Taking into consideration the variety of Shakespearean elements both in world and Polish literature, it is hard to resist the impression that it is the phenomenon without which European culture would be impossible to imagine. At the same time, the writer — whose works not only constitute an important part of Western culture and determine its canon, but also have an influence on current, globalised culture — is perceived as a “dangerous trap”. The above-mentioned danger seems to derive, paradoxically, from the ubiquity of Shakespeare’s works, which are used as a point of reference for modern stories and sometimes treated instrumentally as the “culture brand”. However, it is important to determine if the reception of Shakespeare — present in the socio-cultural aesthetics as well as in the area of paratheatrical avant-garde — among Polish audience is followed by the pop-cultural assimilation of his works.
The success on the market of crime fiction whose authors relate to Shakespeare’s works implies the reductio ad absurdum question: how much of Shakespeare remains in these Shakespearean inspirations? Are they really inspirations or is Shakespeare only the brand-author who, due to his name, elevates a given text on the cultural level? If that was the case, we would be experiencing the branding after the pattern of culturally imposed stereotypes. They are in turn assimilated by the popular culture and have a significant impact on the everyday behaviours of the readers — including their attitude towards the past. Thus, tracking the Shakespearean traces within this cultural circuit usually remains a “wishful thinking”, while countless Polish stories (or the ones that the readers know from translations into the Polish language) about “crime and punishment” are the exceptions that prove the rule.