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The views of Marx and Engels on Shakespeare, one of their favourite writers, is the subject of this paper. The author compares these views with those of outstanding 18th and 19th century writers and critics, the aim being to find what was new and original in Marx and Engels' interpretation of Shakespeare and his epoch.

The re-evaluation of Shakespeare which went on during the life of Marx and Engels was particularly evident in German literature. In the 18th century, Lessing, Herder and Goethe drew inspiration from Shakespeare in their effort to create a national German literature. They looked upon Shakespeare as a great national poet, and his characters as people with strength and nobility of spirit, filled with love of humanity German studies of Shakespeare after 1848 are marked by a new spirit. Gervinus adapts Shakespeare's dramas to the tastes of the Bismark era, presenting them as models of sobriety, opposed to extremes.

Marx and Engels ridiculed the nationalistic tendencies in German Shakespeare studies of their day. They took up arms against all forms of stolid philistine "criticism" of Shakespeare. Their own approach, based on the principles of historical materialism was a new departure in Shakespeare study. Marx and Engels base themselves on the fact that Shakespeare's time was the initial stage in the history of capitalist England, when its many social contradictions first made themselves sharply felt. Shakespeare presents many social phenomena from the standpoint of the English yeomen, who were the mainstay of 15th and 16th century agricultural England, and who were stern critics of the power of money and the failings of the ruling classes of the time. In letters to Lassalle, Marx and Engels pointed out distinctive features in the realism of Shakespeare (and Renaissance writers generally), traits distinguishing them from later writers. In their opinion, the dramas of Shakespeare were superior in their realism to works by Schiller, since unlike Schiller, Shakespeare looks upon social contention not only as a clash of ideas. He senses the link between ideas and material interests; he gives a broader and more profound portrayal of the people as the moving force of the historical process.

In the final section of the paper, the author gives quotations and commentary of observations by Marx and Engels on specific works of Shakespeare, "Hamlet" in particular. The author traces the use by the founders of Marxism of Shakespearean phraseology and figures of speech for purposes of satire, drawing upon his language in political struggle and literary polemics.


The author traces the evolution of Shakespeare studies in the Soviet Union and the present state of Shakespearean study. The paper also presents the various conceptions of Shakespeare's art contained in works by Soviet scholars.

Soviet Shakespearean scholars have drawn upon what is best in Russian and foreign studies. Work in Shakespeare in this country has always centred upon the social and historical meaning of Shakespeare's art, with due regard to questions of artistic form. A. Lunacharsky gives us a picture of Shakespeare on the background of Renaissance life; V. Friche and P. Kogan discuss Shakespeare's art as an element in the social movements of his time. A. Smirnov was the first to speak of Shakespeare as a vehicle of the ideas of humanist philosophy.

The author of this paper commends the originality of these views, but points out their vulgar sociological tendency. The movement away from this trend began in the thirties, and in an essay by V. Kemenov we find a conception of Shakespeare as the expression of the people's soul, which became a cornerstone in further Shakespeare studies in this country. The paper traces the evolution of this conception of art as the expression of a people's spirit, pointing out different views which have been and are being advanced, for example, in works by A. Smirnov, I. Wertzman, L. Pinsky and A. Anikst.

Analysis of studies of Shakespeare's historical plays by A. Smirnov, I. Wertzman, O. Ilinsky, L. Pinsky, A. Anikst and other scholars leads to the conclusion that in spite of considerable variety of views, Soviet research workers are united in denying the existence of aristocratic tendencies in Shakespeare. The effort has been to analyse the histories as a reflection of actual contradictions in the life of the country.

The tragedies are taken as an outstanding theme in Shakespeare investigation, as may be seen in essays by V. Kemenov, A. Smirnov, N. Berkovsky and L. Pinsky, where various explanations of their source are advanced. However, all Soviet scholars agree that tragedy in Shakespeare stems from the .social conditions created by the transition from feudalism to capitalism.

In the final section of the paper, E. Kornilova speaks of works on Shakespeare's language and mode of writing. Attention is drawn to M. Morozov's efforts to bring together Soviet criticism and the work of the theatre. Also discussed here is Y. Yuzovsky's analysis of the reasons for Soviet audiences' love of Shakespeare and his characters.

