Shakespeare in Poland

The series of articles entitled “Shakespeare in Poland: Selected Issues” were written by prof. Krystyna Kujawińska Courney for INTERNET SHAKESPEARE EDITIONS – “Shakespeare around the Globe”, a project completed under the patronage of University of Victoria (2002-2004). ISBN: 1-55058-302-6.

The project includes the following articles:

Australia : Dr .Richard Madelaine and Dr. John Golder (University of New South Wales) “To dote thus on such luggage”: Appropriating Shakespeare in Australia

Canada : Dr. Irena R. Makaryk (University of Ottawa) Shakespeare in Canada: “a world elsewhere”?

China : Dr. Ruru Li (University of Leeds) Shakespeare in China: Old Man Sha in the Middle Kingdom

France : Professor Jean-Marie Maguin (Université de Montpellier III) Shakespeare Studies in France since 1960

Italy : Prof. Michele Marrapodi (University of Palermo) Shakespeare Studies in Italy

India : Dr. Sukanta Chaudhuri (Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India) Shakespeare in India

Poland : Dr. Krystyna Kujawinska Courtney (University of Lodz, Poland) Shakespeare in Poland

Québec : Dr. Leanore Lieblein (McGill University) Shakespeare in Francophone Québec

South Africa : Dr. Laurence Wright (Rhodes University) From Farce to Shakespeare: Shakespeare on the South African Stage and An archive of performance materials from Yael Farber’s SeZaR  (2001), a South African adaptation of Julius Caesar.

POLISH SHAKESPEARE

As early as in 1623, in his posthumous ode Ben Jonson observed that Shakespeare as an artist  “was not of an age, but for all time”. These very words have proved to be nearly prophetic. Although Shakespeare died almost four hundred years ago, his life and writings in particular attract unwavering attention among people of all trades: historians, literature theoreticians, people of film and theatre, students, as well as readers who take true pleasure in his works. Shakespeare has also been a part of Polish culture. The artistic aspect of his works – the language, wide thematic range and polyphonic quality – has rendered him a canonical writer. Even in our cultural context some refer to him as the “the most national Polish playwright”. Few writers or poets of the canonical reading lists gained popularity equal to that of Shakespeare. His works amassed incomparable amount of editions, theatrical performances and adaptations, whether in literature, film or theatre. No other writer is quoted as frequently as Shakespeare, both in colloquial and official speech.

In the last decade, the popularity of Shakespeare and his writings has increased considerably in Poland. Numerous film or theatre adaptations directed by, among others, Krzysztof Warlikowski and Krystiana Lupa, have appeared, and new translations were published. In line with audience demand, Shakespeare has become an integral part of the tradition of the Polish stage. What is more, his works inspire a variety of Polish writers and poets whose works are based upon the motifs drawn from the Bard’s plays, Roman Taborski’s collection being a perfect example.

Shakespeare’s writings is a significant research area frequently explored by Polish literature experts. A number of critical works by Jacek Fabiszak, Marta Gibińska, Krystyna Kujawińska-Courtney, Jerzy Limon, Małgorzata Sugiera, and others, published over the last decade are of vital importance in worldwide  Shakespeare studies. Shakespeare’s popularity is also visible in the large number of doctoral theses whose authors deal with the reception of Shakespeare’s writings in Poland.

So far, only two Polish Shakespearean bibliographies were published. The first is Shakespeare w Polsce (Shakespeare in Poland. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1956) by Wiktor Hahn. It presents Shakespeare’s presence in Poland since the initial performances of his writings in Gdansk until 1956. The other publication, Polska Bibliografia Szekspirowska 1989-2000 (Polish Shakespeare Bibliography), edited by professor Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, records the reception of Shakespeare’s works in the last twenty years of the 20th century. This bibliography emerged as a result of research done by the members of the Interdisciplinary Academic Research Team ” Shakespeare’s Role in Polish and World Culture” (the predecessor of ISSC) at the University of Lodz. It is but one of many accomplishments of the resiliently working team of researchers under the leadership of professor Kujawińska Courtney.

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