Sunday, February 22, 2009

Star Trek 807: The Klingon Hamlet

807. The Klingon Hamlet

PUBLICATION: Pocket Books, February 2000

CREATORS: Nick Nicholas and Andrew Strader of the Klingon Language Institute, and William Shakespeare of the Globe Theater (illustration by Phil Foglio)

STARDATE: A time of crisis for the Klingon Empire, date unknown.

PLOT: You know the story. Or you think you do. The real title is The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo'nos by the Klingon Shex'pir. The book contains both the English and Klingon versions of the play, along with end notes and essays on the subject of the translation.

CONTINUITY: This is Hamlet in the original Klingon, as mentioned by Chancellor Gorkon in ST VI. Klingon Houses are used in the Klingon text, including that of Duras (in lieu of Fortinbras). There is an essay meant for Starfleet Academy students.


REVIEW: One of many versions of Hamlet I own, on the face of it, the Klingon Hamlet is one big joke. I don't deny that the authors went through a great deal of trouble actually translating Shakespeare's greatest play (actually, I should say, the greatest play in human literature) into Klingon, but most readers aren't going to be able (or even willing) to read it. Where it transcends its basic concept is in the few pages of notes that discuss the translation. How do concepts of honor and the warrior code inform the play? What happens when Klingon has no word for the English concept (or vice-versa, as we're told to believe)? For example, there is no "to be" in Klingon. Is the most famous of soliloquies entirely misunderstood with that corruption of the Klingon "to continue"? These notes and accompanying essays are a great deal of fun and humor. Definitely worth a look, especially for Shakespeare nuts such as myself.

1 comment:

De said...

I've hung out with people who can read this (and have). An interesting, but odd, group.