Shakespearean Pragmatism: Market of His Time

Overview

Just as Shakespeare's theater was an economic gamble, subject to the workings of a market, so the plays themselves submit actions, persons, and motives to an audience's judgment. Such a theatrical economy, Lars Engle suggests, provides a model for the way in which truth is determined and assessed in the world at large—a model much like that offered by contemporary pragmatism.

To Engle, the problems of worth, price, and value that appear so frequently in Shakespeare's works ...

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Overview

Just as Shakespeare's theater was an economic gamble, subject to the workings of a market, so the plays themselves submit actions, persons, and motives to an audience's judgment. Such a theatrical economy, Lars Engle suggests, provides a model for the way in which truth is determined and assessed in the world at large—a model much like that offered by contemporary pragmatism.

To Engle, the problems of worth, price, and value that appear so frequently in Shakespeare's works reveal a playwright dramatizing the negotiable nature of perception and belief—in short, the nature of his audience's purchase on reality. This innovative argument is the first to view Shakespeare in the context of contemporary pragmatism and to show that Shakespeare in many ways anticipated pragmatism as it has been developed in the thought of Richard Rorty, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, and others. With detailed reference to the sonnets and plays, Engle explores Shakespeare's tendency to treat knowledge, truth, and certainty as relatively stable goods within a theatrical economy of social interaction. He shows the playwright recasting kingship, aristocracy, and poetic immortality in pragmatic terms.

As attentive to history as it is to contemporary theory, this book mediates between current and traditional accounts of Shakespeare. In doing so, it offers a sweeping new account of Shakespeare's enterprise that will interest philosophers, literary theorists, and Shakespeare scholars alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Engle (English, U. of Tulsa) argues that how Shakespeare submitted actions, persons, and motives to an audience's judgement, has much in common with important aspects of modern pragmatism. He says that problems of worth, price, and value, which appear frequently in the plays, reveal his awareness of the negotiable nature of the audience's perception and belief. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226209425
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
I Toward Shakespearean Pragmatism
2 Certainty and Uncertainty in the Sonnets 27
3 Dramatic Pragmatism in Hamlet 54
II Transactions over Time
4 Money and Moral Luck in The Merchant of Venice 77
5 Who Pays in the Henriad? 107
6 Pragmatism and Influence in A Midsummer Night's Dream 129
III Pragmatism and Perspectival Politics
7 Always Already in the Market: The Politics of Evaluation in Troilus and Cressida 147
8 Nobility, the Market, and the Moral Economy of the Roman Crowd in Coriolanus 164
9 Plasticity and Politics in Antony and Cleopatra 196
Coda 225
Notes 229
Index 263
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