Hamlet and the Rethinking of Man
Eric P. Levy

About the Author:
Eric P. Levy (BA Union College; MA, PhD Stanford University) is Associate Professor at The University of British Columbia. He is the author of Beckett and the Voice of Species: A Study of the Prose Fiction and Trapped in Thought: A Study of the Beckettian Mentality, as well as more than fifty articles on topics and texts in Twentieth-Century American Literature, Renaissance British Literature, Victorian British Literature, and Twentieth-Century British and Irish literature, and on various other topics, including one article on Christology.

This study of Hamlet is the first to construe the dynamics of the play on the conceptual level—that is, as occurring within the constitutive processes and principles of conceptualization. The focus concerns not merely particular thoughts attributed to particular characters, nor the relation between those thoughts and the epoch during which they were written, but more importantly the relation between thoughts and the intrinsic dynamics of thinking. The result is a disclosure and clarification of what has never before been seen in the play: namely, the reciprocity between what is thought and how thinking operates and achieves its ideas.

The exegetical aims of Hamlet and the Rethinking of Man by Eric P. Levy can be summarized topically: (a) to isolate the conceptual apparatus dominant in the world of the play, (b) to trace its origins, including those pertaining to Christian Humanism and the Aristotelian-Thomist synthesis with its assumption of “the sovereignty of reason” (1.4.73), (c) to analyze how and in what respects this conceptual apparatus construes the human act or “what is a man” (4.4.33), (d) to track the ways in which the play subjects the components of this apparatus to dramatic conflict which reveals their inherent paradoxes and contradictions, (e) to explicate the new conceptual dispensation which results from this disintegration, including its intellectual and moral implications, and (f) to address the factors tending, even after dismantlement, to reconstitute and encourage reversion to the former dispensation. The concern of such inquiry is to show how intellectual tools for formulating the meaning of human experience and the interpretation of character undergo penetrating critique and eventual displacement.

ISBN: 978-0-8386-4139-2

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