Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > Shakespeare on the Continent > Early Seventeenth Century indications of appreciation of Shakespeare in Germany
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

XII. Shakespeare on the Continent.

§ 9. Early Seventeenth Century indications of appreciation of Shakespeare in Germany.


In fact, Germany stole a march on France, in so far as she possessed, as early as 1741, a real translation—the first translation of a Shakespearean drama into any language—of Julius Caesar. The author, Caspar Wilhelm von Borck, was Prussian ambassador in London between 1735 and 1738, and, doubtless, like Voltaire himself, experienced the piquant charm of English representations of that tragedy. Possibly, the translation may have been, in some measure, due to a desire on Borck’s part to show his countrymen that Voltaire’s Mort de César, in spite of its author’s protestations, gave a very perfect idea of the original. But it is not to be supposed that, at heart, Borck was at variance with the standard of dramatic excellence set up by Voltaire, and he conformed to that standard by translating Shakespeare into the German alexandrines which did service for translations of Voltaire’s tragedies. Thisversion, Der Tod des Julius Caesar, however, not merely gave men like Lessing, and, doubtless, Herder also, their first glimpse of the English poet, but it also led to the earliest German controversy on Shakespeare’s art.   13

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  Influence of Voltaire’s opinions in Italy Strength of Classicism  
 
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