"Is it nobler to put up with the mess that life slings at us?"
Title: Answers to Rhetorical Questions
Author: Caroline Taggart
Publisher: Michael O'Mara/Hachette India
Pages: 160, price: `250
Questions may seem incomplete without answers but responding to some particular ones, say "To be or not to be?", "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?", or even "You talkin' to me?" (for Robert De Niro fans) may seem pointless, if not impossible. Is it?
Theoretically yes, for these particular ones and their ilk belong to a class known as rhetorical questions, or those which don't "expect or require an answer" due to their use for dramatic effect.
But that doesn't still stop Caroline Taggart from dealing with a raft of them, drawn from all forms of culture, ranging from philosophy to TV serials, science, religion, psychology, economics and more with ready and rapid wit and keen insight.
Rhetorical questions, says freelance editor-turned-author Taggart, are all around, from the Bible (right from the beginning when Cain poses a rhetorical counter-question: "Am I my brother's keeper?") to popular songs, and range from the "deep and meaningful" to the "anxious" to the "frivolous".
However, "what they have in common is that someone, somewhere, has thought them worth asking and -- by definition been left without a satisfactory response", she says, adding she has tried to remedy the deficiency in a "sensible, no-nonsense way".
"After all, when it comes to the crunch, do you really want someone to compare you to a summer's day? How many beans do you think make five? Does your brother need a keeper?" she asks.
To take the questions listed first, we find that for the first - from Hamlet's famous soliloquy, which can be restated in contemporary language as "Is it nobler to put up with the crap that life slings at us or to decide that enough is enough?", a million people a year, as per WHO, go for the second option. However, Taggart goes on to note how Hamlet himself notes the lack of information about its aftermath as have done several people since.