Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

Philistinism Redux

Review – The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts by Sohrab Ahmari

Identity politics, that very modern ideological constellation, with its fixation on race, class and gender, has migrated from academia into the arts. Queer theory, feminist readings, post-colonial studies – all these have carved out significant positions at the heart of the art world. Many artists and ‘creatives’ aspire to these doctrines; they increasingly govern the propagation of culture as well as new criticism of canonical art. Such things matter more than could be expected. Continue reading

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Stalin the Terrible

The century just gone was, in Robert Conquest’s telling phrase, a ‘ravaged’ one. It bore witness, as did millions of people, to some of the most extreme political conditions, most devastating wars and most evil figures in the history of the world – and I believe that word is justified. But more evil, more extreme and more ravaged by war than any other state and nation was the Soviet Union, a creation of the early 20th century which did not survive its close. If anything stands to symbolise those hundred years – more so than the Nazi regime which lasted for a mere twelve – that particular entity, Ronald Reagan’s ‘evil empire’, should do it. Continue reading

The Experience of Martin Amis

In Martin Amis’s memoir, Experience, he includes verbatim reproductions of letters he sent as a teenager and young man, primarily to his father, to add depth to his own character and to provide an interesting dual-track narrative, which runs parallel to the more conventional course of the book. He confesses fairly early on in his contemporary account that the letters were written by a person he does not recognise, someone who is not even perceptibly him – though this could of course be the product of reflexive embarrassment at observing his youthful precocity after all of the years which had passed. Continue reading

Barack Obama: The Imperilled President

According to the ‘Imperial President’ theory as put forward by Arthur M. Schlesinger, the office of President of the United States has been steadily and repeatedly accruing powers towards its own advancement. A modern president has increasing control over the federal bureaucracy, for instance, and his orders on extra-judicial matters are likely to be stronger now than they have been in a long time. The imperial president gains many of his powers in times of war; and as the United States has spent most of the last half-century fighting one war or another (in various guises), it is suggested that this has led to increasing powers for the presidency in our own times. But there is a flipside to this famous declaration: presidents may also eschew matters imperial, and instead of that particular moniker, they may have the sobriquet of ‘imperilled’ – in the words of Shakespeare’s Malvolio – ‘thrust upon ‘em’. Barack Obama is one such president.
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An Exploration of Femininity in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Euripides’ Medea

In Medea and Macbeth, both Euripides and William Shakespeare present central female characters in ways that defied the social conventions of their respective eras, influencing different audiences – ancient, Jacobean and modern alike – to consider universal themes such as the feminine within the context of more traditional, patriarchal societies, and indeed our own. Continue reading