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Posts Tagged ‘Text’

Shakespeare, Whitman & Emerson

In American History, Arts & Letters, Emerson, Literary Theory & Criticism, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman on August 9, 2010 at 9:55 am

In Repositioning Shakespeare, Thomas Cartelli situates Whitman’s Shakespeare in contradistinction to Emerson’s Shakespeare.

The phrase “Whitman’s Shakespeare” is, in a way, an odd construction because Whitman did not seek to claim “ownership” of Shakespeare so much as he sought an “appropriation and critical transformation” of Shakespeare (32).  Cartelli submits, in fact, that Whitman “brought a contentiously critical approach to bear on his assessments of Shakespeare” (30).

Although Cartelli pays lip-service to Emerson’s ambivalence about Shakespeare, he concludes that Emerson transformed the Bard of Avon “into a virtual founding father” by attempting “an act of wishful appropriation in which the (literary) model that cannot be superseded is annexed by the (political) model that supersedes” (33).

Cartelli thus seems convinced that Shakespeare shaped Whitman’s and Emerson’s thought, but he seems unsettled about how and why.

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