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Actualising History

Responsibilities with Regard to the Future in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Aamir Aziz and Frans Willem Korsten

Abstract

Whereas prior studies have focused on Arthur Miller's play The Crucible in relation to the Puritan past of the United States of America, this article looks at the play's present in relation to a future. If, as is the case, the play is an intervention in its contemporary circumstances, this is obviously with the aim of moving towards a better future. The question then becomes: how does the play deal with the past in the way that the Salem trials (1692) relate, by means of a theatrical intervention, to a future? In the twentieth century the relation of theatre, and of theatricality in general, with the future was paradigmatically explored in the work of Bertolt Brecht. In his view, the role of theatre was to produce a distance, not an unreflexive and emotional involvement in a plot. This distance or alienation was necessary to make people see behind the scenes of the socio-political and economic system, as a result of which they would start to think and become able to act in order to change the course of history. This appears to be an essential strategy as well if we think about the powers of spectacle, as they have been dealt with in previous studies in performance research, and a possible theatrical response to them.

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Yasser K. R. Aman

Abstract

The monstrous image created by William Blake in ‘The Tyger’ left the world wrapped in an apocalyptic vision that creates an epiphany of unknown Romantic potentials symbolised in ‘The Tyger’. The apocalyptic vision, deeply rooted in Christian religion, develops into an ominous harbinger of the destruction of the modern world portrayed in W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’. The image of the beast marks the difference between two ages, one with strong potentials and the other with fear and resident evil unexplained. I argue that the apocalyptic theory in Christianity has an impact on the development of the image of the beast in both poems, an impact that highlights man's retreat from Nature into the modern world which may fall apart because of beastly practices.

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Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey

This special issue of Critical Survey has a twofold purpose: to mark the twentieth anniversary of the events of 11 September 2001, when Islamic terrorists piloted two planes into New York's World Trade Centre, killing some three thousand innocent people; and to register some of the cultural changes that have taken place in the subsequent two decades, and can be directly or indirectly attributed to that world-changing day. The attacks of 9/11 soon came to represent an extensive typology of collisions: the ‘clash of civilisations’ between East and West; the unstable boundaries between war and peace in our contemporary world; and (to many, but not all academics) the destructive violence that potentially underlies Western values of liberty and peaceful co-existence. It has long been a commonplace that 9/11 profoundly and irreversibly changed our world. This issue sets out to represent and reflect some of those changes.

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Joydeep Chakraborty

Abstract

This article seeks to enlarge the scope of the current scholarly discussion on the trauma-related or, more precisely, ‘belated’ aspect of post-9/11 American literature through a focus on hallucinatory experiences in post-9/11 American poetry, and through the application of the information-processing models of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the interpretation of these experiences. To attain this purpose, the article focuses on four poems – ‘High Haunts’ by Tish Eastman, ‘The Dead Have Stopped Running’ by Matthew Mason, ‘Making Love after September 11, 2001’ by Aliki Barnstone and ‘Strangers’ by Lucille Lang Day – all of which were included in An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind: Poets on 9/11 and September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond, two of the major anthologies of 9/11 poems that came into being in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. This article, finally, attempts to discover a poetic strategy to conquer the trauma of 9/11 at the personal level.

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Shireen H. Alkurdi, Awfa Hussein Al-Doory, and Mahmoud F. Al-Shetawi

Abstract

This article sheds light on the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's interest in Egypt and the Arab world. It underscores the influence of his tour in Egypt during the opening of the Suez Canal on his works, drawing on the theoretical underpinnings established by Edward W. Said. The study foregrounds Ibsen's correspondence, plays, and other works that include references to his two-month stay in Egypt and to his encounter with the Arab culture. Ibsen's references validate the Western stereotyping and ideology that have influenced a wide array of Western writers in the ways they misrepresent and misinterpret the Arab culture, and concomitantly other references mirror a personal force of admiration. Additionally, the article discusses the idea that Ibsen's sojourn in Egypt did not alter his viewpoint of the Arab culture in general and the Egyptian one in particular which is markedly controlled by the Western stereotyped image of Arabs and their culture.

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In Memoriam

Bryan Loughrey 1952–2021

Graham Holderness

It is my sad duty to announce that my dear friend Bryan Loughrey, co-editor of the journal, recently passed away after a short illness. It was Bryan who relaunched Critical Survey in 1987, serving as Editor, General Editor and lately Editor Emeritus. The journal was originally founded by C.B. Cox and A.E. Dyson in 1962 as a sister journal to Critical Quarterly (1958–), which also changed hands in 1987, but went in a different, more theoretical direction, under the editorship of Colin McCabe. Together with Critical Survey, Bryan also assumed responsibility from Cox and Dyson for the ‘Critical Quarterly Conferences’, a long-running series of conferences for UK sixth form students who might be contemplating studying English Literature or related studies at university. This historical background shows Bryan operating in three capacities in which he excelled: as independent scholar, editor and academic manager.

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Mehrdad Bidgoli

Abstract

Ethically attuned readings of King Lear typically study, among other issues, Lear's ethical revolution. More specifically, Shakespeare critics who have engaged with Levinasian treatments of this play often do not present a clear-cut account of Lear's status with regard to the authentic encounter with the destitute yet commanding face of the Other, and the ineluctably intervening third party. Trying to unravel these complexities, I examine one of the possible reasons why ethical readers of King Lear equivocate when they study Lear and his ethical apotheosis. I will discuss Lear's subjectivity and trace its gradual transition to a more heightened ethical awareness, but refuse to envision him as a perfect ethical character. Lear does improve significantly with regard to his relationship with the Other, but while he appears to temporarily touch a Levinasian standpoint, his subjectivity undergoes an apotheosis, eventuating in a deontological (perhaps pre-ontological) status which cannot reconcile itself with the presence of ‘the third party’. This, as I will discuss, is his ethical-political flaw which blocks a final recourse towards a probable reconciliation of the Other and the Third. Lear's ethical awakening, I suggest, fails to reconcile with and restore justice.

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Samira al-Khawaldeh, Soumaya Bouacida, and Moufida Zaidi

Abstract

This article aims to relocate Shakespeare's Othello the Moor in the cultural roots of Moorish Spain, arguing that he is not a Moor in the inclusionary, monolithic sense of the term, but a diasporic Iberian finding refuge in fifteenth–sixteenth-century Venice. It seeks to contextualise Shakespeare's play by setting the Othello/Iago binary as an epitomisation of the Spanish inquisition. Giving Othello, the Moor of Venice an allegorical reading against its historical background facilitates better perception of the play's motivational dynamics: why a Moor? And why such extreme enmity? To substantiate the argument, textual and contextual factors, such as characters’ appellations and the Moorish refugee's ‘royal siege’, are viewed from a different perspective, factors designed to direct the mind towards specific realities, already visible to the playwright's audience.

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Michael W. Thomas

Even the hem of midsummer, By Michael W. Thomas

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Hussein A. Alhawamdeh

Abstract

This article analyses the filtering of Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611) in the Restoration drama repertoire, showing the Restoration revision of the Shakespearean stereotypical delineation of the ‘half-moor’ Caliban in the light of Restoration England's complex relations of admiration and trepidation with regard to the Muslim Moors and Turks. Dryden-Davenant's The Tempest or The Enchanted Island (1667) complicates the figures of Caliban and Sycorax as Muslim Moorish friends or foes and possible subjects of Charles II's English Tangier on the Barbary coast. Dryden-Davenant's The Enchanted Island makes historical parallels and allusions to Charles II's marriage to the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza and the English possession of Tangier as a part of the marriage dowry.