamlet is, he argues, most of all about.
Stephen Ratcliffe is a poet and critic whose most recent book is REAL, a 474-page book of poems written in 474 consecutive days (Avenue B, 2007). Previous books include Portraits & Repetition (The Post-Apollo Press, 2002) and SOUND/(system) (Green Integer, 2002). Listening to Reading, a collection of essays on contemporary experimental poetry, was published by SUNY Press in 2000. He is also the author of Campion: On Song (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981). He lives in Bolinas, California, and teaches at Mills College in Oakland.
READING THE UNSEEN: (OFFSTAGE) HAMLET
$17.95, 5 1/4 x 8; 200 pgs.