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Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures with the Ever-Living Poet

Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures with the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
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Investigating the literary culture of the early interaction between European countries and East Africa, Edward Wilson-Lee uncovers an extraordinary sequence of stories in which explorers, railway labourers, decadent émigrés, freedom fighters, and pioneering African leaders made Shakespeare their own in this alien land.

Whilst travelling in Luxor, Edward Wilson-Lee encountered a man who called out to him from the summer shade with lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth: 'Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….' Unable to resist the temptation, Wilson-Lee responded with the next line and so began a fascination with unexpected cultural encounters, especially those made memorable by the poignancy of discovering beauty out of place.

Shakespeare may have heard of Luxor (although he would have known it as Thebes) but it is unlikely that he imagined his lines ever being spoken there, close by the feluccas sailing on the Nile and the acres of pharaonic ruins beyond.

This radical, breath-taking book combines travel, history, biography and satire in an ode to Shakespeare. Wilson-Lee teaches Shakespeare at Cambridge but grew up in East Africa and Shakespeare in Swahililand explores Shakespeare’s global legacy like no other book before it. In these pages explorers stagger through Africa's interior accompanied by Shakespeare; eccentrics live out their dreams on the African Savannah with Shakespeare by their side; decadent emigres, railway labourers, Indian settler communities, African intellectuals and rebels all turned to Shakespeare and adapted his plays to fit their needs. The book examines how Shakespeare influenced the first African leaders of independent nations, Cold War intrigues and even Che Guevara.

With its extraordinary sequence of stories and momentous travels from Zanzibar, through Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, this literary adventure throws high culture and the wild together in celebration of Shakespeare's legacy as a poet of the world.

HarperCollins Publishers; March 2016
320 pages; ISBN 9780008146207
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Title: Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures with the Ever-Living Poet
Author: Edward Wilson-Lee
 
ISBNs
9780008146191
9780008146207

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