By Keri Walsh
In 1936, Simone Weil defined Sophocles’s Antigoneto French manufacturing unit
workers as “the tale of a person who, on their own, with none backing, dares
to be towards her personal nation, to the legislation of that kingdom, to the pinnacle of
its executive, and who's, evidently, quickly positioned to death.” Weil’s insistence on
Antigone as a civilian protester, instead of Hegel’s version of female family
virtue, recurs all through writing of the fascist interval. From Virginia Woolf and
Louis MacNeice within the British Isles, to Marguerite Yourcenar and Jean Anouilh in
France, Antigone got here to include the courageous political resistance of the person.
By 1950, Hegel’s influential examining of the play as featuring rightful yet
irreconcilable claims appeared able to cave in: “as for Creon,” the Oxford
classicist Gilbert Murray informed a BBC radio viewers after the battle, “it used to be of
course preposterous of Hegel to signify that that he used to be as a lot within the correct as
Antigone and that our sympathies might be frivolously divided.” This partisan
reading of Antigonegrew in power within the post-war interval, inspiring feminist,
pacifist, and post-colonial engagements with the play.
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Additional info for Antigone in Modernism: Classicism, Feminism and Theatres of Protest
In his magisterial encyclopedia of Greek legend, The Greek Myths, Robert Graves challenges Sophocles’s version of events by leaving it out of his narrative of the Theban cycle entirely. , Lawrence, Freud, and Joyce, irreverence toward Victorian high seriousness tended to make Antigone appear shrill and moralizing. The modernist quest for sexual freedom made Sappho and Helen more appealing. M. Forsted imagined her in the guise of an Edwardian spinster. M. Forster’s New Antigone “The Road from Colonus” is part of Forster’s 1911 collection of stories, The Celestial Omnibus, a title which conveys the confrontation between the 14 The Antigone legend is described in Graves’s section, “The Seven Against Thebes” (which downplays the Sophoclean variant by choosing the name of Aeschylus’s play).
If Oedipus in this story has become a spoiled geriatric child, Antigone has become his over-protective, conventional, xenophobic daughter. These are not the kindred spirits of Oedipus at Colonus. When Ethel refuses her father’s request to stop for the night at the cottage, he disowns her, suggesting that “I do not want you. I don’t know why I ever consulted you. I shall stop here alone” (156). While Sophocles’s Antigone was ever eager to follow her father into the abyss, Forster’s becomes a secretary, threatening that by stopping at Colonus he will miss the boat to back to England, and hence “the London operas, and … all your engagements for the month” (156).
For Ethel, Mrs. Forman, the rest of the party, and, one senses, for the narrator as well, the word is something merely unpleasant and banal. Perhaps the cottage was filthy, or perhaps Ethel didn’t trust the hosts. But for Lucas, the unspoken essence of that cottage is something much more profound. Though Mr. Graham warns Lucas that “they might knife you” (156), Lucas looks with his vision clouded by his “fever for Hellenism” and sees something more mysterious than an inevitable mugging: “whenever Mr.
Antigone in Modernism: Classicism, Feminism and Theatres of Protest by Keri Walsh