This article focuses on the frequently acknowledged and yet insufficiently investigated shaping influence (or, 'patronage' as Zbigniew Herbert called it) of Shakespeare's plays on Polish literature and theatre in the 19th and 20th century. An examination of a few notable dramatic works shows that Shakespeare's contribution to the formation of their aesthetic form is by no means uniform. In 'Balladyna' Juliusz Slowacki draws on six or seven Shakespearean comedies and tragedies, as well as other literary sources, to build its non-mimetic, textual character-roles. While Witold Gombrowicz's 'Wedding' reformulates and sharpens the drama of consciousness (o, 'Bewusstseinsdrama', as defined by Harold Bloom) of Hamlet, Slawomir Mrozek mines Shakespeare's classic drama for cues and gestures to be redistributed among the characters of his 'Tango'. On the whole, however, the latter seems to be less rewarding for a student in search of Shakespeare's inspiring 'patronage' than the dramas of Slowacki and Gombrowicz.
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