Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What is Shakespeare?

"Shakespeare Without His Language"

In “Shakespeare Without His Language,” Dennis Kennedy develops and expands upon the concept of a “foreign” Shakespeare – how productions have varied throughout the course of history, and across countries and continents, and how varying interpretations and change consequently establish such adaptations.

“Mr. Bardos answered ‘Of course it is a great honor and a challenge, but to tell you the truth, it’s strange to hear the text in English because I am used to the original version, translated by Janos Arany’” (Kennedy 1). 

“The cultural attitudes that inhere in the work, and that the Anglo-centered approach has assumed to be the common heritage of Shakespeare’s art, require not only linguistic translation but also cultural adaptation when they are transferred to a foreign environment” (2). 

“The connections and cultural connotations that derive form playing Shakespeare in his own land in his own tongue are simply not applicable in another country and in another language. Whereas Shakespeare has been a given in English for some centuries, readers and audiences in linguistically foreign environments had to find a desire for him” (3).

“…foreign Shakespeare is more present than ever before, interrogating the idea that Shakespeare can be contained by a single tradition or by a single culture or by a single language” (16).

“In the end Shakespeare doesn’t belong to any nation or anybody: Shakespeare is foreign to all of us” (16). 

"Shakespeare in the Bush"

In "Shakespeare in the Bush," Laura Bohannan shares her experience of hoping to "achieve the grace of correct interpretation" of Hamlet, via explaining the story to a local tribe in West Africa. But what exactly is the "correct" interpretation? She was certain that there was "only one possible interpretation, and that one universally obvious." Bohannan learns however, that not only are there more interpretations, but that people in general have a tendency to think that there is only one right way - their way.

"That is the way it is done, so that is how we do it"(Bohannan 68).

"Hamlet was again a good story to them, but it no longer seemed quite the same to me"(70).

"But it is clear that the elders of your country have never told you what the story really means"(70).

"But people are the same everywhere"(70).

"Listen," said the elder, "and I will tell you how it was and how your story will go, and you may tell me if I am right"(70).

"We, who are elders, will instruct you in the true meaning, so that when you return to your own land your elders will see that you have not been sitting in the bush, but among those who know things and who have taught you wisdom" (71).

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