Very interesting study of global interest in, expansion and implications of Shakespeare s works particularly that they were initially embraced a lot by Germany than UK, and adaptations translations in S Africa. I m very glad I picked up this book, and glad to have the extensive bibliography at the back of the book to continue exploring and discovering new things about Shakespeare in film and theatre around the world I can see myself going back to this book many times to uncover about Shakespeare s influence and how people all over the world interpret his works.Side notes The cover design on the copy I found was the one with the drawing of Shakespeare wearing backpacking gear which I found hilarious and awesome Oddly enough, as I was reading this book, the Folger Library s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast which I recommend released episodes about some of the same exact things Mr Dickson came across on his journeys the quotes from Sonny Venkatrathnam were quite different from what was said about his copy of the Complete Works in the episode about The Robben Island Bible, which was odd and made me laugh I can see why the episode talked about the widely held belief about the significance and interpretations of the signatures and chosen passages in the Bible, but Mr Dickson s interview with Mr Venkatrathnam showed me that those beliefs were nothing than that. A Book About How Shakespeare Became Fascinated With The World, And How The World Became Fascinated With Shakespeare The First Book Of Its KindThere Are Copies Of The First Folio In A Vault Beneath Capitol Hill, The World S Largest Collection Well Over Indian Movies Are Based On Shakespeare S Plays Than In Any Other Nation If Current Trends Continue, There Will Soon Be High School Students Reading The Merchant Of Venice In Mandarin Chinese Than In Early Modern English Why Did This Happen And How Ranging Ambitiously Across Four Continents And Years, Worlds Elsewhere Is An Eye Opening Account Of How Shakespeare Went Global Seizing Inspiration From The Playwright S Own Fascination With Travel, Foreignness And Distant Worlds, Dickson Takes Us On An Extraordinary Journey From Hamlet Performed By English Actors Tramping Through Poland In The Early S To Twenty First Century Shanghai, Where Shashibiya Survived Mao S Cultural Revolution To Become An Honored Chinese AuthorEn Route We Visit Nazi Germany, Where Shakespeare Became An Unlikely Favorite, And Delve Into The History Of Bollywood, Where Shakespearean Stories Helped Give Birth To Indian Cinema In Johannesburg, We Discover How Shakespeare Was Enlisted Into The Fight To End Apartheid In California, We Encounter Him As The Most Popular Playwright Of The American FrontierBoth A Cultural History And A Literary Travelogue, The First Of Its Kind, Worlds Elsewhere Explores How Shakespeare Became The World S Writer, And How His Works Have Changed Beyond All Recognition During The Journey Note I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads This book investigates the ways in which Shakespeare s works have been received, embraced, and reinterpreted around the globe The author recounts his travels to places like Germany, India, and South Africa a Shakespeare library in Washington, D.C and a city in Poland where a theatre director has built a replica of one of Shakespeare s theatres not the Globe , while also recounting a history of how Shakespeare s works have influenced the culture of those respective countries.I ll be honest I didn t finish this book I got about halfway through I thought I was interested in the subject matter when I started, but as layer upon layer of historical minutiae piled up, my will to continue reading drained away So I won t give the book a full review I don t think it s fair to do that with a book I didn t finish.I don t actually think it s a bad book, and the level of scholarship is impressive But, if you re considering reading it, you need to be sure you have a deep and abiding interest in the subject This isn t a book to approach with a casual attitude of this sounds interesting I think I ll give it a try. What do Germans think of Shakespeare How is Shakespeare acted in India How long have Shakespeare plays been performed in China These are some of the questions addressed in this fascinating book British literary critic Andrew Dickson had the opportunity to travel to Poland, Germany, the United States, India, South Africa, and China to learn about the study and performance of Shakespeare in those countries This review can barely scratch the surface of what I learned from reading this book For instance, Shakespeare inspired Germans like Goethe and Schiller In the nineteenth century, Germans adopted him as our Shakespeare, a North European, spiritually German writer During World War I, Germans even produced Henry V, a play generally used to inspire British troops, to inspire German patriotism Of course British colonialism is one reason Shakespeare spread so widely But different countries have revised the plays in their own image, and translations are often adaptations For example, one Chinese translation of Antony and Cleopatra is titled The Henpecked Lover The plays that are most popular in Britain and the United States are not necessarily the most popular in other countries Dickson is always open to different interpretations of the plays For him, the variety illustrates the vitality of Shakespeare s works Dickson s writing is engaging I m jealous of his experiences, but I learned from this book. This book