The Bottom Translation

Paper Text – $19.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-0738-0
Publication Date
June 1987
Page Count
165 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Bottom Translation

Marlowe and Shakespeare and the Carnival Tradition
Jan Kott

The Bottom Translation represents the first critical attempt at applying the ideas and methods of the great Russian critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, to the works of Shakespeare and other Elizabethans. Professor Kott uncovers the cultural and mythopoetic traditions underlying A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Dr. Faustus, and other plays. His method draws him to interpret these works in the light of the carnival and popular tradition as it was set forth by Bakhtin. The Bottom Translation breaks new ground in critical thinking and theatrical vision and is an invaluable source of new ideas and perspectives. Included in this volume is also an extraordinary essay on Kurosawa's "Ran" in which the Japanese filmmaker recreates King Lear.

About the Author

Jan Kott, (1914-2001) born in Warsaw, was a theater critic and theorist. 
"[O]riginal and exciting. [Kott's] use of Bakhtin as a mirror for the Renaissance stage results in reading that are both elegant and startling. Most welcome of all is Kott's sense of the living theater amidst the neoplatonism and allusion." --Stephen Orgel
"Jan Kott never ceases to amaze me. His imaginative mind moves in on a play from the most unexpected angles, but he always hits dead center. The essay on Faustus is particularly brilliant. The Bottom Translation is an important addition to this major critic's invaluable work." --Robert W. Corrigan

"Jan Kott is not just another theater critic or historian: he is, in the fullest sense of the term, a man of the theater. His work as a scholar has always been enriched by his experience as a director. His gift has always been to see history in plays, as well as plays in history. His own experience in Eastern Europe gives Kott's readings of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Webster a rare urgency and originality. This new book throws light not only on Renaissance drama, but on Kott himself; Kott is not only a strong reader, but a powerful writer."

—Michael Holquist