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Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics$
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Thomas P. Anderson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697342

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697342.001.0001

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Friendship, Sovereignty and Political Discord in Coriolanus

Friendship, Sovereignty and Political Discord in Coriolanus

(p.29) Chapter 2 Friendship, Sovereignty and Political Discord in Coriolanus
Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics

Thomas P. Anderson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter re-orients the way that early modern political sovereignty is understood by arguing that the relationship between Coriolanus and Aufidius is a friendship predicated on agonism and discord. The chapter’s close examination of their alliance and eventual betrayal establishes the counter-politics of friendship that organizes political relationships explored throughout the book. A fragile warrior-friendship links the two men in shared estrangement. In claiming that the two rivals embody a singular type of friendship with resonant political implications, the chapter revises early modern theories of friendship from Erasmus, Bacon, and Montaigne, as well as friendship theory from their classical predecessors Cicero and Aristotle. Shakespeare’s depiction of amicitia perfecta offers a critical point of intervention in contemporary accounts by Foucault and Derrida of the political potential inherent in a friendship characterized by dissensus, not amity. Coriolanus stages the possibility of radicalizing the citizen/state binary, glimpsing the fragile grounds of a potentially new communal politics embodied in a fragile warrior friendship.

Keywords:   Sovereignty, politics of friendship, hospitality, discord, Derrida, Cicero, Montaigne

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