Friday 18 November 2016 -
17:00 to 18:15

Shakespeare and Kossuth for Freedom

A lecture by Professor Ewan Fernie (Shakespeare Institute)

This talk will explore the too little known association between Shakespeare and Kossuth and how it helped to secure, enliven and politicise Shakespeare’s association with modern freedom more broadly. It will home-in especially on the occasion in 1853 when the Hungarian hero was presented with an extraordinary Shakespearean tribute by the dramatist and friend of Charles Dickens, Douglas Jerrold, acting on behalf of thousands of ordinary English men and women. That tribute survives in the Széchényi Library, Budapest, and it is an important theme and centrepiece of Professor Fernie’s forthcoming Cambridge University Press book: Shakespeare for Freedom: Why the Plays Matter. As Fernie hopes to demonstrate, it evinces a Shakespearean power to inspire large-minded, internationalist political action and idealism which we would do well to recover today.

17.45-18.15 Questions and Answers session

The talk is part of the British Council's Shakespeare Lives programme and co-organised by the Petőfi Literary Museum, the Institute of British-American Studies of Péter Pázmány Catholic University and the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee.

Admission is free

About the presenter

Ewan Fernie is Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he pioneered the Shakespeare and Creativity MA programme and works closely with the RSC. His books include Shame in Shakespeare, Spiritual Shakespeares, Redcrosse: Remaking Religious Poetry for Today's World and The Demonic: Literature and Experience. He has two books out in 2016. The first is Thomas Mann and Shakespeare: Something Rich and Strange, co-edited with Tobias Döring. The second is Macbeth, Macbeth, coauthored with Simon Palfrey. This is a sequel to Shakespeare's tragedy which turns into the play again, an intensely responsive reading of the play which at the same time constitutes a brand-new fiction; the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has called it, ‘a miracle, an instant classic’. Fernie is currently completing a book for Cambridge University Press entitled Shakespeare for Freedom: Why the Plays Matter.