offers a look at how Shakespeare s plays are performed and interpreted all over the world I enjoyed the glimpses into life in faraway places, such as India, China, and South Africa I also enjoyed all the new ways of looking at such familiar works The author did a lot of research and travel, which is great, but it also meant that the book was rather long and felt somewhat tedious to read at some points.I received this book as a Goodreads First Read Yay Sometimes I pick a book by its cover or title, especially nonfiction, as that can be enough to interest me I certainly did that with this book The shocking surprise was that it wasn t at all about what I thought it would be I was expecting history of the world during the time of Shakespeare Instead, I was thrilled to find myself swept away for an epic journey around the world to find the works of Shakespeare and how they are produced, received, taught, etc from Germany to Taiwan Andrew Dickson s narration of his experience and his inclusion of himself in the narrative of the book was perfect It felt like having a conversation with a friend or colleague about their amazing project, which I suppose it was Truly fascinating to see how universal and lasting Shakespeare is and how some is not in spite of cultural, political, and time differences Ready to pull out my complete works and read some of the plays I haven t yet I have to admit that I chose this book mainly out of obligation as a person with two degrees in English But what I found was completely unexpected The author travels the globe Germany, India, South Africa, China, the United States to explore how different countries and cultures interpret and reinterpret Shakespeare s words So interesting I didn t know the Germany is home to the oldest Shakespeare club in the world It had never occurred to me how Othello might play out in apartheid South Africa Even things like how to say Shakespeare s name in Chinese So many details Listening to this book made me want to read Shakespeare all over again. The range and scope of this rather hefty tome has a certain wow factor for anyone interested in its subject the extent to which Shakespeare s works have been able to be fruitfully transferred and meaningfully adapted to other places and cultures on the globe Such an esoteric subject will not necessarily appeal to all but that is neither here nor there.There is no doubt that the appeal of Shakespeare is increasingly widespread globally, and Dickson attempts to come to grips with this phenomenon In the process, many associated issues e.g political, social, humanistic, etc come to the fore, and while for the most part they might be raised only in passing, the discussion of each issue raised does not necessarily provide for totally satisfactory explanations indeed, in many cases they may raise even intriguing questions in the mind of the reader Be that as it may, the very raising of these issues does point to a need to understand just what it is about Shakespeare that appears to be so appealing to so many.Dickson s approach is to limit his initial researches to five distinct and diverse locations Poland Germany the United States India South Africa and China Part of the pleasure of this work is that it consists in a kind of travelogue taken by the author to each of these locations , so that in each case, we are seeing those countries from a modern perspective often enough a fascinating process in itself.Once there, his next step is to try to locate any preferably historic theatrical centres having some records of past histories, and following these as far as possible in his limited time, to what accounts, if any, have been kept This adds a necessarily brief foray into for the most part obscure past Where this is not always readily available, he conducts interviews with modern day enthusiasts as to what they can recall, and how they might contribute to his subject matter This also provides fascinating insights of a kind different to actual historical records.Finally, during his stay in these locations, the author will attempt to arrange for him to attend a contemporary rendition of a Shakespeare play, and briefly explores the effect, not only on himself, but also on the relevant audiences.Dickson acquits himself quite well in broaching his immense task he makes a pleasant companion for the reader and weirdly, while no ultimate overriding reason for Shakespeare s popularity leaps out at us, one gets a good sense of what audiences in different countries found find appealing about his plays Perennial questions, such as the always perplexing one of how translations of the works into different languages, might affect what we might mean by Shakespeare are raised classic cases are dealt with, especially in the history relating to South African attempts at translations similar adaptations to local cultural colour such as is found in India and China etc but the overall effect remains the same whatever the problems these issues might raise, there is no doubt that the core of the plays the original texts still provide punch and significance wherever and whenever they are produced Also fascinating is the fact that certain of these texts appear to have had particular preferential relevance over others in different locations at different times but why this was is so is still an intriguing subject possibly needing further study A final word needs to be said the huge scope of this work necessarily means that much of the political, social and humanistic aspects of the various countries