Sunday, February 20, 2005

SHAKESPEARE GOES TO PARIS: How the Bard Conquered France
by John Pemble

The French were so appalled by the vulgarity of Shakespeare’s plays that it took them 300 years to come near to an accurate translation. The item of Desdemona’s on which the plot of Othello hinges could not be mentioned on stage because mouchoir was too coarse a word to be uttered — or heard — in the Comédie Française. It was not until 1829 that Alfred de Vigny first risked the M-word, but that still left the question of the strawberries with which it was decorated, and fraise was considered an even lower word. The handkerchief was thus referred to as being decorated with “flowers” until well into the 20th century

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