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Sophocles' Antigone is a touchstone in democratic, feminist and legal theory, and possibly the most commented upon play in the history of philosophy and political theory. Bonnie Honig's rereading of it therefore involves intervening in a host of literatures and unsettling many of their governing assumptions. Exploring the power of Antigone in a variety of political, cultural, and theoretical settings, Honig identifies the 'Antigone-effect' - which moves those who enlist Antigone for their politics from activism into lamentation. She argues that Antigone's own lamentations can be seen not just as signs of dissidence but rather as markers of a rival world view with its own sovereignty and vitality. Honig argues that the play does not offer simply a model for resistance politics or 'equal dignity in death', but a more positive politics of counter-sovereignty and solidarity which emphasizes equality in life.
collapse into a lamentation of politics? But the ﬁlm also presses us beyond the questions of Chapter 2. As we shall see, one of the things in play between the two directors is a politics of genre that I have thus far only tentatively broached by way of references to sentimentalism and dramaturgy. In this chapter, genre comes to the fore: the ﬁlm’s master director Alexander Kluge emplots the events of the day as tragedy, while Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his own sequence melodramatizes them.
reader to attend to new genre cues and awakens us to the text anew. Prioritizing the guilt of fragile sovereigns, the place of plotters and their intrigues at court, looking for coded speech and whispered communications, staying alert to adianoeta, we are directed by the genre cues of Trauerspiel and melodrama to a new Antigone. In the chapters that follow, I will not argue that Sophocles’ play is a melodrama but I will suggest that if we approach it with some sensitivity to that lowculture
genre’s cues (as I have already begun to do here, brieﬂy, with Benjamin’s Trauerspiel traits and with Fassbinder’s Antigone still in mind as well), we will ﬁnd new texture and detail in Sophocles’ play and, most important, we will be empowered to reclaim it from rather than – as some will worry – cede it to the other side of melodrama: the sentimental weepie. The idea of rereading or re-emplotting Antigone (or any ancient tragedy) as melodrama may be greeted with some skepticism or resistance so
The stakes are clear: will Eurydice indulge in forbidden public, loud Homeric wailing or conﬁne herself to the private, less “unbecoming” household-centered grief that good polis judgment since Solon recommends? (In the Gibbons and Segal translation, the line reads: “She’s not without good judgment and won’t do wrong” [2003: 1335–1336].) The messenger is conﬁdent; the Chorus is not: “I’m not so sure. To me, at least, a long heavy silence promises danger, just as much as a lot of empty outcries”
anarchic, wild, transgressive ﬂouter of law.39 Romantic lovers of transgression may ﬁnd heroism in this, liberal and left readers may see here a preﬁguration of the dictates of conscience and integrity they admire, and others may disapprove of what they see as disrespect for authority and public order. But all share Creon’s perspective. Simon Goldhill is captured by it too when he notes how beholden are Antigone’s feminist readers to “the myth of the heroine [Antigone, which] is constructed with