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Shakespeare’s Universal WolfStudies in Early Modern Reification$
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Hugh Grady

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198130048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198130048.001.0001

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‘Mad Idolatry’: Commodification and Reification in Troilus and Cressida

‘Mad Idolatry’: Commodification and Reification in Troilus and Cressida

(p.58) 2 ‘Mad Idolatry’: Commodification and Reification in Troilus and Cressida
Shakespeare’s Universal Wolf

Hugh Grady

Oxford University Press

In Troilus and Cressida, William Shakespeare presents something like a full thematic development of the complex that forms the basis of an implicit notion of Renaissance reification, presenting a complexly organized, mirrors-within-mirrors exploration of mutually metaphoring systems of power, desire, market-value, and instrumental reason. The intricate interplay in this drama between love/lechery and honour/power is an invitation to critical interpretation impossible to resist, impossible to complete. The major organizing duality in the play is not Trojans versus Greeks but the mutual metaphor between love and politics, eros and power, lechery and war. It is a vertiginous space of potential analogies, emblematic of a world of universal equivalences and commodification without any ground or objective basis — the reification of Marx's commodity fetishism, as it were, but without the labour theory of value. Thus, the play should be understood as approaching the problem of value through a strategy of negation.

Keywords:   Troilus and Cressida, William Shakespeare, lechery, Renaissance, commodification, drama, love, politics, power, instrumental reason

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