A. Anikst: "HAMLET"

While the tragedy raises political and ethical problems, it is concerned above all with man's relations to life and death. Although "Hamlet" is undoubtedly a great play, the chief attraction lies not in the outward action, but what goes on in the mind of the hero. We relate the ideas he expresses to our experience, rather than to Hamlet's.

Death hangs over the entire play. But the subject of the tragedy is not death as a biological phenomenon. Beginning with the murder of the elder Hamlet, all the deaths in the tragedy are unnatural, brought about through evil intervening in human relations.

A striking manifestation of Hamlet's philosophical trend of mind is his generalisation of his own misfortune, the fact that he looked upon his own suffering not as an isolated phenomenon, but as one of the consequences of evil dominating in life. In his famous soliloquy, he even does not mention personal reasons for posing the question of what is nobler in the mind. He thinks rather of other manifestations of evil, of the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, the law's delay, the insolence of office-all of them social evils (with the exception of the pangs of despised love). It is through the hero himself that the tragedy assumes its social magnitude.

The social impact of the play is clear from numerous statements showing what is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark, what makes the country the worst of prisons. The philosophical content of the tragedy thus becomes inseparable from its social motives.

With regard to the two major solutions of the Hamlet problem in criticism, the author asserts that both those who consider the hero a person without will, irresolute and inactive, and those who regard him as a strong personality simplify the character of the hero. He suggests that the most convincing analysis of the character and of the tragedy of Hamlet was given by the great Russian critic, Vissarion Belinsky, in his essay, "Shakespeare's Tragedy 'Hamlet' and Mochalov in the role of Hamlet" written in 1838.

Belinsky takes a dialectical view of Hamlet's personality. The first stage of the hero's development was marked by what Belinsky describes as an infantile harmony with life, based on absence of knowledge of reality. Then comes the catastrophe that disrupts this harmony, and we see Hamlet in a tragic mood, tormented by his awareness of the evils and contradictions of life. Finally, the hero achieves a new harmony-with himself, if not with the world, the harmony of a courageous acceptance of life as a stern reality to which one must oppose a staunch belief in the basic human ideals.

In his discussion of another famous Russian essay on the tragedy, Turgeniev's "Hamlet and Don Quixote" (1860), the author opposes the novelist's contention that they represent two different types of man, the altruist and the egoist. It is a mistake to see in Hamlet a person concerned with himself alone. In fact, both heroes are gripped by the same passion to correct the world, and both of them attempt to do so single-handed. It is true that the Spanish knight is mad, while the Danish prince only feigns madness, but both exemplify a state in society when humanistic thought lacked popular support.

The tragedy of Hamlet is a tragedy characteristic of certain historical periods, when reactionary forces were in power, and only a small fraction of society thought how to drag humanity out of the abyss. The fate of those who carried on the struggle in such periods was tragic, but their sufferings were not in vain. These noble sufferers paved the way for the liberation of mankind from all forms of oppression, inhumanity and social evil.


The medieval and the Renaissance intermingle in the play, and the author of this study fights attempts both in literary criticism and in poetry to envelop Hamlet in an atmosphere of mythology, and to look upon him from the more archaic standpoint of .medievalism. The paper is written in opposition to such attempts at an antihistorical interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy.

In the first section, entitled "Corporeal Vision and Spiritual Vision", the author refers to Leonardo da Vinci's "Treatise on Painting", written in praise of the artistic Eye, as a source of knowledge. On the contrary, Shakespeare's work in the period when the tragedies were written is marked by disbelief in the power of the Eye and its beautiful offspring-painting. In an article entitled "Shakespeare und kein Ende", Goethe says that Shakespeare's works were written "not for corporeal eyes."

No painting could express the disharmony of vital sense and outward appearance characteristic of 16th and 17th century England. Hamlet's approach is intensety moral. He is the philosopher discovering the immorality of his social milieu, his gaze falls upon a faded, lifeless physical world.

