Radical Tragedy

Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Radical Tragedy

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: Published: December 2003

Author: Jonathan Dollimore

Contributor: Terry Eagleton

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies

When it was first published, Radical Tragedy was hailed as a groundbreaking reassessment of the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. An engaged reading of the past with compelling contemporary significance, Radical Tragedy remains a landmark study of Renaissance drama. The third edition of this critically acclaimed work includes a new foreword by Terry Eagleton and an extensive new introduction by the author.


“A courageous, stimulating book which everybody interested in its subject must read.” — Christopher Hill , Literature and History

“A welcome new edition of a pathbreaking book complete with a brilliantly incisive and thought-provoking introduction that will enthuse a new generation of students. With an iconoclastic energy all too rare in academic circles, Dollimore fearlessly revalues his own project and poses questions central to the larger critical, cultural, and philosophical debates within English Studies, to which Radical Tragedy continues to make a major scholarly contribution.” — John Drakakis, University of Stirling

“I put this book right at the top. I read it with excitement and sustained interest throughout.” — David Bevington, University of Chicago

“Prefaced by a powerful, provocative essay that brings its argument bang up to date, this splendid new edition of Radical Tragedy puts its status as a classic of cultural-materialist criticism beyond question.” — Kiernan Ryan, Royal Holloway, University of London

“Some critical studies are full of insight, but not many of them are necessary. Radical Tragedy ranks among the necessary critical interventions of our time.” — Terry Eagleton, from the foreword


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jonathan Dollimore is Professor of English at the University of York. His books include Death, Desire, and Loss in Western Culture; Sex, Literature, and Censorship; Political Shakespeare: Essays in Cultural Materialism (with Alan Sinfield); and Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Foreword / Terry Eagleton x

Introduction to the Third Edition xiv

i September 1914 xiv

ii September 2001 xvi

iii September 1939

iv Art and Humanism xxii

v Humanism and Materialism xxv

vi Returns xxvi

vii Knowledge and Desire xxx

Notes xxxv

Bibliography xxxvii

Introduction to the Second Edition xli

Part I: Radical Drama: Its Contexts and Emergence

1. Contexts 3

i Literary Criticism: Order versus History 5

ii Ideology, Religion and Renaissance Scepticism 9

iii Ideology and the Decentering of Man 17

iv Secularism versus Nihilism 19

v Censorship 22

vi Inversion and Misrule 25

2. Emergence: Marston's Antonio Plays (c. 1599-1601) and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (c. 1601-1602) 29

i Discontinuous Identity (1) 30

ii Providence and Natural Law (1) 36

iii Discontinuous Identity (2) 40

iv Providence and Natural Law (2) 42

v Ideology and the Absolute 44

vi Social Contradiction and Discontinuous Identity 47

vii Renaissance Man versus Decentered Malcontent 49

Part II: Structure, Mimesis, Providence

3. Structure: From Resolution to Dislocation 53

i Bradley 53

ii Archer and Eliot 56

iii Coherence and Discontinuity 59

iv Brecht: A Difference Reality 63

4. Reniassance Literary Theory: Two Concepts of Mimesis 70

i Poetry versus History 71

ii The Fictive and the Real 73

5. The Disintegration of Providentialist Belief 83

i Atheism and Religious Scepticism 83

ii Providentialism and History 87

iii Organic Providence 90

iv From Mutability to Cosmic Decay 92

v Goodman and Elemental Chaos 99

vi Providence and Protestantism 103

vii Providence, Decay and the Drama 107

6. Dr. Faustus (c. 1589-92): Subversion Through Transgression 109

i Limit and Transgression 110

ii Power and the Unitary Soul 116

7. Mustapha (c. 1594-6): Ruined Aesthetic, Ruined Theology 120

i Tragedy, Theology and Cosmic Decay 120

ii Mustapha: Tragedy as Dislocation 123

8. Sejanus (1603): History and Realpolitik 134

i History, Fate, Providence 134

9. The Revenger's Tragedy (c. 1606): Providence, Parody and Black Camp 139

i Providence and Parody 139

ii Desire and Death 143

Part III: Man Decentered

10. Subjectivity and Social Process 153

i Tragedy, Humanism and the Transcendent Subject 156

ii The Jacobean Displacement of the Subject 158

iii The Essentialist Tradition: Christianity, Stoicism and Renaissance Humanism 161

iv Internal Tensions 163

v Anti-Essentialism in Political Theory and Renaissance Skepticism 169

vi Renaissance Individualism? 174

11. Bussy D'Ambois (c. 1604): A Hero at Court 182

i Shadows and Substance 182

ii Court Power and Native Noblesse 185

12. King Lear (c. 1605-6) and Essentialist Humanism 189

i Redemption and Endurance: Two Sides of Essentialist Humanism 191

ii King Lear: A Materialist Reading 195

iii The Refusal of Closure 202

13. Antony and Cleopatra (c. 1607): Virtus under Erasure 204

i Virtus and History 206

ii Virtus and Realpolitik (1) 207

iii Honour and Policy 213

iv Sexuality and Power 215

14. Coriolanus (c. 1608): The Chariot Whell and its Dust 218

i Virtus and Realpolitik (2) 218

ii Essentialism and Class War 222

15. The White Devil (1612): Transgression Without Virtue 231

i Religion and State Power 231

ii The Virtuous and the Vicious 232

iii Sexual and Social Exploitation 235

iv The Assertive Woman 239

v The Dispossessed Intellectual 242

vi Living Contradictions 244

Part IV: Subjectivity: Idealism versus Materialism

16. Beyond Essentialist Humanism 249

i Origins of the Transcendent Subject 250

ii Essence and Universal: Enlightenment Transitions 253

iii Discrimination and Subjectivity 256

iv Formative Literary Influences: Pope to Eliot 258

v Existentialism 262

vi Lawrence, Leavis and Individualism 264

vii The Decentered Subject 269

Notes 272

Bibliography of Works Cited 290

Index of Names and Texts 307

Index of Subjects 311
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3347-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3335-7
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