Literature and Theatre

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How Adam Smith became a free trade ideologue
Keith Tribe

Underpinning the economic argument of Wealth of Nations is Smith's 'system of natural liberty', a system whose principles, if observed, would bring to all wealth and prosperity. First, the determinate relationship between free trade and economic growth established by Ricardo, expressed in terms of an argument for free trade in grain and the impact that this would have on the maintenance of the rate of profit in all economic sectors, was obscured by Marx's fixation upon value. In an older and better world, where exchange took place between economic powers on an equal footing, the cosmopolitical principles expounded by Adam Smith would be quite acceptable. By the mid nineteenth century this 'system' had been transmuted into a doctrine of laissez faire which had not been part of Smith's original intention, a doctrine which allied simplified principles of free trade to conceptions of minimal government intervention into the economic process.

in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
Stanley Wells

This chapter gives us a rare glimpse into an actual early reader of Shakespeare. It discusses a recently discovered manuscript by William Scott, written between 1599 and 1601, the title of which is '[The Model] of Poesy or the Art of Poesy drawn into a short or summary discourse'. This scholarly treatise discusses the relative merits of poets such as Sidney, Spenser and Daniel. Scott offers detailed readings of Shakespeare's style in The Rape of Lucrece and Richard II, describing both works as 'well-penned'. He is an astute reader of Shakespeare, closely analysing the language of his poems and plays alongside the work of other literary artists of the period. The chapter offers us further evidence that a 'readerly attention' to Shakespeare's plays is 'not a modern anti-social aberration but an authentic Jacobethan experience'.

in Shakespeare’s book
Robert Ellrodt

An acute and original attention to the self is noticeable in the writings of several authors by the end of the sixteenth century and at the beginning of the seventeenth. Most intensely manifested by Michel de Montaigne in France, it was mirrored by William Shakespeare's and John Donne's engagements with the same concepts in England. The author calls attention to a phenomenon of self-consciousness manifested in particular moments of self-observation: that which is characterized by doubts concerning the nature and at times the very existence of a self, which cannot be defined, or even discerned. An ability to detach himself from himself at the very moment of experience, which the author calls instantaneous self-reflexivity, characterizes Montaigne's self-consciousness, and the author suggests that it inaugurates a notion of subjectivity more readily associated with the modern and modernity.

in Montaigne and Shakespeare
New interdisciplinary essays

Much of the writing about The Prince is often at a certain distance from the text, not engaging with it in a critical or textual way. One of the features of the chapters in this book is the extent to which they focus on the complex texture of Machiavelli's writing and on the complex reading processes this in turn calls forth. Indeed, the book argues that it is not simply, as modern theorists have it, that the reader creates the meaning of the text but that certain texts in our culture - texts like The Prince - create and demand a more complicated response from readers as well as different kinds of reading. In other words, they demand a plural approach. The book brings together both a variety of critical viewpoints and a variety of disciplines but also a series of arguments which would allow the reader to engage in a debate that was at once broadly based and intensely focused. That debate has to include proper recognition of the particular circumstances of Machiavelli's writing, an awareness of the modern critical approaches now being explored in relation to The Prince, and a sense of the connection between Machiavelli and the twentieth century. What is clear, however, is that The Prince remains an important text in the attempt to understand cultural history and one that reminds us how difficult but rewarding that task is.

Shakespeare and the tragedy of Arden
Richard Wilson

In the autumn of 1599 Shakespeare's father, John, applied to Garter King of Arms for permission to combine his arms with those of his wife's family, the Ardens. Shakespeare's claim to the Arden arms can stand, in this sense, for the larger mystery of his relationship to his historical situation and, in particular, to Catholic resistance, a question that has been suspended since 1601, like his maternal inheritance, under official erasure. All the elements of Shakespeare's essential dramatic scenario were presented to John Carey in the stark outlines of the Arden tragedy. But so too was the existential choice which, in his biography of Donne, John Carey has described as a 'communal agony', of whether to side with 'sanctified and holy traitors'. Richard Simpson's researches into Shakespeare's Catholic Warwicksire established, with a wealth of archival detail, the inescapable horizon for a historicist reading of the plays.

