Polish translations of Restoration comedy in early Communist period: the cross-section of ideology and academy

Source document: Theatralia. 2021, vol. 24, iss. 1, pp. 136-145
  • ISSN
    1803-845X (print)
    2336-4548 (online)
Type: Article
The article sets out to explore the ideological complexity of the Polish reception of English Restoration Drama in the early Communist period, i.e. in the 1950s and beyond. With the relatively early influx of Shakespeare's repertoire popularized by strolling companies as early as the 16th century, the subsequent decades saw a steady decline of this cultural trend, leaving English Restoration drama entirely outside Polish theatrical experience for three centuries. However, the postwar period saw a surprising development of academic interest in Restoration comedy and even more so in the social processes which these plays were said to expose. Steeped in heavy Marxist jargon, the studies of English Restoration comedies foregrounded the analysis of the newly emergent capitalist relations, the hypocrisy and moral decay of the ruling elites, and the relevance of the new approach to the historical reading of literature. While the enterprise failed on theatrical grounds, the emergent translations can be said to exemplify an interesting case of ideological patronage which brought to light works entirely dismissed by previous ages and allowed them to sustain the initial propagandistic pressure.
  • This essay incorporates the research results of the state-funded projects The e-Repository of the Polish 20th and 21st Century Shakespeare Translations: Resources, Strategies and Reception (NCN Opus 14, 2017/27/B/HS2/00853).
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