The Comedy of Terror

The Comedy of Terror Page 164 REFLECTIONS AND REPORTS They say this town is full of cozenage, As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye, Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, Soul-killing witches that deform the body, Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks, And many such-like liberties of sin. —William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors Cedric J. Robinson Over four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare evoked the specter of public spellbinders: “nimble jugglers,” “dark-working sorcerers,” and “soul-killing witches” who “deceived the eye,” “changed minds,” and “deformed the body.” In this, the first of his comedies, Shakespeare summoned the ghost of a corrupted city, a deformed body politic owed to “disguised cheaters” and “prating mountebanks.” He was, of course, obliquely referring to Elizabethan London, a town immersed in disputatious politics, which swept over and implicated Shakespeare and others constituting England’s cultural intelligentsia. And London’s theater, a principal site of public opinion forming, contentious elite patronage, and artifice, translated the state’s interests into beguiling entertainment. In all these matters, it is tempting to transfer Shakespeare’s insights to the circumstances of present-day American politics and the dominant media and journalistic cultures that function to conceal that disturbing reality from the American public. Historically in America, national crises have http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Radical History Review Duke University Press

The Comedy of Terror

Radical History Review, Volume 2003 (85) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by MARHO: The Radical Historians' Organization, Inc.
ISSN
0163-6545
eISSN
1534-1453
D.O.I.
10.1215/01636545-2003-85-164
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 164 REFLECTIONS AND REPORTS They say this town is full of cozenage, As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye, Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, Soul-killing witches that deform the body, Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks, And many such-like liberties of sin. —William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors Cedric J. Robinson Over four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare evoked the specter of public spellbinders: “nimble jugglers,” “dark-working sorcerers,” and “soul-killing witches” who “deceived the eye,” “changed minds,” and “deformed the body.” In this, the first of his comedies, Shakespeare summoned the ghost of a corrupted city, a deformed body politic owed to “disguised cheaters” and “prating mountebanks.” He was, of course, obliquely referring to Elizabethan London, a town immersed in disputatious politics, which swept over and implicated Shakespeare and others constituting England’s cultural intelligentsia. And London’s theater, a principal site of public opinion forming, contentious elite patronage, and artifice, translated the state’s interests into beguiling entertainment. In all these matters, it is tempting to transfer Shakespeare’s insights to the circumstances of present-day American politics and the dominant media and journalistic cultures that function to conceal that disturbing reality from the American public. Historically in America, national crises have

Journal

Radical History ReviewDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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