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Is The Tragic Always The Tragic? Kierkegaard On Antiquity And Modernity In Shakespeare

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers whether Shakespeare?s tragedies are, in Søren Kierkegaard?s terms, ancient or modern. The text of Kierkegaard?s with which the chapter is chiefly concerned is ?Ancient Tragedy?s Reflection in the Modern? from Either/Or (1843), addressed by a pseudonymous Aesthete to a fictitious society of grave-dwellers, and subtitled an ?Essay in the Fragmentary Endeavor.? The chapter argues that Shakespeare?s tragedies resist simple characterization as ancient or modern, but do not ultimately settle how best to describe them. The first section of the chapter introduces Kierkegaard?s essay; it takes Hegel?s Aesthetics as its starting point, but pointedly critiques some of Hegel?s conclusions. The second section focuses on Shakespeare. It argues that the bard?s tragedies cannot be neatly characterized as ancient or as modern, then assesses two further ways of viewing his tragedies: as ?truly?modern tragedies in a non-Hegelian sense, or as religious dramas.

Keywords: Hegel; modern tragedies; Søren Kierkegaard; Shakespeare



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