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By Bonnie Honig

Sophocles' Antigone is a touchstone in democratic, feminist and criminal thought, and doubtless the main commented upon play within the historical past of philosophy and political conception. Bonnie Honig's rereading of it for this reason includes intervening in a bunch of literatures and unsettling a lot of their governing assumptions. Exploring the ability of Antigone in quite a few political, cultural, and theoretical settings, Honig identifies the 'Antigone-effect' – which strikes those that enlist Antigone for his or her politics from activism into lamentation. She argues that Antigone's personal lamentations will be noticeable not only as symptoms of dissidence yet quite as markers of a rival international view with its personal sovereignty and energy. Honig argues that the play doesn't supply easily a version for resistance politics or 'equal dignity in death', yet a extra confident politics of counter-sovereignty and unity which emphasizes equality in existence.

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James Tully2 Only tragedy can deal adequately with humanism on its high horse. Laurence Michel Humanism has in recent years been making a comeback; not the rationalist universalist variety discredited by post-structuralism and the horrific events of the twentieth century, but a newer variant. This humanism asserts that what is common to humans is not rationality but the ontological fact of mortality, not the capacity to reason but vulnerability to suffering. ”3 Finitude is said to soften us up for the call of the other, to open us up to the solicitations of ethics and to bypass the intractable divisions of politics.

It may be worth noting, further, that the larger context of tragedies like Antigone, which were after all performed at the feast of Dionysus and staged alongside comedies and satyr plays, may find or establish the balance between gastêr and thumos, hunger and heart, desire and lament, whose division by the fifth-century polis Sophocles’ Antigone invites us to explore. Antigone is almost always interpreted as death-identified, a willing martyr whose self-sacrifice evidences her orientation toward death.

In the film Germany in Autumn, made and set in 1970s West Germany, former Nazis are everywhere and the task for democratic activists and radicals is to find ways to disconnect from the past, not reconnect to it. 4 Seeking to relax the Oedipal binds of generational guilt transmission and male sibling rivalry, the film gestures at the end to sororal ties as an alternative and potentially promising kinship resource. This is a theme to which I find myself returned, again, in the third chapter of Part II: in Chapter 6, I reconsider Ismene’s role in the play and strive further to conjure an Antigone whose political import exceeds grief and combativeness.

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