in Secret Shakespeare
Abstract only
Bakhtin, poetry, truth, God
Graham Pechey

The novel' in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin is at once an empirical phenomenon and a transcendental category. It is not only a fact of literary history: it is also the rubric under which Bakhtin wishes us to think about the forms of sociality and subjectivity that belong to everyday life and modernity. This chapter situates the change in Bakhtin's understanding of the poetic that takes place between the Dostoevsky book and 'Discourse in the novel' within a more general shift in his theory of discourse from fonns to forces, from 'types' to 'lines' within histories. The concept of the poetic is extended in two ways. First, looking at poetry's ideological effects, Bakhtin insists on its complicity in the project of linguistic and sociopolitical unification. Secondly, he both specifies the status of the poetic word and critically refashions from the metalinguistic standpoint some of the established categories of poetic analysis.

in Bakhtin and Cultural Theory
Anthony Mellors

J. H. Prynne's poetry represents the most serious engagement with the modernist poetics of impersonality, Hermetism and fragmentation in postwar British poetry. Obscurity is combined with excess: there is always more language, more reference, more signification in an expenditure which may or may not be concerned to recuperate some core of meaning from its riot of utterances. The terms of being-on-the-way, encounter and the uncanny all prepare for Paul Celan's meditation on poetry in his address 'The Meridian', and for Prynne' s elegy for Celan 'Es Lebe der Konig'. In spite of its vanity and mortality, it seems, the poem represents a 'kind of homecoming' ('Eine Art Heimkehr'). Celan and Prynne again touch circles in this emphasis on the (non)politics of the singular (for Prynne, the politics for one man, 'the / folds of our intimate surface').

in Late modernist poetics
Zygmunt Bauman
Keith Tester

The postmodernity debate may have been a "fleeting affair," but in its time it was indispensable. Like many other good intentions, it went astray. The freedom to choose identity, like all freedoms, has its positive and negative aspects. What is celebrated in most postmodernist literature is the positive aspect: freedom to choose at will the difference of one's liking and to "make it stick," however temporarily, come what may. Anthony Elliott attempted to grasp the dual nature of the present-day transformations and the duality of reactions they prompt by suggesting the co-presence of two sharply distinct "object-relational configurations." The first, "modern," "suggests a mode of fantasy in which security and enjoyment are derived by attempting to control, order and regulate the self, others, and sociopolitical world." The second, "postmodern," suggests a mode of fantasy in which reflective space is more central to identity and politics.

in Postmodernism. What Moment?
Fiona Erskine

The success of gendered science is assumed rather than explained: the suggestion that this success can be attributed simply to the contemporary prestige of science underestimates the degree to which scientific ideas were subjected to critical scrutiny from within and without the scientific community. More importantly, it diverts attention from the fundamental contradiction in the women's movement, that of demanding expanded opportunities for women, whilst denying any need for a reappraisal of the male role or of the patriarchal foundations of contemporary society. This chapter attempts to address some of these issues by looking first at Darwin's views on gender as elaborated in the Origin and in other private and public communications; second at the development of those ideas by Darwin's disciples and at the use made of them in the cause of anti-feminism and third at the response of some of the women involved in the 'woman question'.

in Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species
Kate Flint

Great Expectations is a text obsessed with the idea of origins: the origin of wealth, the identification of parenthood. In Great Expectations, Dickens takes up the idea of unbreakable patterns of cause and effect working to determine present existence. The tenuous nature of the division between animal and human - even vegetable - life in Great Expectations is notable on a broader scale than the half-comic, half-queasy gastronomic one. Wemmick's choice of language shows that he has no worries about speaking of a human being as though she is an animal to whom motiveless violence comes naturally. The relegation of the importance of biological origins is of crucial importance to Great Expectations. Extremely conservative in class terms, Great Expectations is a novel which refuses to admit the desirability of any kind of reorganisation of society.

in Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species