Hamlet by Alexander Kuprin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – Hamlet – Contents

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The curtain rose, and no sooner did the public see their favourite than the theatre shook with sounds of applause and cries of ecstasy.

Kostromsky standing near the king’s throne, bowed many times, pressed his hand to his heart, and sent his gaze over the whole assembly.

At length, after several unsuccessful attempts, the king, taking advantage of a moment when the noise had subsided a little, raised his voice and began his speech:

“Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him….”

The enthusiasm of the crowd had affected Kostromsky, and when the king turned to him, and addressed him as “brother and beloved son,” the words of Hamlet’s answer:

“A little more than kin and less than kind,”

sounded so gloomily ironical and sad that an involuntary thrill ran through the audience.

And when the queen, with hypocritical words of consolation, said:

“Thou knowst ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity,”

he slowly raised his long eyelashes, which he had kept lowered until that moment, looked reproachfully at her, and then answered with a slight shake of the head:

“Ay, madam, it is common.”

After these words, expressing so fully his grief for his dead father, his own aversion from life and submission to fate, and his bitter scorn of his mother’s light-mindedness, Kostromsky, with the special, delicate, inexplicable sensitiveness of an experienced actor, felt that now he had entirely gripped his audience and bound them to him with an inviolable chain.

It seemed as if no one had ever before spoken with such marvellous force that despairing speech of Hamlet at the exit of the king and queen:

“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!”

The nasal tones of Kostromsky’s voice were clear and flexible. Now it rang out with a mighty clang, then sank to a gentle velvety whisper or burst into hardly restrained sobs.

And when, with a simple yet elegant gesture, Kostromsky pronounced the last words:

“But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue!”

the audience roared out its applause.

“Yes, the public and I understand one another,” said the actor as he went off the stage into the wings after the first act. “Here, you crocodile, give me some vodka!” he shouted at once to the barber who was coming to meet him.

< < < . II .
. IV . > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin -Hamlet – Contents

Copyright holders –  Public Domain Book

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