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Hamlet's Arab JourneyShakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost$
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Margaret Litvin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691137803

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691137803.001.0001

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Time Out of Joint, 1967–76

Time Out of Joint, 1967–76

(p.114) 5 Time Out of Joint, 1967–76
Hamlet's Arab Journey

Margaret Litvin

Princeton University Press

This chapter begins with the cultural impact of the June War and its coda, Gamal Abdel Nasser's death in 1970. As the chapter shows, the defeat fundamentally altered Arab conceptions of political theatre's role. A well-developed high culture was no longer considered enough to guarantee the world's respect. Psychological interiority was irrelevant: what mattered was not deserving agentive power but seizing it. Disillusioned with their regimes, dramatists stopped addressing subtly allegorical plays to the government; instead, they appealed directly to audiences, trying to rouse them to participate in political life. Analyzing two early 1970s Hamlet adaptations from Egypt and Syria, the chapter demonstrates how the 1970s Hamlet became a Che Guevara in doublet and hose. Guilt and sadness over his father's death only sharpened his anger; his fierce pursuit of justice left no room for introspection or doubt.

Keywords:   June War, Gamal Abdel Nasser, political theatre, political participation, Hamlet adaptations, 1970s, political agency, death

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