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Hamlet or Hecuba, Sovereignty, and Representation

Timothy Wong’s “Steward of the Dying Voice: The Intrusion of Horatio into Sovereignty and Representation” appears in Telos 153 (Winter 2010). Read the full version at TELOS Online website.

This article examines the issue of early modern sovereign succession and political representation through the figure of Horatio. Using Carl Schmitt’s comments on the “dying voice” in the first appendix of Hamlet or Hecuba, and his theory of political representation, this essay argues that Horatio represents the transitional space between the fading vestiges of political theology, and the first traces constituent sovereignty. In his role as mediator of the sovereign word of King Hamlet and the dying voice of Prince Hamlet, Horatio becomes the proto-constituent subject who signals the genesis of a reoriented political agency that is constituted by popular consent rather than authoritarian rule. Furthermore, Horatio is the paradoxical representative that both represents the body politic (in the sense of the King’s two bodies) to the people and the popular will to itself.

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