At TELOSscope , Nicole Burgoyne interviews David Pan, translator of the first English edition of Carl Schmitt’s 1956 foray into literary theory, Hamlet or Hecuba: The Intrusion of Time into the Play:
Nicole Burgoyne: Hamlet or Hecuba: The Intrusion of the Time into the Play represents a bit of a departure from Schmitt’s usual juristic theoretical work. At the beginning of the book he makes quite clear that he means to appeal to the literary lover of Shakespeare and to provide a new understanding of the text. How important was literature to Schmitt? Is literature simply another vehicle to explore Schmitt’s other key concepts, such as his definition of the sovereign, the exception, the friend/enemy dichotomy, etc.?
David Pan: Literature was important to Schmitt from very early in his career; one of his first publications was a book of literary criticism on the Expressionist poem Nordlicht, by Theodor Däubler. This interest was linked to his political theory to the extent that this theory began with the assumption that politics was based in theology. Though his Roman Catholicism and Political Form theorizes this link in terms of the Catholic Church, his nationalist attitudes brought his interest in theology back to an engagement with the kinds of literary texts, such as Hamlet for England, that make up a national culture.
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