Not until his last plays ("A Winter's Tale," "Cymbeline") does Shakespeare find anything in nature to delight the eye. The mild plays of the last period are an escape from the cruel conflicts of history. In their happy endings Shakespeare proclaims his faith in man's possible harmony with actuality.

The final section of the paper, "Hamlet and Hamletism" points out that historical progress removes the foundation of Hamlet's idea of a dead end to history. However, although theorizing over Hamlet's pessimism has lost all significance, Hamlet still retains his significance as a searching mind and a violent opponent of falsehood, self-satisfaction and lethargy.

The author of this paper gives a positive appraisal of observations on "Hamlet" contained in studies and interpretations by Goethe, Belinsky, Herzen, Hazlitt and Hugo. He takes exception to such modern interpretations as that of the German existentionalist philosopher Carl Jaspers, who finds the most profound meaning of the play in Hamlet's dying words: "The rest is silence. " This, the author maintains, is a complete distortion. The critical mind finds expression not in silence, but in spirited, impassioned speech, filling men with noble indignation at the appearance of evil in any form.

The author sees the true significance of the tragedy's final scene in Hamlet's request to Horatio, to hand on his story to future generations of mankind. Hamlet today is part of the soul of every honest man capable of critical thought, and this part of our soul is no less dear to us than our great creative optimism. The paper closes with the words: "juggling with Hamlet's pessimism is dead, while Hamlet himself lives on."


At the most significant points in the poetry of "Hamlet", the author speaks daggers.

Complexity and simplicity are interwoven in the poetic fabric: complexity, the result of Shakespeare's effort to penetrate into unseen historical processes, invisible developments within the human soul; simplicity, because here what is unseen is brought to light.

Distorted public and personal relationships unfold before Hamlet, a world where everything vital and fruitful perishes and where greed and deceit and baseness flourish. Death is one of the basic themes of the play. It is felt long before the graveyard scene, and not only the skull of Yorick exudes an odour of decay. The words "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" have broad significance: the prison-state is rotting.

Hamlet cannot countenance falsehood. He himself speaks the truth, in words that cut like daggers.

The presence of a ghost in the tragedy does nothing to lower its realistic value. The author of this paper supports John Dover Wilson's view, that Shakespeare's ghost is no mystic spectre, rather a personage of the play, with human thoughts and feelings. He is a herald of the calamities that have befallen the state.

The spirit of Wittenberg, where Hamlet studied, is significant not only with relation to his past, but to his present character as well. Connected with that spirit is the heroe's philosophic searching, but he also knows things that are not dreamt of in philosophy.

No other play of Shakespeare raises to such heights the principles of humanism. Thomas Beard said of Marlowe that he gave "too large a swing to his own wit." "Hamlet" symbolises the end of the era of those who indulged in too much free thinking. In the time that followed, to think meant to suffer.

Hamlet discovers the world he lives in, he discovers the inner soul of his mother and his beloved, the conscience of his friends, the thoughts of the courtiers. He discovers himself. His last discovery is - Osric. A humanist, proclaiming the majesty of Man, Hamlet faces a parody of mankind. It is then that he dies, for he cannot continue to live, knowing everything he has discovered.

We do not see the message of the play in the heroe's inactivity. On the contrary, the play is a spur to action, an alarm to awaken men's conscience.


M. Astangov, the outstanding Soviet actor, speaks of what Hamlet has meant to him and of his understanding of the part of the Danish prince. In his youth, M. Astangov saw Hamlet acted by such great players as V. Kachalov, M. Chekhov and Alexander Moissi, and writes of the impressions they made on him.

Astangov sees the essence of the tragedy in the change from Hamlet's idyllic life before the events of the play to his terrible disillusionment and sense of death.

As the action develops, Hamlet passes from disillusionment to bitter sarcasm, and in the last acts, to action. Thus, the tragedy gives us his character in its development.


