Janet Clare and Dominique Goy-Blanquet’s co-edited volume, Migrating Shakespeare: First European Encounters, Routes and Networks, traces “waves of migration” of people and of Shakespeare’s texts Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Covering a larger swath of continental Europe, case studies in Migrating Shakespeare cohere around the idea of cultural assimilation and map the influence of trade and travel on textual migrations.
The migration of Shakespeare is not always a rosy undertaking, oscillating between eulogization and rejection of the Bard. On one hand, “the first decades of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of an entire generation whose ambition, inspired by August Wilhelm von Schlegel, was to become Shakespeare translators and critical authorities” (8). On the other hand, “French cultural hegemony” became an obstacle to the localization of “Shakespeare’s rule-defying and poetically hybrid dramaturgy” (9).
While such stories of the migration of Shakespeare are enticing, this volume makes a welcome effort to distinguish between theatrical and literary migrations of Shakespeare’s plays, arguing that in European theater circles the reception of Shakespeare is more positive than in the literary circles
Positivist and antithetical patterns coexist in early European reception of Shakespeare. This book successfully demonstrates the multilingual and multicultural nature of the transmission of Shakespeare’s texts within a context where cultural meanings are relational.