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Shakespeare in Theory and Practice$
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Catherine Belsey

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633012

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633012.001.0001

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Making Histories Then and Now: Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V

Making Histories Then and Now: Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V

Chapter:
(p.119) Chapter 8 Making Histories Then and Now: Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V
Source:
Shakespeare in Theory and Practice
Author(s):

Belsey Catherine

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633012.003.0008

This chapter reverts to a more reflective account of the second tetralogy, as well as to the problem of history in a postmodern world. Postmodernity calls into question the opposition between history and fiction, but without erasing the distinctiveness of the stories constructed about the past. It specifically reviews Shakespeare's second tetralogy as history. Marx's account of the relations of production has not been superseded by postmodernism or poststructuralism. The second tetralogy tells a story of change which begins in nostalgia for a lost golden world and ends in undecidability. Shakespeare's own practice of history-making is more complex and, ironically, more contemporary. The difference between the current histories and Shakespeare's is decisive, an effect in part of the intervening Enlightenment.

Keywords:   second tetralogy, Shakespeare, Richard II, Henry V, postmodernity, postmodernism, poststructuralism, Enlightenment

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