Past Events/Readings at Shakespeare & Company

Shakespeare & Company has taken up the tradition again to have authors living or passing through Vienna, introduce their writings, books and thoughts.




We have started this season in September 2007 with “Contact with Alien Civilizations“
and discussed our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials with Michael A.G. Michaud. In thinking about contact with Alien Civilizations, we have to consider a lot of questions. The biggest is whether the outcome of contact will be beneficial or harmful. Will contact uplift us, bringing a golden age of wisdom and prosperity? Or will it demoralize, even destroy us? It is time for sustained thought about what we would do if our searches – or theirs – succeed.

In October 2007 Stephen Beller took us from outer-space and brought us back to the reality of Austria. We discussed and learned from his book “A Concise History of Austria”. He also wrote: “Anti-Semitism - A Very Short Introduction”, both Publications from Oxford University Press




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In January 2008 we went Down Under with Australian author Campbell Jeffery who read from his book: "The Bicycle Teacher".:Michael Smith, an Australian who moved to East Germany in 1981, succeeds in ways that he could have never have hoped for in Australia. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall not only the culture and identity of millions of People collapsed but also his happiness came to crashing halt. For him, the unification of Germany was an end and not a beginning. Riddled with guilt, he uproots his family back to Australia, to a better life, though not nearly as satisfying as it had been in East Germany.

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We continued our travelling and looking at the world in February 2008 with: In Search of Intercultural Understanding. Patrick Schmidt presented his newly published and very timely practical guidebook for living and working across cultures. The author, an American by birth and education, spoke about the surprises that can occur during foreign sojourn if we don’ possess intercultural sensitivity. In a hands-on and animated approach, Patrick Schmidt also covered the topic of intercultural competence, how it is developed and the tools needed to reach it. It was a fast-paced, panoramic view on how culture shapes — and continues to shape — our lifestyles.





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Nicholas T. Parsons, a freelance Author whose publications include a number guidebooks, like The Blue Guides to Vienna and to Austria and the Xenophobe’s Guide to Austria, presented Worth the Detour – A History of The Guidebook. From advice to the medieval pilgrim on shopping in Jerusalem’s markets to the slick, consumer-oriented product of today, the guidebook has a long history of enticing, warning and (potentially) educating it’s readers. But are we really seeing these places at all, or only the versions of them promoted by guidebooks? Worth the Detour is a history of the guidebook from ist roots in antiquity. Spicing his narrative with numerous anecdotes. intriguing detail and curious information, Nicholas T. Parsons has written a „Guide to the Guidebooks‘” that begins with such exotic texts as a fourth-century guide to The Seven Wonders of the (Ancient) World, erroneously attributed to Philo of Byzantium, and continues to the present day. Worth the Detour examines the interaction beween the creators and consumers of guidebooks down the ages and the ways in which guidebooks reflected the aesthetic tastes, religious preoccupations and political contexts of the times in which they were written.




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Gudbergur Bergsson, from Iceland, has been visiting and lecturing at the Institute of Scandinavian Studies, University of Vienna and gave Shakespeare & Company the honour of some glimpses of the Icelandic Culture and Way of Thinking when he read from his book Flatey-Frey. The reading was held in Icelandic and German.
Flatey-Frey has evolved during an extended stay of Gudbergur Bergsson on an Island with the very name in 1972. This text is seen as an important contribution to Icelandic Literature and Philosophy. His reflections deal with the relationship between art and life. How visions and words come about. How they take shape, materialize. Form literature, art, music, identities and genders.
Guy Hartopp, Author of Vienna, A Complete Musical Guide payed a short visit to Shakespeare & Company in February. His comprehensive and well researched guide to the music and musicians of Vienna brings the musical history of the city to life.