I knew about the Nazis and Merchant of Venice. But I never knew about Stalin and Hamlet.
Apparently Stalin “disapproved” of Hamlet, he didn’t ban it. Which I’m gathering, though I’m not a student of this particular time in history, that Stalin was the kind of dude who, if you did something he disapproved of, you lived to regret it … but not very long.
The rest of the linked article, be warned, is about cancel culture – a very hot, very divisive topic these days. The Stalin story makes the point – you don’t have to enact a law to cancel something. Sometimes, just the right word from the right person can do the trick.
(*) How’s TS Eliot get dragged into this? The poet wrote an essay entitled, “Hamlet and his Problems“, where we get the infamous quote referring to the English language’s greatest play as “certainly an artistic failure.” Unlike Stalin, however, Eliot apparently did not have cancel powers – few people would say that they stopped producing Hamlet because TS Eliot said so.