Since its first translation into English in 1789, the Sanskrit drama Abhijñānaśakuntala (The Recognition of Shakuntala) by Kalidasa has retained a place of prominence in the discipline/body of works currently identified as "world literature." Figured as the illustrative example of premodern Indian literary prowess and the foundation of the country's cultural output, The Recognition of Shakuntala has remained a staple of world literary education and criticism since the early nineteenth century. As a dramatic text, however, the play has also enjoyed a rich and diverse performance history, one that is not nearly as well documented, well studied, or well critiqued as contributive to a corresponding concept of world theatre. This essay compares William Jones's landmark translation with two pioneering theatrical productions given of the play in London: that of the Parsi Victoria Dramatic Company in 1885, and of the Elizabethan Stage Society in 1899. Drawing from a range of theatrical ephemera as well as a close reading of Jones's translation alongside the Sanskrit manuscript on which it was based, this essay argues for a fundamental difference between translation and performance as methods of production through which the canons of world literature and world theatre, respectively, are curated, by emphasizing the significance of embodiment, or the absence thereof, in constructions of universal humanism during the long nineteenth century.