Hamlet or Hecuba: The Intrusion of the Time into the Play
by Carl Schmitt and translated by David Pan and Jennifer R. Rust
Though Carl Schmitt is best known for his legal and political theory, his 1956 Hamlet or Hecuba provides an innovative and insightful analysis of Shakespeare’s tragedy in terms of the historical situation of its creation. Schmitt argues that the significance of Shakespeare’s work hinges on its ability to integrate history in the form of the taboo of the queen and the deformation of the figure of the avenger. He uses this interpretation to develop a theory of myth and politics that serves as a cultural foundation for his concept of political representation. More than literary criticism or historical analysis, Schmitt’s book lays out a comprehensive theory of the relationship between aesthetics and politics that responds to alternative ideas developed by Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. Jennifer R. Rust and Julia Reinhard Lupton’s introduction places Schmitt’s work in the context of contemporary Renaissance studies, and David Pan’s afterword analyzes the links to Schmitt’s political theory. Presented in its entirety in an authorized translation, Hamlet or Hecuba is essential reading for scholars of Shakespeare and Schmitt alike.
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