1.21.2009

But a dog has legs

Tonight was our monthly RS book group. The book under discussion was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.


I didn't read it.

I've been thinking about why I didn't read it, and I came up with a list of what I think are excellent reasons:

1. I was busy finishing The Well of Ascension.
2. When I wasn't finishing The Well of Ascension, I was busy napping.
3. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is an "Oprah's Choice" book, and I tend to avoid those on principle. Not all the time, but usually.
4. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, as two or three people told me a few weeks ago, is another version of the Hamlet story - you know, hero's uncle kills hero's dad and seduces hero's mom, hero mopes, hero gets revenge, hero (and usually everyone else) dies. Every time there's a story where the hero's uncle kills the hero's father and marries his mother, people are telling me "Oh, it's just Hamlet." They said that about The Lion King. "The Lion King is really just Hamlet," they said.

Okay, first of all, just because some joker kills his brother and marries his sister-in-law, that doesn't make it Hamlet. You might as well say that every time some shoeless twit kills his father and marries his mother, that makes it Oedipus!

Oh, wait. That does make it Oedipus. I mean, killing your dad and marrying your mom is kind of hard not to be Oedipus.

But I still say that killing your brother and marrying your sister-in-law is not automatically Hamlet. It's more or less how Hamlet begins, but that's just the catalyst. Hamlet is so much more than that. Hamlet is . . . well, it's simple: Hamlet is everything. It's easy, it's simple. How do you explain it? I can't tell you because it's so simple. Who can do that? It's so simple. Everybody would think it's simple. Just everybody. Everybody would think it's simple. Everybody. Ev- nobody couldn't think it's simple. 'Cept babies think it's simple. No, I mean babies don't think it's simple.

But I still firmly believe that The Lion King is not some childified, animated version of Hamlet. The similarities are scant at best. Maybe if Nala had drowned herself, and maybe if Simba had tricked Pumbaa and Timon into visiting the king of England, where they were beheaded forthwith, maybe then I'd think The Lion King was a version of Hamlet.


But how did this turn into a post about The Lion King? So, anyway, from what I gathered tonight from people's comments, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is pretty much Hamlet as a dog story. And, from what I also gathered tonight from people's comments, I have absolutely no interest in reading the book. If I want Hamlet, I'll stick with Shakespeare. And if I want a dog story, I'll rely on one of the dog stories I loved as a youth, like Old Yeller or Savage Sam.

3 comments:

Shannie said...

HAha that picture. You.
I think the reason I keep saying Lion King is Hamlet is not because I really think it is (because it is spectacularly different), but rather because I read somewhere that the writers had intended for it to be a Hamlet-esque story. Maybe they'd never read the original.
Toistra is the word.

Jared and Megan said...

wait... Edgar Sawtelle is a dog?

Janeite42 said...

Edgar is a boy who raises and trains dogs. Some silly critic or other wrote that the dogs act as a sort of Greek chorus in the story. I think they forgot that Greek choruses actually chime in on what's happening around them. Hence the name 'chorus'. The dogs never say anything in the book - aloud, anyway - except maybe 'woof'.