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Ian McEwan Celebrates Shakespeare

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.

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Loving Shakespeare

Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl and the Hogarth Shakespeare Project

Elizabeth Rivlin


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.

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A Malady of the Left and an Ethics of Communism

Badiouian Diagnosis, Lacanian Cure, Sartrean Responsibility

Andrey Gordienko

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.’

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Katherine Scheil


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.

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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.

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Fabrice Poussin, Charles Baudelaire, and Cedric Watts

Crowds, by Fabrice Poussin

Elevation, by Charles Baudelaire; translated by Cedric Watts

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Mary Edwards

This paper aims to show that Sartre’s later work represents a valuable resource for feminist scholarship that remains relatively untapped. It analyses Sartre’s discussions of women’s attitude towards their situation from the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, alongside Beauvoir’s account of women’s situation in The Second Sex, to trace the development of Sartre’s thought on the structure of gendered experience. It argues that Sartre transitions from reducing psychological oppression to self-deception in Being and Nothingness to construing women as ‘survivors’ of it in The Family Idiot. Then, it underlines the potential for Sartre’s mature existentialism to contribute to current debates in feminist philosophy by illuminating the role of the imagination in women’s psychological oppression.

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Daniel O’Shiel

I argue for three different concepts of God in Being and Nothingness. First I review the relevant scholarship with regard to Sartre, religion, and God. Second I show how Sartre uses three Gods in his ontological system: God as Nature, God as radical Otherness, and God as absolute Value. Third I show that Sartre’s conception of the imaginary explains how a purer, more theoretical conception of God can be perverted into more anthropocentrised and anthropomorphised versions. Fourth I consider the consequences of sticking to more Sartrean notions which ultimately can emphasise humility, respect, and responsibility before Nature, the Other, and Value, thereby calling for a reduction of both anthropomorphism and -centrism in religious faith and our conceptions of God.

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American Extraterritorial Legislation

The Data Gathering behind the Sanctions

Ali Laïdi


Since the early 2000s, the United States’ different administrations of justice have been prosecuting foreign companies suspected of violating US laws on bribery of foreign public officials and of failing to respect embargoes and economic sanctions. Even if these violations take place outside US borders, the American prosecution authorities (including the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of Foreign Assets Control) consider themselves legitimate to intervene. European multinationals have been particularly sanctioned. For instance, in 2014, fines reached up to 9 billion dollars for the French bank BNP, which was accused of using dollars in its transactions with certain countries sanctioned by the US (mainly Iran, Cuba and Sudan). Punishing companies and hitting them in the wallet are not the only objectives of the American administration. The United States takes advantage of legal procedures against foreign companies to collect millions of bytes of data, sometimes including sensitive information on them as well as on their partners and markets. Facing this legal offensive, Europe is still struggling to provide responses to protect its companies.

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Canonising Shakespeare in 1920s Japan

Tsubouchi Shōyō and the Translator's Choice

Daniel Gallimore


In 1927, just before completing the first Japanese translation of Shakespeare's Complete Works, Tsubouchi Shōyō (1859–1935) selected eight of his translations for inclusion in his own Selected Works, which were published in fifteen volumes in conclusion to his career as one of the leading exponents of cultural reform of his generation. His choice is idiosyncratic as it omits the plays that had become most popular during the period of Shakespeare's initial reception in late nineteenth-century Japan, but includes a number that were relatively unknown, such as Measure for Measure. This article suggests likely reasons for his selection before discussing the comments he makes on each play in his translation prefaces, and thus provides an overview of what Tsubouchi had come to value about Shakespeare.