Politics and Genre in "Hamlet"

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 49 pages
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Politics and Genre in "Hamlet" is a historicist study constituting a significant departure from the New Historicist or 'cultural' approach to Shakespeare. It examines the question of genre in relation to identity, time and power in the play against the backdrop of the Renaissance in Europe. It looks at identity as a typically Renaissance phenomenon: a theatrical construct alternating between the Machiavellian and Castiglionesque. The 'new' political time is analyzed in the terms of an uneasy interval which, having arrived imperceptibly, somehow qualifies inescapably as history. Power, of which rhetoric is seen to perform a crucial function in Hamlet, is considered against a Foucauldian perspective of mobile power relations. State power on stage is, according to this study, as much a mysterious ubiquity as an atopia. Pivotal to Politics and Genre in "Hamlet" is what is viewed here as the cause of Hamlet's 'delay'. This is taken as generic and phenomenological, hinging on an intrinsic divergence between the atelic and recessive neoplatonic protagonist and the covert Aristotelian teleologies of the court at Elsinore. The discussion also takes in the existential, Picoesque concept of freedom to support the argument that Hamlet's is a genre in transition. One of the special achievements of Politics and Genre in "Hamlet" is that its focus on many of the classic issues of Shakespeare's play enables it to keep both the critical tradition of Hamlet and the dramatic processconstantly in view.

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About the author (2004)


Adrian A. Husain received his education in England and Switzerland. He did his BA (Hons.) at New College, Oxford. He received his Ph.D. in 1992 for a thesis on Shakespeare, Machiavelli and Castiglione from the University of East Anglia, Norwich. He currently lives in Karachi and is working on a monograph on Shakespeare's Richard II.

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