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The Tears of Sovereignty

Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama

Philip Lorenz

Publication Year: 2013

A comparative study of the representation of sovereignty in paradigmatic plays of early modernity, The Tears of Sovereignty argues that the great playwrights of the period--William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Calderón de la Barca--reconstitute the metaphors through which contemporary theorists continue to conceive the problems of sovereignty . The book focuses in particular on the ways the logics of these metaphors inform sovereignty's conceptualization as a "body of power." Each chapter is organized around a key tropological operation performed on that "body," from the analogical relations invoked in Richard II, through the metaphorical transfers staged in Measure for Measure to the autoimmune resistances they produce in Lope's Fuenteovejuna, and, finally, the allegorical returns of Calderón's Life is a Dream and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. The "tears" of sovereignty are the exegetical tropes produced and performed on the English stages and Spanish corrales of the seventeenth century through which we continue to view sovereignty today.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4


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pp. v-6

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pp. vii-xi

This book has taken me a long time to finish. During the course of its writing and the many turns that have accompanied it, I have accumulated an enormous amount of debt—but some kinds of debt are good. It is a pleasure to be able to recognize and thank the extraordinary...

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Introduction: The Body Is Burning—Sovereignty, Image, Trope

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pp. 1-32

On December 1, 1613, England’s King James I ordered that a book, A Defense of the Catholic Faith against the Errors of the Anglican Sect (Defensio fidei), by the Jesuit theologian and philosopher Francisco Suárez, be burned in front of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.1 The Spanish Ambassador to...

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1. Breakdown: Analogy and Ontotheology in Richard II

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pp. 33-58

Theory must move among the events,” Machiavelli writes in a 1503 letter to Piero Soderini. Ten years later, he writes to Soderini again: “. . . that man is fortunate who harmonizes his procedure with his time, but on the contrary he is not fortunate who in his actions is...

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2Reanimation: The Logic of Transfer in Measure for Measure

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pp. 59-96

In the second installment of his “brain-dead trilogy,” Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother), Pedro Almodóvar tells the story of Manuela (Cecelia Roth), a mother and Transplant Coordinator at the Ramón y Cajal hospital in Madrid. Manuela’s job is to train doctors...

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3. Resistance: Waiting for Power in Fuenteovejuna

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pp. 97-152

How to make politics sweet? Natural? Nourishing? Not only for the “good life,” but for all life? “How is it possible to ‘politicize’ [what Aristotle refers to as] the ‘natural sweetness’ of zoē?”1 These are among the questions Giorgio Agamben asks in his philosophical critique of...

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4. Transformation: The Body Moves Out in Life Is a Dream

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pp. 153-203

Calderón de la Barca’s Life Is a Dream (La vida es Sueño) (1635) has been described as the “ultimate work of theatrical theology.”1 Considered one of the most philosophically complex works of the early modern period, Life Is a Dream not only raises theological and political...

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5. Return: The “Wrinkles” of Mystery in The Winter’s Tale

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pp. 204-237

The representational shift, into the allegorical figures of the cipher and the image (cifras y estampas) staged in Life Is a Dream, appears to provide us with one form of an ending. By the time we arrive at Calderón’s dream play, the effects of sovereignty’s rupture from the...

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pp. 239-245

In lieu of a conclusion, I would like to consider what remains. What, in the end, do the “tears,” or tropes of sovereignty, come together to show? Throughout these pages, I have focused on both how the problem of sovereignty has been imagined by the great playwrights...


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pp. 247-343

Works Cited

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pp. 345-369


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pp. 371-379

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251315
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251308
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251306

Page Count: 392
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth

OCLC Number: 867739901
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Tears of Sovereignty

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • English drama -- Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600 -- History and criticism.
  • Spanish drama -- Classical period, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism
  • Kings and rulers in literature.
  • Sovereignty in literature.
  • Power (Philosophy) in literature.
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