Sovereign Ambiguity - From Hamlet to Benjamin via Eliot and Schmitt

25 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2008 Last revised: 28 Oct 2009

See all articles by P. G. Monateri

P. G. Monateri

SciencesPo, Ecole de Droit; University of Turin - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 21, 2009


The Author examines how Romantic Ambiguity lies at the heart of the legal notion of Sovereignty, applying a law and literature approach to notions developed by Benjamin and Carl Schmitt. Moving from a sophisticated analysis of literary texts, the inquiry intends to unveil the subtle strategies that lay behind the construction of Modernity and of its representational canon. The research perspective intentionally discloses the inherent dialectic between aesthetics and law. On this ground this paper rethinks the theory of the 'state of exception' as a pivotal concept for a deep understanding of Law and Politics (and their proper untraced boundaries), offering an alternative interpretation with respect to Giorgio Agamben's thought. The Author's lecture comes to rewrite even the centrality of representation as a fundamental notion both in literary and in political terms.

Keywords: Law, Literature, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romanticism, Sovereignity, Politics, State, State of exception, representation, Schmitt, Benjamin, Eliot, Agamben

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Monateri, Pier Giuseppe, Sovereign Ambiguity - From Hamlet to Benjamin via Eliot and Schmitt (January 21, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Pier Giuseppe Monateri (Contact Author)

SciencesPo, Ecole de Droit ( email )

13, Rue de l'Université


University of Turin - Faculty of Law ( email )

Via S. Ottavio 20
Torino, 10121
+39 11 59 14 12 (Phone)

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