By Keri Walsh
In 1936, Simone Weil defined Sophocles’s Antigoneto French manufacturing facility
workers as “the tale of a person who, on their own, with none backing, dares
to be against her personal nation, to the legislation of that kingdom, to the pinnacle of
its executive, and who's, clearly, quickly positioned to death.” Weil’s insistence on
Antigone as a civilian protester, instead of Hegel’s version of female household
virtue, recurs all through writing of the fascist interval. From Virginia Woolf and
Louis MacNeice within the British Isles, to Marguerite Yourcenar and Jean Anouilh in
France, Antigone got here to embrace the courageous political resistance of the person.
By 1950, Hegel’s influential studying of the play as providing rightful yet
irreconcilable claims appeared able to cave in: “as for Creon,” the Oxford
classicist Gilbert Murray advised a BBC radio viewers after the warfare, “it used to be of
course preposterous of Hegel to indicate that that he was once as a lot within the correct as
Antigone and that our sympathies can be calmly divided.” This partisan
reading of Antigonegrew in power within the post-war interval, inspiring feminist,
pacifist, and post-colonial engagements with the play.
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Like “The Waste Land” and Ulysses, Cocteau’s Antigone, a product of high modernism’s annus mirabilis of 1922, experimented with the “mythic method” to produce an aggressively iconoclastic Sophocles. By taking the 40 urgency of Antigone’s mission to bury her brother, and applying it to the sphere of art, Cocteau shattered orthodoxies on the play, suggesting that a sombre and obedient production was itself a crime against the holy criminal Antigone. Forster had brought the “mythic” protagonists into the drawing room, scaling back their rebellions and passions accordingly, until they had shrunk from grandeur to pettiness.
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