Playwrights: Gentle Wilhelm

The most popular and beloved German playwright is Shakespeare—gentle Wilhelm, the bard of Stuttgart-am-Neckar and every other hamlet from Rosencrantz to Guildenstern.

Last season Shakespearean plays in German were performed 2,396 times on 112 stages in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. By contrast, J. W. von Goethe, the German Shakespeare (who is not terribly popular in England, the U.S., Australia, Canada or New Zealand), ran a poor second. In the three countries, 86 theaters staged his plays last season in 1,980 performances. The chief reason is A. W. von Schlegel, a German writer whose stunning translations of Shakespeare were completed in...

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