The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1687  Wednesday, 27 August 2003

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Aug 2003 13:10:34 +0100
Subject: 14.1665 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1665 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Hugh Grady wrote

>I've always thought Marx learned a lot from Shakespeare.
>Look at the famous speech on gold in "Timon of Athens."
>It's a fair summary of Marx on the power of money and
>commodity fetishism. Marx certainly thought so. He quoted
>it repeatedly. In that sense, Marx was a Shakespearean,
>and Shakespeare a Marxist. But we all knew that, no?

The rightness of what Hugh is saying is often resisted by
Shakespearians, and one of the main reasons is that 'commodity
fetishism' is widely misunderstood.

One can see a Shakespearian getting it wrong in Dympna Callaghan's
"Looking well to linens: Women and cultural production in _Othello_ and
Shakespeare's England" _Marxist Shakespeares_ edited by Jean E. Howard
and Scott Cutler Shershow, Accents on Shakespeare, General Editor
Terence Hawkes (London: Routledge, 2001) pp. 53-81. Callaghan thinks
commodity fetishism means "the erasure of the human energy that has
wrought an object so that it seems to have an entirely independent
existence" (p. 77). This is, of course, actually Marx's notion of
alienation (entfremdung).

One can see a Shakespearian getting it right in Peter Stallybrass's
brilliant essay "Marx's coat" _Border fetishisms: Material objects in
unstable spaces_ Ed. Patricia Spyer (New York: Routledge) pp. 183-207.
Stallybrass gives a moving account of Marx's precarious relationship
with his own clothes and the pawnbrokers, and in the process puts right
some common terminological misunderstandings.

If I might be allowed a little self-promotion: those who find Hugh's
claim interesting and would like to hear more about the afterlife (and
future) of Marx's ideas in relation to Shakespeare might be interested
in my monograph _Shakespeare and Marx_ in the Oxford Shakespeare Topics
series from Oxford University Press that will be out in spring 2004.

Gabriel Egan

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