Shakespeare and Marx (Oxford Shakespeare Topics)

Shakespeare and Marx (Oxford Shakespeare Topics)

Gabriel Egan

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 019924992X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Marxist cultural theory underlies much teaching and research in university departments of literature and has played a crucial role in the development of recent theoretical work. Feminism, New Historicism, cultural materialism, postcolonial theory, and queer theory all draw upon ideas about cultural production which can be traced to Marx, and significantly each also has a special relation with Renaissance literary studies. This book explores the past and continuing influence of Marx's ideas in work on Shakespeare. Marx's ideas about cultural production and its relation to economic production are clearly explained, together with the standard terminology and concepts such as base/superstructure, ideology, commodity fetishism, alienation, and reification. The influence of Marx's ideas on the theory and practice of Shakespeare criticism and performance is traced from the Victorian age to the present day. The continuing importance of these ideas is illustrated via new Marxist readings of King Lear, hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Timon of Athens, The Comedy of Errors, All's Well that Ends Well, and The Winter's Tale.

Mrs. Dalloway

Richard II (Folger Shakespeare Library)

William in Trouble (Just William, Book 8)

Not to Disturb

The Taming of the Shrew (First Avenue Classics)

The Last Man




















with the problem that an attempt to explain social reality by economics must stand somewhat apart from reality, and yet it needs to Wgure itself into the reality that it seeks to change. What follows here is a condensation of Terry Eagleton’s brilliant analysis of how these dilemmas were addressed by Georg Luka´cs, Antonio Gramsci, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Louis Althusser (Eagleton 1991, 33–159). If Marxism is part of social reality, how can it possibly model that same social reality

Lear oVered here focuses on the play’s exploration of the possibilities for future change. In one version of the play, the Fool makes a prophecy about ‘Albion’ that editors since the eighteenth century have altered in ways that suggest their views on utopianism. One of Marx’s most inXuential inheritors in the late twentieth century was the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, and the reading of Hamlet oVered here critiques his work on the limitations of representations (such as the

order in Henry VII’s reign. This book too, and for good reason, was accused of homogenizing Elizabethan views of historical change, as when GeoVrey Tillotson complained that Tillyard ‘has become interested in certain notions of theirs, and he tends to think of them as repositories of those notions’ (Tillotson 1945, 160). In particular, Tillyard failed to spot that, like Shakespeare’s plays, the chronicle sources oVer multiple explanations and points of view rather than a single providential

explain as inevitable events that he thought were explicable by historical circumstance. He argued that rather than validating the conservative idea that a tragic hero falls because of some Xaw in himself, Renaissance tragedy tends to show the contingent causes of the situations depicted. A Wxed human nature, then, leads to a Wxed human history, for we are all doomed to badness before we start: ‘When existing political Marx’s Influence since 1968 85 conditions are thus thought to be as

current conditions. This does not mean, however, that societies can only change by increments. Dawkins explored a number of population systems that achieve a stable equilibrium only to Xip to a new equilibrium under the right conditions. Dawkins’s prime example was a modelling of the so-called ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ scenario that in David Edgar’s play, with which I began Chapter 1, is likened also to the negotiations that take place between terrorists and governments in newly emerging states

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