Eclipse Of Action: Tragedy And Political Economy

Hardcover | March 22, 2017

byRichard Halpern

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According to traditional accounts, the history of tragedy is itself tragic: following a miraculous birth in fifth-century Athens and a brilliant resurgence in the early modern period, tragic drama then falls into a marked decline. While disputing the notion that tragedy has died, this wide-ranging study argues that it faces an unprecedented challenge in modern times from an unexpected quarter: political economy.

Since Aristotle, tragedy has been seen as uniquely exhibiting the importance of action for human happiness. Beginning with Adam Smith, however, political economy has claimed that the source of happiness is primarily production. Eclipse of Action examines the tense relations between action and production, doing and making, in playwrights from Aeschylus, Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Milton to Beckett, Arthur Miller, and Sarah Kane. Richard Halpern places these figures in conversation with works by Aristotle, Smith, Hegel, Marx, Hannah Arendt, Georges Bataille, and others in order to trace the long history of the ways in which economic thought and tragic drama interact.

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According to traditional accounts, the history of tragedy is itself tragic: following a miraculous birth in fifth-century Athens and a brilliant resurgence in the early modern period, tragic drama then falls into a marked decline. While disputing the notion that tragedy has died, this wide-ranging study argues that it faces an unpreced...

Richard Halpern is the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Literature at New York University. He is the author of several books, including Norman Rockwell: The Underside of Innocence, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 22, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022643365X

ISBN - 13:9780226433653

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter One    “Thy Bloody and Invisible Hand”: Tragedy and Political Economy
Chapter Two   Greek Tragedy and the Raptor Economy: The Oresteia
Chapter Three Marlowe’s Theater of Night: Doctor Faustus and Capital
Chapter Four   Hamlet and the Work of Death
Chapter Five   The Same Old Grind: Milton’s Samson as Subtragic Hero
Chapter Six     Hegel, Marx, and the Novelization of Tragedy
Chapter Seven Beckett’s Tragic Pantry
Postscript        After Beckett
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Eclipse of Action brilliantly correlates the rise of political economy with the attenuation of action, virtue, and selfhood in tragic drama. Halpern’s inventive readings of Aeschylus, Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Beckett disclose the unfolding of tragedy in response to the performative life and statistical capture of labor. Here we find a revelatory theoretical space triangulated by Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Hannah Arendt.”