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Book Cover
Author Smith, Christian A., author.

Title Shakespeare's influence on Karl Marx : the Shakespearean roots of Marxism / by Christian A. Smith
Edition First edition
Published New York : Routledge, 2021
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (336 pages)
Series Routledge studies in Shakespeare
Routledge studies in Shakespeare.
Contents AcknowledgementsChapter I: In Love in ShakespeareChapter II: "But where then? That is the question"Chapter III: Standing the World on its Feet: The Rheinische Zeitung Articles Chapter IV: "The point is to change it"Chapter V: "That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling Commodity"Chapter VI: "Such men are dangerous:" Politics, History and RevolutionWorks Cited
Summary This volume presents a close-reading of instances of Shakespearean quotations, allusions, imagery, and rhetoric found in Karl Marx⁰́₉s collected works and letters which provides evidence that Shakespeare⁰́₉s writings exerted a formative influence on Marx and the development of his work. Through a methodology of intertextual and interlingual close-reading, this study provides evidence of the extent to which Shakespeare influenced Marx and to which Marxism has Shakespearean roots. As a child, Marx was home-schooled in Ludwig von Westphalen⁰́₉s little academy, as it were, which was Shakespeare- and literary-focused. The group included von Westphalen⁰́₉s daughter, who later became Marx⁰́₉s wife, Jenny. The influence of Shakespeare in Marx⁰́₉s writings shows up as early as his school essays and love letters. He modelled his early journalism partly on ideas and rhetoric found in Shakespeare⁰́₉s plays. Each turn in the development of Marx⁰́₉s thought ⁰́₃ from Romantic to Left Hegelian and then to Communist ⁰́₃ is achieved in part through his use of literature, especially Shakespeare. Marx⁰́₉s mature texts on history, politics and economics ⁰́₃ including the famous first volume of Das Kapital ⁰́₃ are laden with Shakespearean allusions and quotations. Marx's engagement with Shakespeare resulted in the development of a framework of characters and imagery he used to stand for and anchor the different concepts in his political critique. Marx⁰́₉s prose style uses a conceit in which politics are depicted as performative. Later, the Marx family ⁰́₃ Marx, Jenny and their children - was a central figure in the late-nineteenth-century revival of Shakespeare on the London stage, and in the growth of academic Shakespeare scholarship. Through providing evidence for a formative role of Shakespeare in the development of Marxism, the present study suggests a formative role for literature in the history of ideas
Notes Christian A. Smith received his doctorate in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. His thesis topic is "Shakespeare⁰́₉s Influence on Marx, Freud and the Frankfurt School Critical Theorists." He worked as a Teaching Fellow at Warwick English and was awarded an Honorary Shakespeare Research Fellowship at Kingston University London. He has published papers in Shakespeare Studies, Marxist Studies and Translation Studies journals and edited a Karl Marx Bicentennial special edition of Shakespeare journal. He wrote the chapter on Marxist Shakespeare Studies for The Arden Research Handbook of Contemporary Shakespeare Criticism
Title details screen
Subject Marx, Karl, 1818-1883.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Influence
Marx, Karl, 1818-1883.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.)
Form Electronic book
ISBN 1000519007