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‘The Moment of Revolution’: A Re-evaluation of Communism in David Edgar’s The Shape of the Table

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2012, 25(1), pp.189-212
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

KIM, YOO 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The social and political changes in Europe in the late 1980s were characterized by the widespread discrediting or abandonment of Marxism. The West was eager to claim credit for predicting that communism would never work, and Marxism was dismissed as irrelevant and even well and truly dead. History’s own demise was reported, in the form of ‘The End of History,’ by the American academic Francis Fukuyama. The whole chain of dramatic events in Eastern Europe contributed to creating the general angst of the left in Britain. The sense of contradiction and anxiety is captured and explored most vividly in David Edgar’s play, The Shape of the Table(1990). Modelled on the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ in Czechoslovakia, the play is focused on the very moment of revolution, a historical juncture of the great transition from communism to market socialism. It provides the audience with an acute insight into the increasingly complicated issues involving individual and national identity, socialism and the new order, the ideal and its practice, and the questions of political reality and language. In the play, the revolution is presented as a change of language, and the changed public discourse also functions as the source of social change. Focusing on the language of political negotiations, this paper explores how the play attempts to re-evaluate the values of communism, challenging the ideological dominance of neo-liberalism.

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