“Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet” has an article up about the Folger getting Esperanto editions of the works that caught my eye. Why? Because I know Esperanto (well, I did, long ago) and it so happens that I own a copy of Hamlet, translated into Esperanto by L.L Zamenhoff himself. Unfamiliar with Esperanto? It was (is?) a very interesting experiment in breaking down cultural barriers by attempting to create a universal second language. Simple enough idea – keep your own language and culture, but also have this second language so that no matter where you go in the world, you can communicate with the people there. When I was studying the language I used to read fairy tales from China, for example. I had a penpal in the Netherlands, with whom I played chess by email. Once, in a playwrighting course, I had written a scene that involved a troubled genius, one of these “Good Will Hunting” kids, who had been committed involuntarily to a mental ward. He was refusing to cooperate with doctors by speaking in his own language. Which, of course, was actually a recitation of Hamlet in Esperanto (the character unveils this in the play, to his favorite doctor). After the class one of the readers caught up to me and said, “What was that, that the kid was saying?” “Hamlet in Esperanto, just like he said.” I said. “Really.” 🙂 Esti aux ne esti!