If Descartes’ soul was always thinking, Sartre's soul (if we may put it this way) was always not just thinking but putting those thoughts on paper. It is an indication of the enormous fertility of his thinking and writing across many decades that we continue to find food for our own thinking and writing in the whole span of his philosophical works, from his books on the imagination to his reflections on Marxism, as this issue of Sartre Studies International exemplifies. And in a year in which we seem to have rediscovered the value of dialogue with others, many of the contributions to this issue exemplify that value as well: we see here Sartre in dialogue with Husserl, with Beauvoir, with Badiou, and with Lacan.
John Gillespie and Katherine Morris
Shakespeare and the Modern Novel
When I first studied the novel, the form was believed to have originated in the eighteenth century with the fiction of Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson, and was synonymous with literary realism. The novel emerged from the Age of Reason, was closely associated with journalism, satire and conduct literature, and marked a profound break with the supernatural, fantastic and romance narratives of the past. Its perfect embodiment was to be found in the work of Jane Austen, even today an immensely popular writer, and widely regarded as a defining practitioner of the novel form. This kind of novel was/is in every respect different from Shakespeare: new, ‘novel’, not old; prose, not poetry; narrative, not dramatic; realist, not magical; fictional, not metafictional; and could deal with Shakespeare only as an objective feature of the society and culture being represented.
While much attention has been paid to Angela Carter's intertextual appropriation of Shakespeare and her interrogation of the patriarchal ideology at work in his representations of familial strife, critics tend to focus on Carter's final novel, Wise Children. Shakespeare's influence on Carter's earlier novel, Nights at the Circus, has gone largely unremarked. Like Wise Children, Nights at the Circus builds a bricolage of Shakespearean allusions, but it more subtly reconsiders the ontological issues of legitimacy by returning to Shakespeare's interest in ambiguity, in deniability, in time, and in space. I argue that Nights at the Circus appropriates and shatters Shakespeare's disruptive methods concerning the materiality of time in The Winter's Tale and Hamlet. In so doing, Carter reverses time and dismembers space to criticise the masculine-made-legitimate at the expense of the feminine, which Shakespeare's temporal and spatial manipulations ultimately uphold.
Hamlet in a Nutshell
Elena Bandín and Elisa González
The aim of this article is to analyse Ian McEwan's Nutshell, published in September 2016, as a modern rewriting of Hamlet in relation to the usual issues and themes previously tackled by the author throughout his narrative. The novel focuses on the love triangle involving Claude [Claudius], Trudy [Gertrude] and John Cairncross [King Hamlet] and narrates how the lovers plot the murder of the husband from the unusual perspective of a proto-Hamlet in the womb. Despite the fact that he is rewriting a Shakespearean work, the author remains faithful to his style and favourite topics, displaying the function of the family as destructive rather than constructive, conditioning the later development of the children and rendering them devoid of the affection needed. Similarly, Nutshell also depicts his recurrent configuration of mothers as authoritative and destructive, especially for the natural growth of their offspring.
When Was Brexit? Reading Backward to the Present
This introductory article lays out the stakes of thinking through the temporalities of Brexit history across multiple fields of vision. It makes the case for books as one archive of Brexit subjects and feelings, and it glosses all the articles in the special issue.
Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl and the Hogarth Shakespeare Project
This article focuses on Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl (2016), a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew published in the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, to explore how the novel and the series seek to create affective ‘middlebrow’ communities that purport to keep Shakespeare alive through love. Counter-intuitively, Tyler chose to adapt a play whose gender politics are unlovable to many twenty-first-century American readers, including the author. But although Tyler has said that she ‘hates’ Shakespeare, her solution is surprisingly to inspire mild, positive feelings in her readers. In mediating Shakespeare in this way, Tyler effectively strengthens bonds of empathy and affection between herself and her readers. Extending its claim, the article argues that the Hogarth Shakespeare Project is a ‘middlebrow’ publishing enterprise, in the sense that it uses Shakespeare to cultivate communities built on the relationship between the adapting author and her readers.
J. G. A. Pocock's magnum opus, The Machiavellian Moment, seems an unlikely contender as an intimation of Brexit. Published in 1975, his study of the revival of classical Republicanism in Renaissance Italy and the struggle to uphold a universal ideal of active citizenship could not be further removed from Britain's departure from the European Union forty-five years later. But the wider production context suggests that it might be worth probing the possible connections. This article examines Pocock's protracted reckoning with Britain's entry into the European Economic Community in the early 1970s amid the ruptures of empire's end. It seeks to tease out the existential underpinnings not only of the latter-day exigencies of leaving but also of the persistent habit of harnessing that ambition to a reimagining of Britain's global coordinates.
Badiouian Diagnosis, Lacanian Cure, Sartrean Responsibility
One cannot be responsible for a generic truth, argues Badiou in his critical rejoinder to Sartre; one can only be its militant. Challenging Badiou's formulation, I propose that his plea for a new stage of the communist hypothesis, which unfolds in the wake of subjective decomposition of the Left, must draw upon the Sartrean notion of collective responsibility to affirm interminable inscription of the egalitarian axiom in a novel political sequence without forcing a violent realisation of equality. Encapsulated in an enigmatic formula, ‘one and one make one,’ Sartrean ethics of the Same compel the Badiouian militant subject to heed the excluded demands of the new proletariat insofar as the latter occupies ‘a point of exile where it is possible that something, finally, might happen.’
The Dark Lady evoked in Shakespeare's Sonnets has been the subject of numerous speculations since the Victorian period. Several male writers and critics – George Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris, A. L. Rowse and Anthony Burgess, for example – have undertaken extended imaginative explorations of this alternative woman. More recently, the Dark Lady has become a central figure in millennial novels by women writers, designed primarily for a female reading audience. This article considers what's at stake by placing this imaginary woman at the heart of Shakespeare's artistic inspiration, and what this tells us about the meaning(s) of ‘Shakespeare’ for contemporary women writers and readers.
Natalie K. Eschenbaum
This article considers how Anne Tyler's novel, Vinegar Girl (Hogarth, 2016), adopts and adapts the critical debate concerning misogyny in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Social historians have helped to contextualise the shrew-taming plot, some claiming that Shakespeare's tale is romantic when read in context; however, students push back against such conclusions, arguing that teaching Shrew and its informing histories reinforces the patriarchy and risks normalising misogyny. My argument is structured, in part, as a response to students’ concerns, and is informed by girlhood and cultural studies. I survey Tyler's purposeful use of the powerful term ‘girl’ to show how the taming plot is modernised, but remains misogynistic. Vinegar Girl reveals how any tale about taming a woman has an underlying message of male dominance. In Tyler's novel, misogynistic values are sometimes romanticised, sometimes criticised, and frequently both simultaneously. In this contradictory way, it is very much like Shakespeare's original play.