Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

Post-Colonial Shakespeares

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

Post-Colonial Shakespeares

Article excerpt

Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin (eds), Post-colonial Shakespeares, London, Routledge, 1998, pp. xii + 308, pb. £12.99, ISBN: 041573876

This book is very much a Festschrift in honour of South Africas liberation from apartheid and it is imbued with some of the energy and exhilaration of that momentous if still partly undetermined change. The essays which comprise the volume were originally given as papers at Shakespeare-Post-coloniality-Johannesburg, 1996, an international conference which took place when South Africa had reformed under a new ANC government after the first democratic elections of 1994.

Far from being a rehearsal, then, of the problem of Caliban, Post-colonial Shakespeares is an interesting and unusual book which is full of surprising and sometimes urgent insights that will excite students, scholars, and anyone else who is interested in either Shakespeare or our post-colonial condition. In a suggestive essay focusing on The Rape of Lucrece, Margo Hendricks shows how the Roman Republic, and ultimately the Roman Empire, is founded on Lucreces misfortune and begins to wonder and to worry at such myths of ethnic and political origin. Jonathan Burton illuminates Othellos suicide; and I can heartily recommend Terence Hawkes bravura Bryn Glas, which opens the neglected subject of Shakespeare and Wales.

Post-colonial Shakespeares is also admirably broad-church. In its stimulating opening piece, Jerry Brotton questions colonial readings of The Tempest, emphasising the eastern Mediterranean geography of the play. Brotton notes the exclusion of the Turks from this landscape and detects a Shakespearean anxiety about English trade with the infidel. …

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