Devices of psychological analysis which much later were to bear rich fruit in literature may already be discerned in Shakespeare. It is only natural that Shakespeare's hero, swayed by conflicting thoughts should plunge into self-searching. Much in the play is given vague expression, at times bordering on the obscure; and this shifting quality is the true reflection of a young mind that fills with resolve, which immediately begins to seep away into the doubt and self-analysis familiar to modern man. In "King Lear" too, we may observe a similar complexity in the verbal expression of ideas, an effort to endow words with meanings for which no word has yet been found, with what has not yet been brought into conscious experience and therefore cannot be clearly expressed. The underlying current of Shakespearean tragedy is so swift and so complex that the language of the characters cannot keep abreast of it.

The paper reviews stagings of Shakespeare's tragedy by Max Reinhardt, one of the most outstanding directors in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. In the space of forty years, Reinhardt produced twenty-two plays by the great dramatist, many staged a number of times in different settings. Reinhardt gave four stagings of "Hamlet", in 1909, 1910, 1913 and 1920.

The first production was presented at the Munich Art Theatre and later removed to the Deutsche Theater in Berlin. Cast in the role of Hamlet was Alexander Moissi. Reinhardt here presents the tragedy as arising out of the destruction of a man's ideals.

In 1910, Reinhardt gave a new version of the play in Berlin, casting Albert Basserman as Hamlet. In place of the former lyric, suffering, rebellious Hamlet, the audience was given a strong, decisive character, fighting for the throne of which he was deprived. That this interpretation did not satisfy the director himself may be seen by the fact that in 1913 he restaged the play, again casting Moissi as Hamlet. Moissi's interpretation here has a Tolstoyan tinge;

Hamlet is not so much the champion of truth as a searcher for truth. He is given not as a man with a medieval code of morals, but as the inhabitant of a large modern city. This interpretation of Hamlet, coming just before the outbreak of World War I, had a definitely modern ring.

Reinhardt's last staging of "Hamlet" was in 1920 at the so-called "circus-theatre", a hall seating five thousand. In an effort to meet the requirements of this giant audience and to give a more popular version, the director cut the script considerably, thereby lowering the idea-content of the tragedy. Critics were unanimous in their adverse appraisal of the version. Whatever the faults of Reinhardt's different productions of "Hamlet", his experiments have enriched the stage tradition of the play.


The paper is a commentary on the play, intended for directors, actors and scenic artists.

Modern stagings of "Hamlet" at times continue outmoded scenic traditions of the 19th century. Such productions ignore successes attained by Shakespearean scholars in many countries, in clearing up the meaning of passages obscured by time.

We may see clear indications in "Hamlet" of Shakespeare's intention to proclaim new principles of theatrical art. In this sense, the tragedy is a polemic and pioneer work.

The play should be viewed on the historical background of Shakespeare's epoch. Details given of life in the epoch, as well as the character and conduct of the personages compensate for lack of precision in the script and simplify the task of comprehending the events.

Part I of the paper gives a brief survey of the epoch, including England's political situation in 1600-1601, and descriptions of the dress, manners and psychology of the people. Part II is a detailed analysis of all the characters in the play, from imagined biographies down to descriptions of their outward appearance and dress. The complex relationships between the characters is discussed here. Part III contains an analysis of certain scenes: the meeting of the King's Council; the arrival of the actors and their performance; the graveyard and the funeral of Ophelia; the duel scene.


In his review, the author discusses operas on Shakespeare themes, in particular "The Taming of the Shrew".

An outline is given of traditions in the interpretation and staging of the comedy in Russia; and a discussion of these traditions in the work of libretto writer A. Hozenpud and composer V. Shebalin. A. Neumark describes the original features in the libretto and their integration in the opera score of the comedy. Originality in the music is combined with traditions of classical Russian opera.

The paper concludes with a discussion of the presentation at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, with Galina Vyshnevskaya as Katharina and Kibkalo as Petruchio.

The paper discusses Karel Irdo's interpretation of the comedy at the Tartu "Vanemuine" Theatre. Shakespeare had a double approach to Shylock, condemning him as a merciless money-lender and sympathising with him as a member of a persecuted race. The harmonious life of the humanists is contrasted to that of Shylock.

Ante Lauter, the outstanding Estonian actor, endows Shylock with concrete historical features, giving him as a type having much in common with the puritans of the time. All of the scenes in Venice are given a sternly realistic cast, in contrast to the romantic scenes at Belmont.

