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2008 | 62 | 1(280) | 95-100
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'EACH SHAKESPEAREAN ADAPTATION BRINGS ABOUT A DISPUTATION' - JULIUSZ OSTERWA'S HAMLET ('Kazdy szekspirowski twór - wywoluje spór', czyli o Hamlecie Juliusza Osterwy)

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In this article, the authoress presents Osterwa's paraphrase of Shakespeare's tragedy in the context of other Polish adaptations and translations. The essay outlines Osterwa's approach to Shakespeare's most famous drama and explains the artistic decisions which led to this particular interpretation of the history of Danish Prince. The founding father of the Reduta theatre wrote his adaptation in 1940, a time of crisis for the nation and in his personal life. Osterwa's interpretation was strongly influenced not only by the harsh realities of the time but also by his innovative theatrical ideas, which were then just beginning to crystallize. Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark is transformed into a Polish Prince of wartime. Osterwa presents him as an example of one attitude to action and war which a human being can choose in such times (the contrast to Hamlet's position being those of Antigone, Boleslaw the Bold in Stanislaw Wyspianski's drama and the Constant Prince in Juliusz Slowacki's tragedy). Moreover, Osterwa criticizes the hesitancy and immaturity of Shakespeare's Prince, concluding that there was no room for 'Hamlets' in 1940. The Hamlet of Osterwa's adaptation is reaching maturity and preparing to face his destiny and, ultimately, his own death. Such an interpretation derives from Osterwa placing the plot in the context of Polish literature (he makes use of Wyspianski's translations of Hamlet's monologues and incorporates some poetical extracts from his Study of Hamlet) and Polish reality (for example, by 'polonising' the setting, the characters and the language, using quotations from Polish literature, proverbs or colloquial Polish). All this gives Osterwa's work its sense of innovation and creates an entirely new interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy.
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  • Wanda Swiatkowska, address not given contact the journal editor
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