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By Bruce King (auth.)

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Example text

This is curious as the most obvious way to read the play in socio-economic terms would be to regard Coriolanus as part of an older feudal order, the patricians, being challenged by new urban bourgeoisie of shop keepers, lawyers, traders, and other citizens. This is how Shakespeare's plays were understood by orthodox Russian Marxist critics such as A. A. Smirnov who claimed that Shakespeare criticised both social classes but was sympathetic to the citizens in Coriolanus. INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES 45 Post-structural Marxist The shift from older to new Marxist approaches came as a result of the fusion of Marxism with semiotics, structuralism, or other linguistically based theories of analysis.

Another issue that Kott and Burke avoid is how Volumnia persuades Coriolanus to change his mind. Exactly what does she say, what is effective? Attempting to avoid the self-determinacy of Marxist history, Kott has created an absurdist version in which history determines itself without any purpose. He allegorises Coriolanus into a version of Polish twentieth-century history. The way Kott's essay on Coriolanus concludes, celebrating the individual as victim of the people, seems strangely romantic.

Coriolanus is horrified by the mouth of the crowd which, a citizen says, wants to put tongues into his wounds. 'For the phallic exhibitionism of Coriolanus' life as a soldier has been designed to deny the possibility of kinship with the crowd; it has served to reassure him ofhis potency and his aggressive independence' and he fears collapse into infantile dependency. Having defined himself by opposition to the crowd Coriolanus constructs in Aufidius a likeness ofhimself, a mirror image of what he wants to be.

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