Ashok Shahane (अशोक शहाणे) says in his book 'Napeksha' (नपेक्षा):
"...टिळकांनी तुरुंगात 'गीतारहस्य' लिहल. अन नेहमी ठाम बोलणार्या आगरकरांनी मात्र 'हॅम्लेट'चं रुपांतर केल. 'विकारविलसिताबद्दल मात्र महाराष्ट्र आगरकरांच्या ऋणात राहील… "
("...Tilak wrote 'Gitarahasya' in prison. And Agarkar- who always spoke with firmness- translated 'Hamlet'. Maharashtra will always remain in Agarkar's debt for 'Vikarvilasit'...")
[Page 41, 2005/2008, Lokvangmay Gruha]
'Vikarvilasit' ('विकारविलसित' अथवा शेक्सपीअरकृत हॉम्लेट नाटकाचे भाषांतर '), 1883 is a translation of 'Hamlet'.
I have already written on this blog about J S Mill's iron-like grip on Agarkar's (and many others who followed him) intellect. Read for instance the post "R D Karve, Skepticism Not Included...जो शंकाच घेत नाही त्याला ज्ञान कसे मिळणार?" dated August 25 2013.
So how did Shakespeare, for Agarkar, fit in Mill's 'utilitarianism'?
I was carious about it. It was not just the love of great literature. There was more to it. Shahane's statement only implies irony.
H N Apte (8 March 1864- 3 March 1919) (ह. ना आपटे) answered it for me.
Apte has written reviews of a few Marathi/ Sanskrit plays. One of them is Agarkar's 'Vikarvilasit'. The review was first published in 1883-84.
"...त्याची (शेक्सपीअरची) नाटके म्हणजे, विकारविलसितकारांच्या मताप्रमाणे केवळ मनोरंजनार्थ नाहीत, तर ती त्यांच्या योग्यतेप्रमाणे वाचून त्यांचा अभ्यास केला असता आपणास जीर्णारण्याप्रमाणे भासणार्या जगात उपयोगी पडणारी वर्तणूक शिकवणारी आहेत.…"
["...his plays (Shakespeare's) plays, according to the author of 'Vikarvilasit'- are not for entertainment alone. But if they are studied as per their merit, they may teach us useful conduct in this rickety-forest like world..."]
[from 'Nivadak Hari Narayan Apte', Sampadak- Vidyadhar Pundalik, Sahitya Akademi, 1991/2013
'निवडक हरि नारायण आपटे', संपादक - विद्याधर पुंडलीक]
So there you go....Hamlet has a utility and hence you should read it and perhaps translate it!
"How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!" --Hamlet from "Hamlet" (Act III, Scene iv)
Hamlet using Lego
courtesy: FB page on Shakespeare
Even H N Apte was deeply influenced by J S Mill more than any other contemporary social reformer. [Note- Later V D Savarkar वि दा सावरकर too would be an ardent follower of Mill's utilitarianism (उपयुक्ततावाद)]
Vidyadhar Pundalik informs, in the book quoted above, that the protagonist of Apte's incomplete novel 'Ganpatrao' (गणपतराव) takes an oath of social reforms on the copy of Mill's 'The Subjection of Women ', 1869 (quoted wrongly as 'Subjegation of Women' in the book).
Not just this, in year 1991, Pundalik adds his own testimonial to Mill:
" ...इथे हे सांगितले पाहिजे की, मिल्ल हा आजच्या स्त्रीमुक्तीवाद्यांनासुध्दा प्रेरक आणि मौलिक वाटेल असा असामान्य प्रज्ञावंत होता..."
("...it must be stated here that Mill was such an extraordinary intellect that today's proponents of women liberation would find him inspirational and valuable...")
I wonder what Agarkar and Apte would have thought of 'Hamlet' using Lego... And what did they think of the ghost in 'Hamlet'?
courtesy: Getty Images
I have another thought on Agarkar's Hamlet.
Tim Lott says:
"...You can’t get away from jealousy and rivalry when you’re brothers and that, taken to the extreme, is what happens in Hamlet. It’s about how brothers sometimes really fucking hate each other. I know there are times in my childhood when if I’d had a gun in my hand, I would have shot my brother dead. That dark impulse, although suppressed and effaced by what we want to believe about ourselves, is very deep and dark.."
When Tilak and Agarkar, once almost like brothers, fought a bitter wordy duel in public in 1893, documented on this blog here, did Agarkar remember Hamlet?