Jim Crace's novel Quarantine purports to be a text of 'post-Dawkins scientific atheism'. It re-sets the mystical gospel story of the Temptation in the Wilderness into a materialist universe where only the laws of nature preside, and thus converges on a well-established fictional form, the naturalistic biographical representation of Jesus in a fully realised historical setting. The Messianic claims of Jesus are assumed to evaporate under this scrutiny, and the truth-claims of religion itself to crumble beneath the application of scientific observation and the invocation of scientific laws. In the event however the novel discloses an imaginative and visionary realm in which miracles, for which there is no naturalistic explanation, happen. Holderness argues that like other agnostic writers who engage with Jesus, Crace is to some degree of God's party without knowing it.
Though it may seem perverse – Shakespeare being synonymous with creativity itself – to speak of ‘creating’ that which is already so manifestly and abundantly created, Shakespeare criticism and scholarship is tending increasingly towards the view that every act of scholarly reproduction, critical interpretation, theatrical performance, stage and screen adaptation, or fictional appropriation produces a new and hitherto unconceived Shakespeare. This volume presents discursive evidence to support this hypothesis in relation to the fields of transcultural reproduction, screen adaptation, theatrical improvisation and fictional re-writing.
Underpinned by a cultural materialist study of the presence of Shakespeare in a series of great national festivals – the great Exhibition of 1851, the Festival of Britain in 1951, and the London Olympics of 2012 – this story uses imaginative methods to pursue a critical inquiry, combining documentary evidence and critical argument with imaginative speculation. To study Shakespeare diachronically through a time-line of national commemorations, the kind of work featured in Critical Survey 22, 2 (2010), Shakespeare and the Cultures of Commemoration, is analogous to travelling in time. Here Wells’s Time Traveller, scientist, engineer, and devotee of progress, returns to the past in search of Shakespeare, and finds in the Great Exhibition a Shakespeare surprisingly assimilated to the priorities of mechanical engineering and industrial design. Shuttling forward to 1951, he discovers similar evidence, including a steam locomotive named William Shakespeare. Inadvertently coming across the London Olympics in 2012 (by carelessly setting his GPS navigation system to ‘Stratford’), the Time Traveller encounters lines from The Tempest spoken by an impersonation of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In this story historical, critical and scholarly questions are explored imaginatively in fictional form. For a critical account of the same material, see Graham Holderness, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, in Celebrating Shakespeare: Commemoration and Cultural Memory, edited by Clara Calvo and Coppelia Kahn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
The literary canon is commonly thought of as ancient, accepted and agreed, and consistent between high and popular cultures. This article demonstrates the falsity of these assumptions, and argues that the canon is always provisional, contingent, iterable and overdetermined by multiple consequences of cultural struggle. Using definitions of canonicity from Harold Bloom, Frank Kermode and Pierre Bourdieu, the article shows how the canon is produced, consumed and reproduced. Picking up on Harold Bloom's use of a poem by Wallace Stevens, the article explores the impact of Arabic adaptations of Shakespeare on canon formation and canonicity.
This article was delivered in the plenary session of the Shakespeare Association of America's annual meeting in St Louis, April 2014, alongside papers from Ania Loomba and Jonathan Dollimore, also for the first time published in this volume. The purpose of the panel was to commemorate and celebrate two important critical texts whose anniversaries fell at that time: Jonathan Dollimore's Radical Tragedy, published in 1984, and Political Shakespeare (1985), edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, which went into its second edition in 1994. This article discusses the impact and influence of Political Shakespeare, to which I was a contributor.
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla (New York: Random House, 2009).
Laurie Johnson, John Sutton, and Evelyn Tribble, eds, Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre (London: Routledge, 2014).
Jacques Ranciere, trans. Gabriel Rockhill, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Bloomsbury, 2004).
David Hillman, Shakespeare’s Entrails: Belief, Scepticism and the Interior of the Body (London: Palgrave, 2007).
The Demonic: Literature and Experience by Ewan Fernie
Critical Survey has throughout its existence published creative alongside critical writing. From time to time such work has included short stories and short plays; while the ‘Poetry’ section has remained a constant element in the Table of Contents. This issue focuses on something rather different: on what the guest editors Rob Conkie and Scott Maisano call ‘creative writing informed by literary criticism’.
This is the second issue of Critical Survey dedicated to Arab Shakespeare. When I invited Margaret Litvin to edit the first, which appeared in 2007, the field hardly existed. Ten years ago in 2006 the World Shakespeare Congress in Brisbane hosted a panel on Arab Shakespeare that began to shape a new field of inquiry.
Richard III is one of Shakespeare’s best-known characters, a
familiarity independent of the history plays, Henry VI and Richard
III, in which he appears.1 This celebrity has less to do with Richard’s
historical reputation, and more with the way in which great actors
of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries gave the role status and
popular visibility, particularly perhaps via Laurence Olivier’s 1955
fi lm version.2 Just as Hamlet is automatically identifi able by black
suit and prop skull, Richard is immediately recognisable by his
legendary deformity (mandatory hump, optional limp), and by the
famous opening line of his initial soliloquy: ‘Now is the winter of our