In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

‘Hamlet’Sarah Lawson
Close
Close

This actor is no more Danish
Than I am; no more murderer or prince
Than I. Chances are
He’s never seen a ghost.

Elsinore is a stage with sets
And curtains. The wardrobe mistress
Worked half the night
On Gertrude’s third-act gown
To get it right.

The gravediggers dig a trapdoor
Halfway down to where the props are kept.

The fights need late rehearsals;
Hamlet and Laertes relax
At the pub next door before they catch
Their several tube trains home.

The state of Denmark’s all a prop.
The only thing that’s real tonight
Is Yorick’s skull.
Human bone that grew and died,
It once held someone’s brain.
Ignorant of Equity, the old owner never knew
He’d end up playing Yorick,
A role still more mature than Lear.
Death does his cameo walk-on here.

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