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Rethinking Shakespeare's Political PhilosophyFrom Lear to Leviathan$
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Alex Schulman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682416

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682416.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Rethinking Shakespeare's Political Philosophy
Author(s):

Alex Schulman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682416.003.0006

This book asserts that William Shakespeare's plays and poems possess elements of politics and political philosophy, or, more specifically, the rise of modern secular nationalism. Such a phrase can be defined as the decline in the political legitimacy of warrior and priestly castes, and the rise of government as a specialised domain serving utilitarian purposes. The first part of the book examines Shakespeare's depiction of ancient Greco-Roman politics, mainly in Antony and Cleopatra , Julius Caesar , Coriolanus, and Troilus and Cressida. The second part discusses major concepts of early modern political philosophy — the state of nature and social contract theory, secular nationalism as a solution to sectarian conflict, the decline of corporatist feudalism and the rise of market individualism — through Shakespeare's plays,Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, Henriad, and King Lear.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, modern secular nationalism, Greco-Roman politics, modern political philosophy, state of nature, social contract, corporatist feudalism, market individualism

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