Richard II and the performance of grief
in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
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In the process of resurrecting the dead, William Shakespeare's theatre obviously has a direct role to play in reconstituting and rehabilitating the transformative interaction of culture and memory. This chapter interrogates the ethical and political implications of this hermeneutic encounter in relation to tragedy and history. In Richard II, determining moments of death stage numerous and indeterminate figures of and from which to choose 'otherness', a form of testimony which incorporates an endlessly inventive 'oppositional historical consciousness' and which also constitutes its own form of counter-history. As such the 'poetry' as well as the performance of grief often conveys an autobiographical intensity which is at once uncommon and 'singular' and yet also somehow typical or exemplary. In Richard II the lyrical excess of native language is certainly linked insistently to a more haunting sense of inheritance and testimony.


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