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The possible worlds of Hamlet: Shakespeare as adaptor, adaptations of Shakespeare Open Access


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Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chopoidalo, Cindy
Supervisor and department
Hart, Jonathan (Comparative Literature / English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Verdicchio, Massimo (Comparative Literature / Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Kelly, Gary (English and Film Studies / Comparative Literature)
Sywenky, Irene (Comparative Literature / Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Grande, Troni (English, University of Regina)
Gay, David (English and Film Studies)
Comparative Literature Program, Office of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Adaptation has been an important part of the appreciation and study of Shakespeare’s plays from the beginning. As was usual for playwrights of his time, Shakespeare adapted the majority of his writings from other literary and/or historical works; and in the centuries since, other writers have used his texts as inspiration for their own. Examining adaptations of literary works in relation to their ‘original’ source texts, to their performance/printing history, to each other, and to the world(s) of authors and readers allows us to explore the relationships of textual worlds to the actual worlds in which those texts are produced and read/seen/listened to, and the intertextual relationships between the worlds of the original work and an adaptation of that work into a new text. As Shakespeare’s best-known and most written-about text, indeed one of the world’s most studied texts, Hamlet has inspired countless interpretations and adaptations by artists and writers the world over. These adaptations are worthy of study in their own right, both as transformations of Shakespeare’s original text and as distinct literary works themselves. At the same time, Hamlet is itself an adaptation, what William F. Hansen describes as “a revision of a dramatic treatment...of a retelling...of a literary treatment...of a Scandinavian legend” (67). This dissertation examines Shakespeare’s Hamlet as an adaptation of its historical and literary source texts, alongside a representative sample of texts, in English, French, and Spanish, which use Hamlet as their source texts. The theoretical basis for this study is possible/fictional-worlds theory, as outlined in Lubomír Doležel’s Heterocosmica, especially the taxonomy of adaptations presented in its closing chapter. A similar taxonomy of adaptations put forth by Douglas Lanier in Shakespeare and Modern Popular Culture is also used. The dissertation begins with an overview of possible/fictional-worlds theory and its use in the study of adaptations. It then discusses the source texts of Hamlet and the use Shakespeare made of them in his play. This is followed by a comparison of four translations in French and Spanish, as well as texts which present counterparts of the plot and/or characters of the play.
License granted by Cindy Chopoidalo ( on 2009-09-16T18:12:55Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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