Introduction: Literary Humanism, Wisdom and Modernity

Andy Mousley

in Re-Humanising Shakespeare

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748623181
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652211 | DOI:
Introduction: Literary Humanism, Wisdom and Modernity

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This chapter addresses the histories of literary criticism, and tries to update and then backdate the tensions between the critic-as-sage and the critic-as-sceptic, in order to locate the kind of humanism concerned. It homogenises all forms of historicism and says that it is a form of scepticism on the basis that contemporary cultural historians tend to distrust universals. The importance of literary humanism is then reported. It is suggested that the literary humanist question of how to live (and the notions of authenticity and human nature which attend it) need not be set starkly against the critical trends associated with ‘Theory’. The chapter embeds scepticism within modernity. Shakespeare's plays create a lifeworld of the modern, rationalised variety, which provokes debate on a wealth of subjects, from love, to issues of authority, to questions of ‘how to live’ and what it is to be human.

Keywords: literary criticism; literary humanism; wisdom; modernity; Shakespeare; scepticism; how to live

Chapter.  12793 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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