Hamlet og Ofelia
Helsingør Station, Helsingør, Denmark
Shakespeare never set foot in Denmark. Probably. But it’s here he chose to set his dark and brooding tragedy, Hamlet. And not just because Denmark’s famously dark and brooding weather is an ideal backdrop for a dark and brooding drama. But because it’s here the story originated. Way back in the thirteenth century, the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote the first history of Denmark, the Gesta Danorum, or, in English, Deeds of the Danes. It was written in Latin and spanned sixteen volumes. The third and fourth volumes tell the story of Amleth (you’ll notice Hamlet is an anagram of Amleth). In Amleth’s story, a king is murdered by his brother, a queen marries her newly-crowned brother-in-law, and a prince pretends to be mad. Sound familiar? Where the two stories differ is that Amleth manages to seize the crown from his uncle and marry a Scottish princess, and Hamlet, well, not to put too fine a point on it, ends up dead. It’s thought Shakespeare came across the story when it was translated into French in the 1570s. Shakespeare’s dramatic retelling of this old Danish tale is perhaps the most famous work of literature in any language. Ever. And the people of Elsinore, or Helsingør, are so pleased it is set in their town, in their castle, the mayor commissioned these two statues by artist Rudolph Tegner back in 1938.