"So: now I come to speak. At last. I will tell you all I know...." These are the words of Ophelia at the beginning of this short novel: literally her words, in that her narrative is composed entirely of the vocabulary she is allotted in Hamlet. Within these meagre resources, she manages to express herself on topics including her love for her father (Polonius), her care for her younger brother (Laertes), her puzzlement in the face of the Prince himself, and her increasing sense that she must escape the fate awaiting her in the play. This is no mere technical exercise or prequel to the play: the use of such a restricted vocabulary means that Ophelia's voice, while direct and passionate, gains musical qualities as words keep recurring in perpetually changing contexts. Paul Griffiths, born in Bridgend, Wales, is a well-known writer on contemporary and classical music.
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The author of numerous books on music, and for many years chief music critic on The Times, Paul Griffiths now writes regularly for The New Yorker. He is the author of Bartok (Master Musicians Series, J.M. Dent, 1984), Thames and Hudson Encyclopaedia of 20th-Century Music (1986), Stravinsky (Master
Musicians, 1992), and a contributor to The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera (1994).
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