By Jonathan Hart (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Poetics of Otherness: War, Trauma, and Literature
Columbus had been a hero until the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary in 1992 became somewhat a commemoration and a recognition of the trauma the Natives suffered. From the start, Las Casas’s Short Account was used as an instance or trauma and dislocation and became a weapon by authors writing in Italian, French, English, and Dutch in a propaganda war against Spain, which was the great European power of much of the sixteenth century. Prefaces and translations were used to show that Spanish cruelty in the New World might well have a typology in its war in the Netherlands, which was asserting its independence from Spain in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Shakespeare affirms and questions the power of the prince and king. He produces a drama of meaning, in which the ambiguity, ambivalence, and contradiction of the words play on the stage and in print in a space where the tension and semantic range are produced between speaker and audience, author and reader. The composer composes and the actor plays the music of the script. Shakespeare produces his own scores and music in his verbal musicality, what Bernard Shaw called his verbal music, and what Shaw viewed as the combination of decorative and dramatic music that Mozart, Shakespeare, and Shelley had.
They are creations, but as the author vanishes more and more into the past, his creation remains vivid enough to be embodied over and over in the theatre and on film. Although millions of real lives are lost to oblivion or the slightest of traces, and even the lives of playwrights from that period are sketchy, the characters live in a way that seems quite real. The rejection of Falstaff divided critics for years, and Charles Dickens was pressed by his public to revive Little Nell. The imagination is part of the world, but it is relegated to literary history or reading or performance on the stage or in motion pictures as they were once called.