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    ‘A monster shapeless’: equivocation and the treasonous imagination

    Wake, Paul (2011) ‘A monster shapeless’: equivocation and the treasonous imagination. Textual practice, 25 (5). pp. 941-960. ISSN 0950-236X (Unpublished)


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    Dealing with the immediate aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot (1605), this article investigates the competing claims to truth of both terrorist plots and those narratives they seek to displace. Through a reading of Henry Garnet's ‘A Treatise of Equivocation’ (1595), I argue that it is in this attempted displacement of the truth that equivocation reveals its terrorist potential. Accordingly, late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century discourses on equivocation are read here in relation to early-modern literary theory to figure equivocation as an irruption of the poetic within the language of law. In making this argument, Garnet's Treatise and the literary-theoretical work of Francis Bacon, George Puttenham and Philip Sidney are read alongside the work of J. L. Austin, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Immanuel Kant and Jean-François Lyotard in order to pursue a reading of lying, literature and metaphor that locates the challenge to authority posed by equivocation in its evocation of the performative aspect of truth-telling.

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