How did we arrive at a point in history at which we take it for granted that everything, literally everything, is calculable and billable? Can Shakespeare tell us something about this? About our obsession with the logic of the offset, human capital, impact factors, evaluations, redundancies and austerity? These questions are raised at the beginning of Verena Olejniczak Lobsien’s tour de force through Shakespeare’s work. She addresses them on almost five-hundred pages divided into seven chapters, by looking back at a period in history when the economic weltanschauung begins to gain contours but has not triumphed yet over what she presents as its twin: sympathy. The setting is early modern England, and the privileged ground for the investigation of the struggle between both paradigms is the use of excess in Shakespeare’s work. Lobsien claims that Shakespeare’s poetics of affect is structured along the tacit guidelines of sympathy and economy (11) to such an extent that he continuously confronts economy’s closed fist with the open hand of sympathy (12). Shakespeare’s characters “calculate, quantify, regulate, compare, exchange – but their urge to administrate their lives is constantly thwarted by a logic which cannot be controlled by austerity nor regulated by profusion”
Anglia – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 8, 2018
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