visited must be comparatively shallow , and it is inevitable that not every instance ever occurring could be accounted for So there are absences This should not deter potential readers if anything it might stimulate them to follow Dickson s lead and explore further according to their own interests.That being said, some omissions might cause some worry Dickson, while primarily interested in the theatrical expressions of Shakespeare s works, does not and indeed cannot exclude any reference to films of these works and he does provide many examples of these throughout the book Even so, I was a little disappointed that there is no reference to the Russian director Grigori Kozintsev s stunning Hamlet 1964 but perhaps a little perplexed that, while Dickson does include references to Japanese director Akira Kurosawa s take on Macbeth Throne of Blood 1957 and his take on Hamlet The Bad Sleep Well 1960 but that no reference is made to his take on King Lear Ran 1985 Odd.But really, these are comparatively minor concerns, I would think If anything, Dickson should be congratulated on providing us with a fascinating and illuminating excursion into relatively unchartered territory, and for being such a charming guide in the process. This is an interesting and enjoyable book I had the honor to be a guest lecturer on Elizabethan drama to the graduate English class at Kangwon National University in South Korea in 1983 I became very aware of different interpretations of Shakespeare from different cultural, language and ethnic backgrounds Andrew Dickson has expanded on the cultural clash and admiration for Shakespeare worldwide, by examining it from the perspectives of different countries, different political situations and different time periods.Shakespeare was popular, surprisingly so, in the USA during the 19th century, where printed copies were read out loud to illiterate mountain men and stage productions were a favorite recreation in the gold rush days of California.In Germany, Shakespeare was popular almost from the time of the original plays, through the German romantic period, and into a major problem for the Nazis.In India, Shakespeare came along with English colonization, and has been popular in the native translations and adaptations than most Europeans had ever known Some of the earliest films, and many of the successful theatre productions in India have been based on Shakespeare s plays, dialogue and characters.I had not known that one of the earlier black South African journalists, linguist and political activists, Solomon Plaatje, had translated Shakespeare into his native language, Setswana, and perhaps this is the first translation into any African language at all Dickson also pursues the story behind the Robben Island Bible , a copy of Shakespeare s plays that had belonged to Sonny Venkatrathathnam, and had the signatures of many of the political prisoners held at the infamous Robben Island, including Nelson Mandela An interesting account is how Shakespeare was used to undermine apartheid as well.The author then travels to China, where he examines the history of Shakespeare in translation and adaption to Chinese theater traditions.The book is easy to read and the information is presented well However, there is a great deal here that wanders from the main topic, and the hundred page plus chapters needed a good editor to cut them down and to make them concise Also, while this had a great deal of information on the history of film, live theater and Shakespeare in these countries, the cultural adaptation and changes of interpretation get short changed as well I wish that had been given of how African and Chinese interpretations had been written, rather than just toss off lines about King Lear given a happy ending or Othello actually being about class warfare Perhaps another book could be written about Shakespeare in these countries, but rather than interviewing film directors and actors, the author could interview teachers and film critics about how well adaptations are or aren t received And also it would be wonderful if this had been expanded to cover Russian and Eastern European productions, especially during the Soviet era, and in South America and other colonial countries as well.The book has an excellent bibliography of primary and secondary sources, as well as film productions from these countries There is also an excellent index as well However, for a scholastic book, there are no footnotes, and for a non scholastic book there is some specialized jargon and sometimes verbose language that can be off putting, especially for readers where English is a second language..I recommend this book for serious students of Shakespeare for high school, community college and university libraries where there is a good dramatic arts program, especially with multi national students and of course for advanced English studies departments everywhere This book is also a must read book for any English or drama professor or actor or director who will work or teach in another country, even if only temporarily.
Hello I m an author and critic who writes regularly for the Guardian and a number of other publications, including the New Yorker and the New Statesman.My new book about Shakespeare s global influence, Worlds Elsewhere Journeys Around Shakespeare s Globe, is published in the UK by Bodley Head Vintage and in the US by Henry Holt.I m also the author of the Globe Guide to Shakespeare, and also cont
- 496 pages
- Worlds Elsewhere
- Andrew Dickson
- 10 August 2018 Andrew Dickson