Karel Šima

The Performativity of Author and Work in Shakespearean Festivities of 1864

pp. 134–144 (Czech), summary p. 145 (English)

This study aims to show Shakespearean festivities as a situation where the Author and the Work are celebrated in a performative form. Shakespeare played an important role in the way Czech patriots defined themselves in relation to world art; in particular, they could identify themselves with a non-German representative of a brilliant author who combined in himself not only rationality and emotionality but also ideals and practice. He was thus the subject of a double cultural transfer, as he entered the Czech environment through German sources, but subsequently served to Czech patriots to define themselves against German classic authors and their celebration. The 1864 festivities themselves were an example of a semi-public event successfully organised "from below" by the Uměleck? Beseda (Czech artists forum) with the participation of a number of ethnically defined Czech associations of the time. Their course was dominated by a romantic view of Shakespeare, which was intended to encourage the national identification of participants. One of the performative forms was, for example, a festive parade of Shakespearean characters on the stage of the New Prague Theatre, which was also attended by many ordinary Prague citizens. This event thus enabled the participants to identify not only with the universal value of the artistic genius, the Author, but also with the emerging, ethnically defined, community of Czechs. On this occasion, the artists were able to offer a combined expertise in theatre, visual arts and music that ensured a successful
performative impact of the event.

Keywords: William Shakespeare - festivities - Artists' Club - performativity


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Institute of Art History CAS
Institute for Czech Literature CAS
Institute for Art History,
Charles University Prague