Robert Appelbaum

in Terrorism Before the Letter

Published in print December 2015 | ISBN: 9780198745761
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191808197 | DOI:

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In keeping with the second category of action according to the grammar of motives, terrorist violence is discussed as an action accomplished by an ‘agent’. The concept of literary character is examined, beginning with the notion of grammatical actants and going on to advances in psychological complexity. Roland Barthes’s notion of character as a ‘precious remainder’ is then a key to understanding how the texts of terrorism before the letter used characterization as a method for supporting, undermining, modulating, or overcoming the political ideologies at play. Characters and persons focused on include Henry III and his assassin Jacques Clément, Corneille’s Cinna, Milton’s Satan, the women in Robert Garnier’s tragedies, and François Ravaillac, the assassin of Henry IV. The execution of Ravaillac is recounted at length.

Keywords: Roland Barthes; theory of character; Henry III; Jacque Clément; Cinna; Satan; François Ravaillac

Chapter.  18443 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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