Making Histories Then and Now: Shakespeare from <i>Richard II</i> to <i>Henry V</i>

Belsey Catherine

in Shakespeare in Theory and Practice

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633012
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652235 | DOI:
Making Histories Then and Now: Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V

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This chapter reverts to a more reflective account of the second tetralogy, as well as to the problem of history in a postmodern world. Postmodernity calls into question the opposition between history and fiction, but without erasing the distinctiveness of the stories constructed about the past. It specifically reviews Shakespeare's second tetralogy as history. Marx's account of the relations of production has not been superseded by postmodernism or poststructuralism. The second tetralogy tells a story of change which begins in nostalgia for a lost golden world and ends in undecidability. Shakespeare's own practice of history-making is more complex and, ironically, more contemporary. The difference between the current histories and Shakespeare's is decisive, an effect in part of the intervening Enlightenment.

Keywords: second tetralogy; Shakespeare; Richard II; Henry V; postmodernity; postmodernism; poststructuralism; Enlightenment

Chapter.  8861 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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