Hamlet & the Rethinking of Man

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1st Edition

240 x 160 mm. 256pp ... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

This study of Hamlet is the first to construe the dynamics of the play on the conceptual level - that is, as occurring within the constitutive processes and principles of conceptualisation. The focus concerns not merely particular thoughts attributed to particular characters, nor the relation between those thoughts and the epoch during which they were written, but more importantly the relation between thoughts and the intrinsic dynamics of thinking. The result is a disclosure and clarification of what has never before been seen in the play: namely, the reciprocity between what is thought and how thinking operates and achieves its ideas.

The goal of this inquiry is to clarify the transformation of the use and understanding of the thinking faculty through which the human individual exercises and realises his or her own humanity. Such transformation risks a double bind: thought can be changed only by thinking, but thinking depends on prior concepts in order to proceed. As a character, Hamlet is often linked with the act of thinking - in the play by both himself and others, and outside the play through centuries of commentary.

Yet the deepest import of the emphasis on thinking in Hamlet concerns not what is thought, nor even what is thought about the value of thought, but the subtle and penetrating critique and reconfiguration which the conception of rationality, in its diverse ramifications, undergoes. That is, the complex implications of thinking in the play, including the link between thought and action, emerge more fully when framed by the shattering and supersession of antecedent notions of the faculty of reason.

The exegetical aims of Hamlet and the Rethinking of Man can be summarised topically: to isolate the conceptual apparatus active in the world of the play; to trace its origins, including those pertaining to Christian Humanism and the Aristotelian-Thomist synthesis with its assumption of 'the sovereignty of reason' (1.4.73); to analyse how and in what respects this conceptual apparatus construes the human act or 'what is a man' (4.4.33); to track the ways in which the play subjects the components of this apparatus to dramatic conflict that reveals their inherent paradoxes and contradictions not before noted; to explicate the new conceptual dispensation which results from this disintegration, including its intellectual and moral implications; and to address the factors tending, even after dismantlement to reconstitute and encourage reversion to the former dispensation. Investigation of these matters enables a more intimate grasp of Hamlet's predicament and accomplishment.

Eric P. Levy is an Associate Professor of English at the University of British Columbia.
^ Drama ^ Shakespeare


SKU 9780838641392
Barcode # 9780838641392
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Eric P. LEVY

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