thereby anticipating the critical practice of demythologisation that was shortly to become a central tenet of British cultural materialism. Jones’s objective was twofold: to establish a pre-history in the early sixteenth century that might challenge the claimed unhelpfulness of literary historians; and to counter ‘the desire to impose manageable period-divisions [that] has put more stress on superficial discontinuity’ – an emergent radical critical manoeuvre – ‘than continuity at a deeper level’. 78 Following on from T
. 138. 79 Ibid. , p. 178. 80 Mullaney, The Reformation of Emotions , p. 41. 81 See Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Los Angeles and Oxford, 1992), pp. 46ff. ‘When a part of our worldview threatens disruption by manifestly failing to cohere with the rest, then we reorganise and retell its story, trying to get it into shape – back into the old shape if we are conservative
About Nothing , ed. Claire McEachern, Arden 3 series (London, 2006). 36 Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language , p. 57. 37 Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Los Angeles and Oxford, 1929), p. 47. 38 Ibid. , p. 49. 39 Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language , pp. 57–8. 40 For a fuller discussion of the
–5. 27 Keith Wrightson, Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 16 (citing W. J. Ashley). 28 Specifically, see Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (London: Fourth Estate, 1999). For comment, see Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading (Berkeley: California
depends on moral judgements – what is the good life? – rather than the analysis of social mechanisms which is the province of cultural materialism, and that my judgement rests on little more than personal conviction. I was, therefore, grateful to read Susan Johnston’s book, Women and Domestic Experience in Victorian Political Fiction (2001), which places Gaskell’s work in the context of contemporary [ie Victorian] ideas about the liberal polity and the role of the individual within it. This context restores value-judgements about the good life to the centre of attention
published in the 1990s and early 2000s by Anglophone scholars grounded in cultural materialism (including myself), questioned the critical nature of Lepage’s engagement with representational practices. Considering his work through the lens of postmodern theory, Jen Harvie argued that the characteristic textual openness of Lepage’s productions ‘highlights and leaves volatile and problematic its representational practices but … does not explicitly engage in political debate’ (‘Robert Lepage’, 228). Lepage’s postmodernity, for Harvie, ‘prioritise[s] pleasure at the expense
whom the Earl was, the Chorus hints, an ambiguous and ‘lower’ representative (29). Shakespeare may have come closer to treason than cultural materialism allows. 57 The possibility that Henry V was written as the reveille for a coup links the text, that is to say, not only to the pro-Stanley project of Richard III but to the optimism of Catholics who saw the Scottish ruler
Shakespearean dramaturgy highlights apprehending a wondrous other: intense epiphanic encounters are fulcrums of passional cycles. Each play forms a chiastic symmetry, beginning with a two-act cycle (act 2 reversing/completing act 1) and ending with a two-act cycle (act 5 reversing/completing act 4); between them an intense one-act cycle (with no known source). These encounters recall biblical epiphanies: nativity, baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, crucifixion. Meaningful epiphany evolves gradually: in early plays it is sensational farce or horror; in mature plays the epiphanies systematically illuminate the soul’s powers. Macbeth’s chiastic sequence neatly divides into three murders – progressively blinding anti-epiphanies: killing a king centers the opening two-act cycle, killing a best friend centers act 3, killing a mother and children centers the final two-act cycle. The three murders suggest a Freudian ‘repetition compulsion’, but the regicide is not just Oedipal, nor the only important slaying. The murders are psychically conjoined, diminishing the Macbeths by travestying each psychic cathexis – sublimation, projection, introjection – annihilating all bonding. King Lear’s complementary sequence of three shamings again forms a chiastic 2-1-2 cycle of acts, but Lear’s strippings paradoxically bring psychic recovery through his epiphanal encounters with Goneril, Poor Tom, and Cordelia at the center of each cycle.
The echoes of Rome appear to strike the author of Julius Caesar as both literal and figurative. In the circular world of Julius Caesar, as Theodor Adorno wrote of Richard Wagner's opera house at Bayreuth, 'every step forwards is a step back into the remote past'. Like Marat, William Shakespeare's revolutionaries intend to be authors of a 'lofty scene' that abstracts 'peace, freedom, and liberty' from the carnal matter of the dead sovereignty. In Julius Caesar Shakespeare's Roman triumph is said to reprise Elizabeth's Armada parade. The 'conscious classical parallel' with the empire structured Elizabeth's festivals because the regime projected its power as a Roman renovatio, and English poets 'thought of these shows as "triumphs"'. Of all the 'untimely matters' in Julius Caesar it is the installation of 'the public chair' or official 'pulpit' that introduces the greatest derangement of Shakespeare's playhouse yet attracts least comment.
, 20; Dollimore, 1985 : 4, 10; Newton, 1989 : 152-3; Bennett, 1990 :19, 21, 52-3, 69, 72-5, 108, 141. For cultural materialism, see Barrell, 1988 : vii-viii, 12, 36. 23 Lentricchia, 1989 : 234; Greenblatt, 1992 : 3. 24