Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet is reading a book. Is it Cardan's Comforte or St. Augustine's The City of God? What is the clue for the answer? I am asking this question because I am in favor of Augustine's The City of God as I found this paragraph which is identical to the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy: I ask whether it is better to suffer one and die or to fear all and live? I am not unaware how much sooner a man would choose to live long under the menace of so many deaths rather than by dying once to fear none of them henceforth, but it is one menace that the aprehension of the flesh weakly seeks to escape and quite another that the carefully analysed calculation of the mind pins down.

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Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to your question, only opinion and conjecture.  That's because we only have the text Shakespeare wrote to go on, and the only actual information we have about the book Hamlet carries onstage in Act II, scene ii  are these lines:


But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

And later:


What do you read, my lord?


Words, words, words.


What is the matter, my lord?


Between who?


I mean the matter that you read, my lord.


Slanders, sir.  For the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are...

(The entire section contains 326 words.)

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