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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Hamlet and the Philosopher's Stone

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Author Topic: Hamlet and the Philosopher's Stone
Aris Katsaris
Member # 888

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A guy I know from the LessWrong forum, made a parody of Hamlet that he's selling online for 3 dollars -- I bought it and felt it was well worth it, so I recommend it to everyone.

Here it is. The download contains both pdf and kindle version. At the site there's also an excerpt (the beginning) that you can read for free. At least I recommend reading the excerpt before buying, in case the theme of the parody offends you.

Btw, I'm not sure if I'm breaking some rule of the forum, by effectively advertising a product -- if so, please delete -- but I'm just recommending this, as I would be willing to recommend any book I liked.

[ November 01, 2011, 08:21 PM: Message edited by: Aris Katsaris ]

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Doubt that's a problem. Related to that, I've been enjoying a decent parallel universe type fan story in progress, called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Fairly easy to find via search engine. Still in progress but quite well done.
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I strongly second Ben's recommendation of Methods of Rationality (also available as book-style PDF). I read it based on a recommendation from Aris' blog, and I'm very glad I did.

The main premise is that several of the main characters are roughly as smart as the brightest of the Battle School kids, and that Harry himself is a rationalist with preternatural knowledge of science and the scientific method. (He's also an arrogant sod at times, but you can probably get over that.) It's also the story that inspired this rewrite of Hamlet.

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H.P. and the Methods of Rationality is indeed outstanding as fan fiction, and suggests the writers should start creating their own universes. The humor reminds me of the incident in which Harry is worried about his scar hurting, realizes Hermione would send him to the library for a medical reference, and then concludes that - as he is the only person ever to have survived the Killing Curse - he is unlikely to find probable aftereffects included in a treatise on common magical ailments and remedies. So Rowling does indeed employ that sort of humor, and these writers have exploited that with great success.

Among the trivia of the Potterverse, I recently looked up why the wizard's hospital is known as St. Mungo's. As it turns out, while Harry was the son of a well-respected wizarding couple, Mungo was the son of an actual king in Strathclyde (valley of the Clyde), a kingdom which included that valley and some territory to the north from roughly 600 C.E. to 800 C.E. with its capital at Dumbarton (fortress of the the Britons) although its most populous settlement was probably Glasgow fifteen miles to the east. Anyway, like Harry Potter, Mungo survived an early threat when unfriendly persons took his mother up a nearby hill during her pregnancy and tossed her off a cliff - perhaps because, even if Mungo's parents were not actually married, he would still have had a claim to the throne in that era. Anyway his mother survived, but thought it prudent to take ship for Wales, where Mungo was born and brought up.

Once Mungo was grown, he chose to become a priest and returned to Strathclyde as a missionary. Eventually he was created a bishop and engaged in a great controversy with the pagan king, which ended in that monarch's death but also in Mungo's being driven from the kingdom. He took refuge with St. Servanus in Wales, where he acquired the name Mungo - a term of endearment meaning something like sweetheart - which is what Servanus called him so frequently people thought it was his name. That could have meant they were acknowledged lovers, but more likely the proper translation would be "dear friend," or perhaps "dear boy," if Servanus was an older man Mungo had chosen as a mentor. His exile ended when a Christian contender for the throne of Strathclyde defeated the pagan contender in battle, so Mungo could return to his episcopal domains.

Shortly after Mungo's return from Wales, he was walking in the woods when he encountered a naked madman. This person identified himself as a certain Merlin, who had been a court fool to the pagan contender for the throne of Strathclyde before becoming suddenly unemployed following the battle. Mungo developed an acquaintance with this person, probably by providing food and clothing from time to time, but Merlin remained stubbornly pagan nevertheless. Until a last visit when Merlin asked to be baptized, saying his view of the future had revealed he would shortly be beaten and pierced and drowned, and that he wanted to die a Christian. So he was baptized, and then approached some shepherds guarding their flocks near the Clyde, one of whom took fright and struck him with a staff. The blow knocked Merlin down the bank into the Clyde, where he impaled himself on a stake left by fishermen, in such a position his head was underwater. So he died, but the manner of his passing established his fame as a prophet.

So miles and centuries lie between that naked madman and the teacher of King Arthur, and also between him and Dumbledore, but the connection seems clear. Perhaps others can supply more details about St. Mungo and his convert, from the wealth on the Internet, but I am right now too pressed for time.

[ November 14, 2011, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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