The Klingon Hamlet
Simon and Schuster, 2001 M05 19 - 240 pages
For too long, readers throughout the Federation have been exposed to The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo'nos, that classic work of Klingon™ literature, only through inadequate and misleading English translations. Now at last, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Klingon Language Institute, this powerful drama by the legendary Klingon playwright, Wil'yam Shex'pir, can be appreciated in the elegance and glory of its original tongue.
This invaluable volume contains the complete text of the play, along with an English translation for easy consultation and comparison. In addition, an incisive introduction explains the play's crucial importance in Klingon culture, while copious notes illustrate how the debased English version diverges from the original, often distorting and even reversing the actual meaning of the verses.
Khamlet, the Restored Klingon Version, is a work that belongs in the library of every human who hopes truly to understand what it means to be Klingon.
From inside the book
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With this in mind, the gravedigger scene is much different from the 'light relief' expected in traditional tragedies. It is no longer funny, but almost absurdist—and deeply disconcerting, as the audience realizes that, ...
Such instances include the murder of Polonyush, Khamlet's overt flirting with Ovelya, and—as instances of “madness with method in 't”—some of his soliloquies. A good illustration of these cultural disparities lies in Act III Scene 1.
ACT I SCENE I Elsinore. A platform before the castle. [FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO] Bernardo Who's there? Francisco Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself. Bernardo Long live the king! Francisco Bernardo?
... [Enter Ghost] Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again! In the same figure, like the king that's dead. bernarDo veranchISqo bernarDo veranchISqo Horey'So marSe'luS veranchISqo marSe'luS veranchISqo marSe'luS 4 ACT I, SCENE I.
... That may to thee do ease and grace to me, Speak to me: If thou art privy to thy country's fate, Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, bernarDo Horey'So ben ta'ma' Hay'meH qaDta' DuraS pIn, vortIbraS, ghaH 8 ACT I, SCENE I.
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How fun to have a parallel edition with the English text of Hamlet on the left page and the corresponding Klingon text of Khamlet on the right page! Then in the back are the textual notes because when the humans stole the work for themselves, they made various changes to fit peculiarities of human culture. Face it, humans are wimps compared to Klingons! And humans have no sense of operatic drama.
As far as the story goes, this is a tale in which nearly all of the characters are supposed to be noble, but most of the deaths are dishonorable. How can these schemers and back-stabbers even claim to be Klingon? They have no place in Sto-vo-kor!
Fortunately, there are a few deaths that are glorious and honorable. They stir the heart.
Another fun part of reading this play is that so many of the speeches and archaic phrases have come into the collective memory of a large number of people. Even the human version has a certain amount of memorable verses. School children should memorize these and their elders should review them often. Modern readers should pepper their conversation with terms such as "Odds bodkin!" Our lives would be so much the richer.
Do you want a book that will be worth the time you spend on it, even though it takes you away from weapons practice and other worthwhile activities? Then this is a book you should read.