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No HamletsGerman Shakespeare from Nietzsche to Carl Schmitt$
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Andreas Höfele

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718543.001.0001

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Hamlet in Plettenberg

Hamlet in Plettenberg

Carl Schmitt and the Intrusion of the Time

8 Hamlet in Plettenberg
No Hamlets

Andreas Höfele

Oxford University Press

Carl Schmitt’s Hamlet or Hecuba (1956) has been claimed as a major contribution to Shakespearean analysis and political and cultural thought. Chapter 8 gives a fuller view of what Schmitt was aiming at and why, giving more attention than has hitherto been accorded to his predicament in post-war Germany. For Schmitt, Hamlet was a primal image of the condition of the post-war world and of his own place, or rather displacement, in it. As a portrayal of the ‘unhappy Stuart’ James I, Schmitt’s Hamlet also stands for ‘the schism that has determined the fate of Europe’. This schism extends to the ‘torn’ Germany of 1848, Europe in 1918 and ‘the whole Western world’, as Schmitt claimed in 1956. Hamlet symbolizes the larger eschatological scheme of Schmittian history and Schmitt’s own role in Germany’s recent past—as he himself saw it—trying to prevent the worst but failing.

Keywords:   Hamlet, Carl Schmitt, Lilian Winstanley, political theology, James I

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