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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Paperback – 1994
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This is a most remarkable play. Very funny. Very brilliant. Very chilling.”New York Times
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead [is] verbally dazzling . . . the most exciting, witty intellectual treat imaginable.”Edith Oliver, New Yorker
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Top Customer Reviews
R&G, although bit players, are actually in a surprising number of scenes (most of which are cut out from stage and film productions of Hamlet) and this play, interweaving these scenes with others, produces a rich picture of these two characters, entirely missing from Shakespeare's epic play.
The most obviously interesting part of this work is its attempt to explain why these characters die. When you learn at the end of Hamlet that R&G have died, you are left with a nagging sensation that something is wrong. This play fleshes this out. All of Shakespeare's tragedies are, by definition, bloody (as the Players in this work make evidently clear) but R&G's deaths are not demanded by the plot or by the passions of any of the characters.
We do not dwell on R&G's deaths in Hamlet because more important and tragic events consume us. This book makes us focus on the gratuitousness of R&G's deaths. In addition, it makes their deaths as tragic as those of the main characters in Hamlet by putting them the center of the story. Of course, we do not get any real answers as to why these characters die. Other than by changing the story of Hamlet, there can be no answer to this question.Read more ›
Philosophically, I would tend to say that this play is securely grounded in the genre that has been called the Theater of the Absurd, which in turn owes much to the thinking of Albert Camus. Having said this, I have to say that this play has some definite similarities with the works of Beckett, especially Godot, but also that of Harold Pinter's, "The Birthday Party", especially in terms of dialogue, plot direction, and character development. So if you like the work of these playwrights you would certainly enjoy this, which would also be of great interest to Shakespeare students/fans as well as anyone interested in the ideas of existentialist thought.
Despite these similarities R&G and at the same time because of them, this work seems at times to be conscious of breaking new ground and testing the limits of absurdity and interaction with the audience. The symbolism, for example, seems to be much more important to the action and meaning of this play than it is in other works of this genre. Whereas, Godot seems to stress the repetitiveness of dialogue, R&G is suggestive of just the opposite--the seemingly endless play of meaning implicit in each uttered word. This comes out through the characters lack of confidence in what they struggle to say, and the way that their views seem to change with each situation, which illustrates the uncertainty of meaning and life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hilarious take on Hamlet from the perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Great companion to the original.Published 1 month ago by Reader
Experts have speculated that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two sides of the same character. They are certainly opposites. Rosencrantz is trusting and gullible. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rabid Readers Reviews
Well, to say I didn't like the book would be a lie. It wasn't a blast but it was quite interesting seeing the existential crisis R&G have through the novel. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Such an amazingly written play! I was impressed and enjoyed reading it immensely. Although it had a reminded me much of Waiting for Godot, however it was more entertaining and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Crysta Robinson
One of my very favorite movies. I haven't seen the play, so I don't know how the movie compares, but I've heard that the play is at least as good.Published 10 months ago by Jerry