In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

360Philosophy and Literature Semitism was not die pale, merely indecorous, "stupid suburban prejudice" Pound admitted to in conversation widi Allen Ginsberg. Pound's fascist antiSemitism in the Pisan Cantos, as in his broadcasts, was the murderous theory of which Auschwitz was the practice. Simon Fraser UniversityD. D. Todd IfIt Were Done: Macbeth and Tragic Action, byJames L. Calderwood; xvii & 156 pp. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986, $17.50. Calderwood's latest work is an addition to his already considerable body of Shakespearean criticism, in which he advanced the idea of metadrama (Shakespearean Metadrama, 1971) originaUy with the assertion that "Shakespeare's plays are not only about die various moral, social, political, and other thematic issues with which critics have so long and quite properly been busy but also about Shakespeare's plays." FoUowing treatments of die second Henriad and of Hamlet, his attention turns in diis relatively short study to Macbeth, primarily as "Counter-Hamlet": so Calderwood, in his opening chapter, sees considerable significance for the playwright in the fact that "in Hamlet future action is repeatedly deferred and frustrated, in Macbeth it is constandy anticipated and impending" (p. 12). If die first chapter is particularly concerned with time, the second resolutely confronts die problem of action in Macbeth, with attention firmly placed on die murder of Duncan, an act in which we as audience direcdy share, Calderwood suggests, by the simple requirement diat we imagine it. Calderwood would also see die act as constituting Macbeth himself as Oedipal figure (see especially "The Horrid Deed," pp. 53-56), passing from chUd to man through murder. The final and third section of die book, excluding appended "Supplements," returns to an earlier tenet of Calderwood's on metadrama that violent dramatic action establishes itself by an assault on language. His placement of tiie warrior Macbedi inside the "ceremony of violence" (p. 83) that is batde marks a shift from notions of metadrama and negativity in section one, dirough a Freudian and indeed Aristotelian concept of the act-making man in his second, to what Calderwood freely caUs "a kind ofpsycho-sociological look at the play" (p. 73) in his third. The concluding "Supplements" pick up "uireads" — "a wayward pack of clarifications and confusions" (p. xvii) — diat die leading argument has left behind. Calderwood is a critic of great farility. Noneuieless, simplicity is occasionally lacking— if Hamlet defers, and Macbeth acts, then a legitimate suggestion Reviews361 might weU be empirical (that Hamlet, as student, is a great talker) radier than the necessary contradiction that Calderwood assumes. A simUar criticism applies to die central chapter, where a concern for murder as a sexual act seems almost arbitrarily placed on Macbeth because die writer now wishes to write on diat play rather dian on, say, Othello. If diere were to be a criticism of the critic, it would be of a decline in ambition , from die sharp perceptions oí Shakespearean Metadrama dirough die niceties of language, in particular naming and metaphor, in intervening studies to what is, in some profound essentials, a fairly plain post-Freudian reading of die text in this latest book. Nor is Calderwood much concerned to envisage the play, and draw his aesthetics from that picture. Calderwood's work over two decades is, unfortunately, a microcosm of die subjection of material to the inner logic of critical taste, diat at times places itself firmly in line for the increasingly ridiculous category of a renascent scholasticism: e.g., "This making 'somediing nodiing by augmenting it' sounds radier like Jacques Derrida's concept of die 'supplement' — diat is, an excess added to a sufficiency, but paradoxicaUy, because its presence implies a prior insufficiency, also a replacement of a lack" (p. 57). The accompanying n. 22, for aU its apparent humor, prompts a Shakespearian consideration on a condition perhaps arising from a similar predisposition : "Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!" An example, one might reluctantly hazard, of Shakespearean metacriticism. University of AucklandG. K. H. Ley The Philosophical Disenfranchisement ofArt, by Arthur C. Danto; xvi & 210 pp. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, $24.00. The seven at times quite closely related essays coUected here were aU originaUy prepared as lecture presentations, and...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 360-361
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.