Gaston Bachelard’s book as shell

In Gaston Bachelard’s the Poetics of Space, a philosophical study of the spaces we inhabit, open, and close, our houses, chests, nests, and more, in the chapter titled “Shells,” we find this quote from Gaston Puel:

           

“This morning I shall tell the simple happiness of a man

 stretched out in the hollow of a boat.

The oblong shell of a skiff has closed over him.

He is sleeping. An almond. The boat, like a bed, espouses sleep.”

 

But we are reminded of Hamlet’s “Oh, God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space were it not that I have bad dreams” (Act II, sc. ii).

 

Reflecting on the “capacity of shells” to both protect and trap, Bachelard arrives at a “suitable moral” to the habits of the inhabitants of shells, found in da Vinci’s Notebooks: “Like the mouth that, in telling its secret, places itself at the mercy of an indiscreet listener.”

 

Hamlet, in the space and bad dreams line, is talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, a pair of hermit crabs, old friends “sent for” by the king to sneak into and inhabit Hamlet’s shell, but it will not be easy to crack the nut of Hamlet’s loneliness.

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