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A balanced approach to the Bard

The scholarship in West Bengal, especially in Calcutta, is as advanced as anywhere else in the world today, said Manfred Draudt, Professor of English at Vienna University in Austria, on Sunday. Draudt is currently in town to attend the Second World Shakespeare Conference (WSC) organised by the Shakespeare Society of Eastern India.

“Bengali scholars successfully dealt with colonial and postcolonial Shakespeare at the first WSC in 2000 and they will focus on Multicultural Shakespeare this year. They have adopted a balanced approach to reinvent the Bard, a quality not often noticed in the West,” said Draudt.

In his inaugural address on Sunday, Subir Dhar, secretary of the Shakespeare Society of Eastern India, said: “For 200 years, we have assimilated, studied and written on Shakespeare. It is time to get our voices heard.”

Higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty spoke of how western thought influenced our freedom struggle, spicing his account with reminiscences from his classroom.

On Monday at St Xavier’s, a dance group from north Bengal will bring out ‘parallelisms in the themes of love and friendship’ in the Bard’s sonnets and Vaishnav literature, while the Shakespeare Choir will present ragas that converge on Shakespeare songs. On Tuesday at Jorasanko Thakurbari, Rabindra Bharati University students will play out the Malvolio episode (Twelfth Night) in jatra mode.

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