Written in Dutch and set in imperial Rome, Geeraardt Brandt's De Veinzende Torquatus (The Feigning Torquatus, 1645) bears unmistakable traces of an encounter with Hamlet. More than a literary-historical curio, Torquatus reveals much about Continental adaptations of, and audiences for, English dramatic works. This essay introduces Brandt and his intellectual milieu, demonstrating how and why he turned to Hamlet in an early investigation of revenge tragedy and political realism. From the dynamic plots to the histrionic style of performance, English drama offered Brandt a vision of political life not unlike the political realism of Tacitus and Machiavelli. While attending to the complexities and problems of establishing its provenance, the essay excavates the tragic vision of political life at work in Torquatus — a version of politics that struck Dutch audiences as prescient in its capacity to render visible the erratic and ultimately realistic behavior of sovereigns and subjects alike.

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