"Go, our little book."
(Prof. Toshikazu Oyama)

A Short History of Multicultural Shakespeare:
Translation, Appropriation and Performance

Toshikazu Oyama, the President of Seijo University in Japan, chaired the Investigative Committee on Shakespeare Translation at the First World Shakespeare Congress held in Vancouver, August 1971. On the plane to Vancouver, he gave me a pamphlet prepared for the Committee and asked me to listen to the discussion carefully. Something important was going to happen, that was obvious. It was indeed an important discussion. What emerged - what I was asked to listen for - was the birth of a publication that would someday become important on the world stage. (...)

In the editorial Preface of volume 1 [of Shakespeare Translation], Oyama stated:

"Could Shakespeare have imagined that his plays would be read and performed in many languages other than his own, after hundreds of years? It is easily conceivable that William Shakespeare would today be astonished at the universal acceptance of his creative genius."

It was certainly the mission of the original editorial board to offer Shakespeare Translation to English speaking as well as non-English speaking readers. Through the cooperation of the readers who are interested in Shakespeare Translation, we were optimistic that we could offer Shakespeare on a global scale.

The publication board has since undergone many changes. A brief history includes Oyama becoming the chairman in 1975, with [Jagannath] Chakravorthy, [Hans W.] Gabler, Toshiko Oyama and Kristian Smidt subsequently joining. In 1977, Gabler resigned and Werner Habicht and Terence J. B. Spencer joined as members. With the premature deaths of Oyama and Spencer in 1978, the board was accepted Muriel C. Bradbrook and Angela Mirenda as new members.

Before Oyama passed away in 1983, he invited me to visit him in hospital where he encouraged me to take over as board chairperson (...). I promised to continue his valuable work, and I began my own editorial work with Volume 10. About that time, Mirenda resigned her membership on the board and Samuel Schoenbaum took over her place.

During the Fourth World Shakespeare Congress held in West Berlin, April 1986, I chaired the Special Session on Shakespeare Translation. A change of the publication's title was agreed upon then by those attending that session. It emerged as Shakespeare Worldwide: Translation and Adaptation . The previous title, Shakespeare Translation, allowed for coverage of various fields of Shakespeare in translation: theory and principle, practice and methodology. However, Shakespeare Worldwide: Translation and Adaptation was to have a more extensive and perhaps broader coverage of issues. In addition to the regular features on translation problematics, this revised journal would add discussions of stage and film adaptations, the ontology of the playtexts, and other pertinent subjects.

In 1986, Shakespeare Worldwide: Translation and Adaptation, Volume 11, focused on Hamlet. In 1989, Volume 12 offered a special edition focusing exclusively on King Lear. Board changes in that year included the resignation of Chakravorty. In 1991, Rupin W. Desai joined the board, and the publication brought out an issue devoted to Othello. In 1993, Bradbrook passed away. In 1995, Volume 14 was devoted to Macbeth, and Volume 15 was a special issue on the comedies and histories.

Over the period of almost twenty years of my chairing the editorial board, I collected articles from many countries (e.g. Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain Switzerland, USA). Many outstanding Shakespeare scholars have contributed their challenging and learned articles of Shakespeare translation and adaptation in their respective countries. They include Toshikazu Oyama, Toshiko Omaya, Pierre Spriet, Werner Habicht, M. C. Bradbrook, Rudolf Stamm, Kristian Smidt, Jae-Nam Kim, Joo-Hyon Kim, Marvin Rosenberg, Manuel C. Conejero, Avraham Oz, Jagannath Chakravorty, Panos Karagiorgos, Jerzy S. Sito, Virginia V. Vaughan, A. T. Hoenselaars, Kenneth S. Rothwell, Lois Potter, John L. Styan, Michael Mullin, Ronnie Mulryne, Margaret Shewring, Shen Lin, Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, and others.

We know that Shakespeare wrote for the English Renaissance stage, but it is well known that his language and themes are cross-cultural and universal. Shakespeare scholars in so many countries have provided enormously valuable insights into Shakespeare's work, illuminating the transcendental and the local values therein. Also, Shakespeare Translation and later Shakespeare Worldwide were the only publishing forums of this nature in existence. Without question, these journals evoked great interest and had wide distribution throughout the world.

More recently, in 2001 at the Seventh World Shakespeare International Congress in Valencia, I invited Krystyna Kujawińska Courtney, my colleague of many years, to help me chair this journal. We decided to move the place of publication to the University of Lodz, Poland, where Krystyna works. I am frankly delighted that it is published now in Europe, especially in Poland, the country that after many years of various political upheavals has again become democratic and is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged member of an Integrated Europe. Needless to say, Shakespeare was, in Poland, one of the active tools that fought the hegemony of foreign dominance, especially the Russian Communist regimes.

The other important decision that we made was yet another alteration of the publication's title. It is now known as Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance. We believe that these changes will greatly contribute to the growing interest in our work, the success of which depends entirely upon our contributors and the work of the editorial board.

Yoshiko Kawachi
(From Introduction to Vol. 1 of Multicultural Shakespeare)


Professor Toshikazu Oyama, ex-President of Seijo University and Chairman of Shakespeare Translation, died at the age of sixty-five on September 10, 1983. Dr. Oyama was a Japanese scholar of high standing and attainment. He was born in Tokyo on October 8, 1917. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Tokyo Bunrika University in 1942, the Master of Arts degree from the Ohio State University in 1951, and the Doctoral degree from Tokyo University of Education in 1969. He also studied at Harvard University between 1965 and 1966. Since 1958, he has been Professor of English Literature at Seijo University, and from 1974 to 1982 he was President of Seijo University.

During his career, Dr. Oyama displayed considerable activity both at home and abroad. He was an executive committee member of the Shakespeare Society of Japan, a director of the English Literary Society of Japan, and a committee member of the University Chartering Council in the Ministry of Education. Moreover, he was an international advisory committee member of the First Shakespeare Congress, and a consultative committee member of the International Association of University Professors of English. As an accomplished scholar, Dr. Oyama published many books and articles (...) and translated Richard III, Hamlet, Henry V and six other Shakespearean plays into Japanese.

Dr. Oyama was a hardworking man. He took a conspicuous part in the development of English studies in Japan. Needless to say, his wife, Professor Toshiko Oyama of blessed memory, always encouraged him and helped him. They were indeed not only the leading Shakespearean scholars in Japan but also broad-minded educators.

Dr. Oyama was rather quiet, but he had a sense of humour, especially over a glass of wine. He had many friends both in his own and other land. Those who were on close terms with him will never forget his sincerity, human kindness, and tiny, gentle eyes.
May his soul rest in peace!

Yoshiko Kawachi
(From Preface to Vol.10 of Shakespeare Worldwide)

University of Łódź