Hamlet's Heirs

Shakespeare and The Politics of a New Millennium

By Linda Charnes

© 2004 – Routledge

168 pages

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Paperback: 9780415261944
pub: 2006-04-05
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pub: 2015-07-22
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Hardback: 9780415261937
pub: 2006-04-05
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e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Speaking to readers in a voice that is adventurous rather than authoritative, innovative rather than institutional and speculative rather than orthodox, Linda Charnes’ provocative study of Shakespeare’s legacy in contemporary American and British politics explores the following themes:

  • namesake princes and presidents
  • stolen thrones and elections
  • plutocrats and insurgents
  • campaign trails and war-mongering
  • waning monarchy and imperilled democracy
  • revengers, early modern and postmodern.

Linked by focused readings of Hamlet and the Henriad, the essays follow Shakespeare’s two most famous royal sons, the Princes Hamlet and Hal, as they haunt contemporary political psychology in the early years of a new millennium, and especially in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Between devolution in Britain and the new ‘doctrine’ of pre-emptive strike in the United States, our contemporary Hamlets and Hals epitomize a debate – as fraught now as in Shakespeare’ day – about the cost of spin-doctoring legacies. In exploring how current political culture inherits Shakespeare, Hamlet’s Heirs challenges scholarly assumptions about historical periodicity, modernity and the uses of Shakespeare in present day contexts.

Reviews

'A rigorous, theoretically based mining of the assumptions and anxieties underlining life in the Western world today … Hamlet's Heirs brilliantly questions and challenges pervasive assumptions and business as usual in the arenas of both literary theory and contemporary politics.' – Renaissance Quarterly

'Balances irreverent wit with penetrating critical insight while discussing, respectively, how Anglo-American political traditions have sought to reconcile the notions of filial entitlement and meritocratic democracy.' --Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900

'In Hamlet's Heirs, Charnes takes Hamlet through several complementary iterations, creating a multifaceted portrait: historical, psychological, theoretical, pop-cultural, and primarily political. She weaves complex readings of sociology and poststructuralism with her own expert observations into an often brilliant tapestry… Linda Charnes has given us new ways to see how Hamlet pitches us into our own time and, without a doubt, beyond.' - Shakespeare Quarterly

'I found myself turning the pages irresistably because provoked into wanting to re-read and re-think Hamlet, despite having edited Hamlet Studies for twenty-five years.' R.W. Desai, The Shakespeare Newsletter

About the Series

Accents on Shakespeare

The Accents on Shakespeare series provides short, powerful 'cutting edge' accounts of and comments on new developments in Shakespeare studies. The volumes either 'apply' theory, or broaden and adapt it in order to connect with concrete teaching concerns. In the process, they also reflect and engage with the major developments in Shakespearean studies of the last ten years.

Since the New Accents series was established, 'theory' as a fundamental feature of the study of literature, the need for short, 'cutting-edge' accounts of and comments on new developments in literary studies has increased enormously. In the case of Shakespeare, Accents on Shakespeare supplies an exciting range of provocative new titles. The books in the series either apply theory, or broaden and adapt it to connect with teaching concerns. In the process they also reflect and engage with the major developments in Shakespearean studies of recent years.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General
LIT004120
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
LIT015000
LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare