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Antigone, Interrupted


  • Page extent: 340 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.49 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107668157)

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.

• A new reading of an ancient tragedy - one that has implications for philosophy and political theory since Hegel • Examines current common understandings of the role of mothers and other female survivors of loss, as well as identifying the cultural-political benefits and limits of invoking Antigone in the context of maternal politics • Proposes new stagings and gives dramaturgical guidance for those interested in performance and media, while also looking at the politics of genre in theatre and film


Preface; Introduction; Part I. Interruption: Introduction to Part I: 1. Tragedy, maternalism, ethics: toward an agonistic humanism; 2. 'Antigone versus Oedipus', I: feminist theory and the turn to Antigone; 3. 'Antigone versus Oedipus', II: the directors' agon in Germany in Autumn; Part II. Conspiracy: Introduction to Part II: 4. Mourning, membership, and the politics of exception: plotting Creon's conspiracy with democracy; 5. From lamentation to logos: Antigone's conspiracy with language; 6. Sacrifice, sorority, integrity: Antigone's conspiracy with Ismene; Conclusion.

Prize Winner

Shortlisted for the 2014 C. B. Macpherson Prize, Canadian Political Science Association


'Honig's sweeping consideration of how the 'Antigone' is read and misread offers us a new way to approach the pauses, the ellipses, and the frank interruptions that punctuate this classic text. We have all struggled so hard to make the words mean in this or that way that we have perhaps forgotten the more dramatic features of the text in which relationships rupture, words trail off, and events still language. This book offers a trenchant analysis of sovereignty, belonging, and freedom through a perspective at once dramatic, literary, and political. Honig's sustained engagement with contemporary criticism shows how important the figure and text of Antigone is for any effort to think about the risks and the necessity of contestatory democratic culture.' Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

'Bonnie Honig provides a stunning, capacious and intensely 'political' reanimation of the 'Antigone'.' Simon Critchley, The New School for Social Research

'Many books pride themselves on being 'provocative' - but this is the real thing! Engaged and engaging, sophisticated and polemical, Antigone, Interrupted interrupts the critical mainstream with real political urgency and edge.' Simon Goldhill, King's College, Cambridge

'Bonnie Honig's Antigone, Interrupted shows how central Sophocles' play is to recent and current philosophical, political, cultural, psychoanalytical and gender theory debates in Europe and the USA. The book is not primarily an analysis of these debates (though one learns a great deal about them along the way), but an attempt to make a striking intervention in them.' Craig Hannaway, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

'When a leading theorist of agonistic democracy writes a book on Antigone, it seems fitting to acknowledge the accomplishment by contesting its core claims. Bonnie Honig's Antigone, Interrupted, offers much to praise and is certainly a book worth reading, contesting, and interrupting for all interested in contemporary political theory. It demonstrates the ongoing significance and contestability of Antigone, for democratic theory, feminist theory, and political thought more generally.' Paul E. Kirkland, Review of Politics

'Antigone, Interrupted is a significant book. Like all of Honig's work, it is theoretically sophisticated, erudite, and engaging, furnishing both a trenchant critique of prior interpretations of Antigone and an original, provocative, and highly political revisioning of the play. In so doing, it asks significant questions not only about the political consequences and risks of privileging mortality and vulnerability as ontological facts of the human condition but also about the terms of democratic political engagement. It deserves to be widely read.' Moya Lloyd, Perspectives on Politics

'Honig's book [offers] a very useful critical map of current thinking while providing a reappraisal - and 'interruption' - of all Antigones that have gone before.' Morning Star

'One of the great virtues of Antigone, Interrupted (and there are many) is its systematic disruption of these, now conventional, conceptions or receptions of Antigone as an isolated, heroic figure of mourning and resistance. … Honig's readings of the text … are inventive, unexpected and, in some parts, nothing short of inspired.' Paul Muldoon, History of Political Thought

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