Shakespeare Without His Language by Dennis Kennedy
Shakespeare’s appeal is universal – however, it must be noted that Shakespeare’s plays, when translated into another language, are slightly different. The cultural meanings and traditions that are incorporated in the text may not work in another region, as well as losing some of the quick wit conveyed through the language. The translations, while losing some of the more sophisticated word play and language, may be easier from which to discern the meaning of the play. Throughout time, the way Shakespeare is preformed has also changed. Due to different historical events, such as the Holocaust, the Cold War, Shakespeare’s works took on different messages, in addition to evolutions in the way plays were performed. Additionally, different interpretations were caused by different views of philosophers and writers who helped modernize Shakespeare. For example, Kott’s interpretation of Shakespeare was fatalistic, while Weimann viewed it as a way to incite change.
“Yet Shakespeare, by far the most popular playwright in England and North America, is actually the most preformed playwright in the world at large” (2)
Thus Shakespearean performance after the war… tended to discover contemporary themes and to stress the spectator’s inclusion in those themes. (13)
Shakespeare in the Bush by Laura Bohannon
This passage tells of an American anthropologist’s attempt to convey the story of Hamlet to a village in Africa. The story is told in the village’s native language, and many thing become lost in translation. For example, the villagers do not understand the concept of a ghost, instead believing that the vision of Hamlet’s father is an omen, nor the concept of drowning, which they profess as impossible and obviously the fault of witchcraft. They approved of Hamlet's uncle marrying his mother, claiming it was well done and in accordance with African culture. Neither do they understand the idea of insanity, but instead are convinced that Hamlet's madness is a sign of witchcraft and thus he cannot be held accountable for his actions. Different customs caused the story to have different issues as well as assign different motives. When told in this different environment, the story picks up new meaning about the poor decisions, common sense, and the role of youngsters and elders and their interactions.
“A man-who-sees-the-truth could have told him how his father died, if he really had been poisoned, and if there was witchcraft in it; then Hamlet could have called the elders to settle the matter” (7)
“Hamlet was again a good story to them, but it no longer seemed quite the same story to me.” (8)