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Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays [Kindle Edition]

David P. Gontar
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The single greatest contribution to Shakespeare scholarship in recent memory.

Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays;

1. Presents the most compelling and original reading of Hamlet since A.C. Bradley;
2. Dispenses once and for all with the psychoanalytic interpretation of the play;
3. Explains the actual meaning of the Oedipus myth;
4. Provides the "smoking gun" which establishes Shakespeare's true identity;
5. Explodes the fable of Shakespeare's appearance; and
6. In the process of correcting misreadings of Shakespeare's poetry and drama devised by a cross section of ideologies, offers vital insights and indispensable guidance on how this most challenging of writers can be fairly and productively read today.

Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays is the definitive exposition of Shakespeare in our time. Nothing else compares.

Editorial Reviews


This book, that combines wit with learning, will delight all who love Shakespeare and commentary on Shakespeare.
       — Theodore Dalrymple, author of Life at the Bottom and Farewell Fear

Professor Gontar has provided us with a fresh, energetic, searching and sometimes acerbic look at Shakespeare, and, especially, some of his modern critics. Equally adept at expositing the texts and engaging the most distinguished readers, Gontar always encourages us to re-examine our own preconceptions as a way of discovering and reappropriating Shakespeare's genius in our day.
       — Dr. William R. Long, author of Wisdom Seeking: Thirty Days with the Book of Proverbs

As a contemporary of the future, Shakespeare is forever. Prof. Gontar offers original and penetrating insights into the fabric of Shakespeare’s plays and into the souls of their unforgettable characters.
       — Jimmie Moglia, author of Your Daily Shakespeare

--New English Review

About the Author

David P. Gontar, Ph.D., J.D., served as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Southern University from 1975 to 1982. Thereafter he was engaged in the practice of law in New Orleans, Louisiana and southern California. He is currently Adjunct Professor of English and Philosophy at Inner Mongolia University in China. In 2010, he was the English editor of China's application to UNESCO for World Heritage Status of the Xanadu site in Inner Mongolia, granted by UNESCO in June of 2012. David's writings have appeared in Southwestern Journal of Philosophy, Tulane Studies in Philosophy, Plantation Society in the Americas, Loyola Law Review, and New English Review.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1922 KB
  • Print Length: 428 pages
  • Publisher: New English Review Press (November 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AF17C46
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,310 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Meant for All Students of Shakespeare March 13, 2013
By Gary L
In "Hamlet Made Simple," David P. Gontar, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Literature at Inner Mongolia University in China, has written a powerful book of essays that belongs in the library of all students of Shakespeare. In a publicity flier that accompanies this book, I found this ambitious assertion: "The definitive exposition of Shakespeare in our time. Nothing else compares." That's setting the bar awfully high. Having read the book, I would say that David Gontar delivers on this lofty claim.

This book is meant to be enjoyed by all lovers of great literature; however, its greatest appeal may be to those who have acquired some familiarity with Shakespeare and are now seeking to break through the miasma of conventional wisdom. Mr. Gontar is a skilled writer who is capable of leading the reader out of this literary darkness. He challenges his readers to step out of their Shakespearean "comfort zone." If you are willing to accept his challenge, this is definitely a book for you.

But be forewarned: This is not your standard book of Shakespearean criticism. Rather, it reads like a highly-learned guided tour through the plays and poems. It may not resonate well with those who are unwilling to think "outside the box." It is written for those discerning members of the literary populace who are not afraid to pursue truth wherever it may lead. The only prerequisites for enjoyment are an inquisitive nature and an open mind. It is well written, well edited, and well researched. David Gontar's erudition, depth of knowledge of the subject matter, and genuine love for Shakespeare is breathtaking, a devotion obviously cultivated over many years.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” Hamlet tells his good friend, and likewise in "Hamlet Made Simple" there are more and deeper revelations about the contents of the Shakespeare works than are dreamt of by most commentaries on them.

David Gontar’s book of essays is a real treasure. He guides us to look beneath the surface of the poems, plays and sonnets, where wondrous surprises are waiting to be discovered. In some ways his writings and insights can be compared favorably with those of Harold Bloom or Harold Goddard, but Professor Gontar also wields a powerful additional weapon, akin to a pair of goggles with night vision, resulting is a series of previously unseen and startling images.

Gontar is a Shakespeare scholar and is quite able to confront various questions within the traditional or Stratfordian context, but he is also a pioneer in being able to expand and deepen that context to include entirely new layers and levels of contemporary English history and biography. He is one of the first critics in my experience who deals with the “authorship question” after, not before, examining aspects of Shakespeare’s creations on their own terms.

In terms of the power and originality of Gontar’s insights, this book may be placed on the shelf quite near to the masterful "Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom" by Charles Beauclerk. By stating clearly and concisely that “Hamlet” and “Shakespeare” are “ultimately two names for the same person,” Gontar begins to put on those goggles with the night vision.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who was Hamlet's Daddy? March 25, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David P. Gontar's Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays is erudite, intellectually entertaining, and deliciously challenging. In this set of 19 essays, he brings established Shakespeare scholars to task, illuminates the work of the Bard in new and remarkable ways, and nudges us to pull out our Complete Shakespeare, accompanied by a good stout dictionary. I found myself chuckling with satisfaction as I savored a turn of phrase, an unknown word, or note of irony. But the best part was the new insights I gained by revisiting the familiar.
His essay on "Hamlet" is stunning. It argues convincingly that Hamlet's hesitancy... but wait! Do I want to give away the gist so easily? No. Best read it for yourself. By delving into back-story hidden in textual clues, he asks us to see the Prince in a whole new light, and cleverly helps us realize why the authorship question (or answer) is important for interpreting the plays.
His notes on feminism are provocative. I'm delighted at his uncovering of the naturalistic feminism embedded in androgyny. Shakespeare has never struck me as sexist. Kate's speech at the end of "Taming of the Shrew" is surely meant to be delivered tongue in cheek, since it satisfies the mutual interest of both her and her spouse.
As for the essays on the more obscure plays, they prompt me to take Shakespeare to the beach, to read his work with new appreciation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Into A New Shakespeare Paradigm June 24, 2013
The title, 'Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays', may sound whimsical, but the volume's content is a tour de force of serious moral ambition for finding the truth.

The author means to transcend the divide between stale conventional Shakespeare scholarship and the new insights provided by aligning the Shakespeare canon biographically with its most likely author, literally the champion spear-shaker of the Elizabethan joust, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

But an historical identification of Oxford does not seem to be Professor Gontar's primary goal. Rather, it occurs cumulatively as by-play in the evocative hints and subtleties throughout the plays themselves, as they emerge in a new and deeper light, one unconsciously thrown by the mind behind the words.

Gontar perceives the Shakespeare secret, that the author thought as naturally in metaphor as Euclid and Archimedes thought in line and space. To do so required an expansive spirit, at home in Nature, and steeped in the classical tradition of knowledge.

The book is an adventure of free-spirited, learned literary criticism, wherein the reader experiences the joy of thinking and sharing the human truths from that perspective. Gontar loves the literature, opening doors of perception for us to do likewise.

The gift for incorporating biography into literary explication-de-text, accesses the Shakespeare personality as--not a faultless god floating somewhere above human experience--but a lyrical and frequently tormented soul seeking through art to comprehend his human suffering.

In this the Shakespeare author was the first modern man to jettison the overbearingly religious Medieval world-view. Though isolated in an infinite universe, man's life is meaningful, often painfully so.
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