While the production in the realistic scenes of Venetian life, is praiseworthy, the conception of Portia played by Wisimaa is lacking in breadth and high imaginative flight.


Short reviews of new Shakespeare presentations on the Soviet stage form the contents of this section.

N. Kalitin analyses the ballet "Othello" with music by the Georgian composer Machavariani, as presented at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre by Vakhtang Chabukiani. N. Kalitin gives the presentation a favourable review.

In a paper entitled "Two Shakespeare Premieres, " A. Stein gives an unfavourable review of production of "Hamlet" at the Vakhtangov Theatre and "A Winter's Tale" at the Moscow Art Theatre. He ascribes these failures to lack of creative originality on the part of the directors, and to their inability to appreciate the individual features of Shakespeare's style.

Y. Kalashnikov gives a favourable review of "King Lear" at the Theatre of the Moscow Soviet. O. Dzyubinskaya praises the staging of the same play at the Shevchenko Dramatic Theatre in Kharkov.

In a review entitled "The Danish Prince on the Perm Stage", K. Krivitsky speaks highly of I. Kastrel's interpretation of Hamlet on the stage of Perm, the large district centre.

In a comparative review of "Hamlet" at two Riga theatres - the Academic Theatre of Drama and the Jan Rainis Art Theatre - Lyly Dzene, the Latvian critic, notes differences in the approach to the play as a whole, and to the interpretation of the hero.


In his paper, the Czech critic Zdenek Stribrny speaks of traditions in Shakespeare's presentations on Czech and Slovac stages, and gives a detailed analysis of "Hamlet" at the Prague Theatre. In his presentation, director Pleskot strives to clear the tragedy of modernistic and decadent distortions. Aided by the scenic artist Joseph Svoboda and Radovan Lukavsky in the leading role, he gives us Hamlet, the humanist, Hamlet, the analyst of the world's evil, Hamlet the lone hero who gives his life for humanist ideals.


The paper contains the author's personal observation of the work of Hungarian actors in Shakespearean roles. Discussed here are two presentations of Shakespeare's plays at the Budapest National Theatre: "Othello", and "Merry Wives of Windsor" (during the 1959 theatre season).

Othello, interpreted by the outstanding Hungarian actor Ferenc Bessenei, and I ago, acted by Tamas Major, the director of the play are presented as opposing polar forces which clash as a result of utterly different views on life. The paper contains a detailed description of the performance.

In the discussion of "Merry Wives of Windsor", attention is centred on F. Bessenei as Falstaff. Bessenei proves himself a master of comedy with a fine sense of the nature of Shakespearean comedy, and a thorough knowledge of the evolution of Falstaff.

The paper ends with an interview in which F. Bessenei discusses his wrork and his views on the modern theatre.


A brief review of Shakespearean productions at Stratford in 1959, containing the critical opinions of the British press.


The paper contains the author's personal observations on Shakespeare festivals at Stratford-on-Avon in 1959, and the Canadian Stratford Festival in 1960.

Attention is centred on the work of Glen Byam Shaw, who presented "King Lear" at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. A detailed description of the performance is given, including the director's conception, the staging, stage decorations by Motley and the acting, particularly that of Charles Laughton as Lear.

The author motes tendencies towards a popular presentation of Shakespeare. On the other hand, the author points out limitations in Glen Byam Shaw's conception, leading to a somewhat narrow solution of the main tragic conflict.

The paper also discusses three Shakespeare presentations in Canada in 1960: "King John," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Midsummer-Night's Dream."


This review of the productions of "The Taming of the Shrew," "Othello," "Midsummer-Night's Dream," "As You Like It," "Richard III," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Romeo and Juliet," while giving critical appraisals of each performance brings forth the fact that in some cases alterations in the text, transposition of scenes, over-elaborate scenic effects have been used as substitutes for serious artistic attempts to reveal Shakespeare to modern audiences. . The authors thinks that both actors and producers should learn to trust Shakespeare, the greatest dramatist who has ever lived.

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