Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare's Globe
Henry Holt and Company
April 5, 2016
Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
A book about how Shakespeare became fascinated with the world, and how the world became fascinated with Shakespeare - the first book of its kind There are 83 copies of the First Folio in a vault beneath Capitol Hill, the world's largest collection. Well over 150 Indian movies are based on Shakespeare's plays-more than in any other nation. If current trends continue, there will soon be more high-school students reading The Merchant of Venice in Mandarin Chinese than in early-modern English.Why did this happen-and how? Ranging ambitiously across four continents and 400 years, Worlds Elsewhere is an eye-opening account of how Shakespeare went global. Seizing inspiration from the playwright's own fascination with travel, foreignness and distant worlds, Dickson takes us on an extraordinary journey-from Hamlet performed by English actors tramping through Poland in the early 1600s to twenty-first-century Shanghai, where Shashibiya survived Mao's Cultural Revolution to become an honored Chinese author. En route we visit Nazi Germany, where Shakespeare became an unlikely favorite, and delve into the history of Bollywood, where Shakespearian stories helped give birth to Indian cinema. In Johannesburg, we discover how Shakespeare was enlisted into the fight to end apartheid. In California, we encounter him as the most popular playwright of the American frontier. Both a cultural history and a literary travelogue, the first of its kind, Worlds Elsewhere explores how Shakespeare became the world's writer, and how his works have changed beyond all recognition during the journey.
My grandpa used to say “you learn something new everyday”
Andrew Dickson made sure of that ever time I opened World’s Elsewhere. I’ve always enjoyed literature and even took an upper level Brit Lit class as an elective in college. So while I have some experience with Shakespeare, I knew there was probably much I didn’t know. But like a lot of people, I assumed that an extensive look at Shakespeare’s influence would be a somewhat dry read. I didn’t doubt that I would become more knowledgeable, I just figured I would have to push through the book.
I should have followed the old adage…
Dickson undertook the daunting task of following Shakespeare’s work around the world. Not only were his journey’s amazing, but the discovery of where Shakespeare’s works took root and the impact it had on local playwrights and cultures was astonishing. Many countries embraced the timeless tales, both preserving and/or adapting them. Probably the most interesting fact I learned was that while the English like to lay claim to Shakespeare, it was really the Germans who, from the beginning, embraced his plays and have, for centuries, been the great caretakers of all things Shakespeare.
While the plethora of information alone would be enough to recommend Worlds Elsewhere, it is Dickson’s clear and easy to read writing style that gives it the five star rating. It is his writing with the average person in mind, that convinced me of his passion for Shakespeare and desire to share the impact this amazing playwright has had around the world. I guess this worldwide influence is fitting for a man whose professional home was The Globe.
Until recently, Tanya was a bathroom bibliophile (the only place she could hide from her four children). Now she is able to openly acknowledge her addiction to books but has to try to fit her reading in around all her kid's activities. She loves being wife to an amazing man, mother to four great kids and farm hand on their Akaushi/Red Angus farm in southwest Missouri.