MLQ Â June 2002 In the ï¬rst pages of Hamlet in Purgatory Greenblatt confesses the historicist credo: âI believe that nothing comes of nothing, even in Shakespeare.â1 This is the restricted economy of historicism, the fundamentally closed universe of eternal matter that Jacques Lacan attributes to Aristotle: âNothing is made of nothing. The whole of ancient philosophy is articulated around that point. . . . it remains mired in an image of the world that never permitted even an Aristotle . . . to emerge from the enclosure that the celestial surface presented to his eyes.â2 If we substitute history for celestial surface, we ï¬nd ourselves in the planetarium of historicism, at once awed and comforted by the overarching effect of totality it hypnotically provides. Pyeâs book fractures the crystal dome of literary historicism, using as a wedge Lacan and his most astute political readers, including Ernesto ËË Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Claude Lefort, and Slavoj Zizek. In his introduction Pye distinguishes between the âmultiplicityâ of perspectives, sources, and causes celebrated by historicism and, following Laclau and Mouffe, the âhegemonicâ character of the social ï¬eld, âthe fact that any cultural phenomenon exists always in relation to a necessarily forced
Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History – Duke University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2002
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