Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

I didn’t like it as much as I liked The Real Inspector Hound, but I did like it – I have mostly been thinking about whether to give it three stars or four on goodreads. In the end I went for the four star rating (the current goodreads average is 4.07); it’s a funny book and it made me laugh a few times. I assume there are still hidden gems in there to be found if I were to look closer, and that makes me hesitant to give it a relatively ‘low’ rating (even though 3 stars isn’t really low at all). An example of what I’m talking about is this quote, from a conversation between the ‘Player’ and Rosencrantz (or is it Guildenstern?):

Ros – I mean, what exactly do you do?

Player – We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out. We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off.”

Now, this is hardly an exchange you’d feel compelled to take much notice of. However the wonderful thing is that, as pointed out elsewhere: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is structured as the inverse of Hamlet; the title characters are the leads, not supporting players, and Hamlet himself has only a small part. The duo appears on stage here when they are off-stage in Shakespeare’s play” (link).

A few other quotes:

“Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with a lid on it?

Guil – No.

Ros – Nor do I, really … It’s silly to be depressed by it. I mean one thinks of it like being alive in a box, one keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead … which should make a difference … shouldn’t it? I mean, you’d never know you were in a box, would you? It would be just like being asleep in a box. Not that I’d like to sleep in a box, mind you, not without any air – you’d wake up dead, for a start and then where would you be? Apart from inside a box. That’s the bit I don’t like, frankly. That’s why I don’t think of it …

Guil stirs restlessly, pulling his cloak round him.

Because you’d be helpless, wouldn’t you? Stuffed in a box like that, I mean you’d be in there for ever. Even taking into account the fact that you’re dead, really … ask yourself, if I asked you straight off – I’m going to stuff you in this box now, would you rather be alive or dead? Naturally you’d prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You’d have a chance at least. You could lie there thinking – well, at least I’m not dead!”

Guil –  I think I have it. A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.

Ros – Or just as mad.

Guil – Or just as mad.

Ros – And he does both.

Guil – So there you are.

Ros – Stark raving sane.”

Guil – Go where?

Ros – To England.

Guil – England! That’s a dead end. I never believed in it anyway.

Ros – All we’ve got to do is make our report and that’ll be that. Surely.

Guil – I don’t believe it – A shore, a harbour, say – and we get off and we stop someone and say – Where’s the King? – And he says, oh, you follow that road there and take the first left and – (furiously) I don’t believe any of it!

Ros – It doesn’t sound very plausible.”

I’ve started reading The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins. It’s pop sci and I have been disappointed a few times by some of the remarks he’s made during the first 200 pages (the pages in the book covering the stuff about which I assume I know the most), but taking it for what it is so far it’s still an enjoyable (and easy) read.


July 7, 2013 - Posted by | Books

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