Wilson-Lee enjoyably melds memoir, history, and literary travelogue to reveal the surprising hold that Shakespeare continues...



Pursuing the Bard across the history, geography, and culture of East Africa.

Wilson-Lee (English/Sidney Sussex Coll.; co-editor: Translation and the Book Trade in Early Modern Europe, 2014), who spent his childhood in East Africa and teaches Shakespeare, takes readers on a trek through Zanzibar, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan to discover Shakespeare’s legacy on those areas. He begins with famous African explorers for whom Shakespeare was indispensable; Sir Richard Francis Burton carried a volume of Shakespeare while crossing both bog and savanna when he set out to find the source of the Nile. Henry Morton Stanley “recounted burning his copy of Shakespeare to mollify tribesmen who viewed his books as witchcraft. Wilson-Lee chronicles his visit to Zanzibar, the site of Edward Steere’s 1867 printing of the Hadithi za Kiingereza, a collection of four Shakespearean tales and one of the earliest printed publications in Swahili; and Mombasa, where, at the end of the 19th century, tens of thousands of Indians arrived to build the railways, bringing their love of Shakespeare with them. The author also discusses his visit to Makerere University in Kampala, where teaching and performance of Shakespeare flourished during the 1940s; Dar es Salaam, where the first president of Tanzania translated Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice into Swahili; and Ethiopia, where Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin won favor from Emperor Haile Selassie for his production of Othello. In Nairobi, on the grounds of the coffee farm described by Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, Wilson-Lee reminisces about his youth among the Gikuyu people there. At its core, Shakespeare in Swahililand is as much the author’s story as it is Shakespeare’s or Africa’s.

Wilson-Lee enjoyably melds memoir, history, and literary travelogue to reveal the surprising hold that Shakespeare continues to have on a culture remote from his own.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-26207-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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