Where Everyone is Hamlet: Staging Shakespeare as Political Resistance in China  

Literary Hub, November 13, 2023

Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” may appear an unusual choice for a revolutionary chant, but it was used by Chinese protestors. When they recited those lines of poetry, they partook, unknowingly or not, in a longstanding national tradition of using Shakespeare as a symbol of political resistance in China and elsewhere.

     As the scholar Alexa Alice Joubin interprets in her 2021 book Shakespeare and East Asia, Lin Zhaohua’s 1989 Hamlet, for example, reflects a distinctly post-Tiananmen perspective in China – a world of greater cultural uncertainty and pessimism about the prospect of change, “where everyone is Hamlet”.

     This news story was written by Vikram Nijhawan who examines Shakespeare’s role in 20th-century China.

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