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Affect theory and early modern texts face each other across a substantial divide. The period had a discourse on “the passions”; but passion was defined in cognitive terms, where affect is usually said to be like a vibration, an unconscious feeling, an intensity. This essay argues that there is an aspect of the discourse on passion that is hospitable to affect, and may even constitute the earliest trace of a theory of affect. It turns to rhetoric and poetics for an account of the communication of non-conceptual feeling. And it uses Gloucester’s line “I see it feelingly” in Lear to suggest that Shakespeare’s interest in the multiple resonances of “touch” or “feeling” represents an effort to think affectivity in ways not licensed by extant discourses on passion. Early modern drama is legible as an inventory of instances of affective transmission, conceptualized in ways that go beyond anything sayable in explicit theories of the passions.
David M. Bergeron reminds us that, for over 150 years, scholars and critics have known about a performance of Pericles at the Jacobean court in Whitehall on 20 May 1619. For the past fifty years some scholars have claimed that the Duke of Lennox arranged for or sponsored this performance. Bergeron uncovers the basis of this idea. He argues that to understand fully the 1619 event, scholars, editors, and critics need to return to the original source, found in a letter from Gerrard Herbert, dated 24 May, rather than depend, as most have, on a nineteenth-century transcription of the letter. He wants to know how scholars have reached their conclusion about Lennox’s involvement and determine its accuracy. His approach, therefore, underscores the fundamental point that scholars cannot rely on transcriptions or printed summaries of earlier manuscript or archival material without checking the primary material. Bergeron returns to the original Herbert letter and offers a transcription of the feast and performance of Pericles as recorded by Herbert four days after the event. He concludes that Bentley’s assertion, prompted in part by his reliance on Chambers, does not rest on solid evidence.
Chapter 8’s aim is to interrogate the relationship between the court spaces depicted onstage in Shakespeare’s plays and the mimetic undertones that those represented spaces call forth for audiences. Clifford’s chapter explores Shakespeare and Fletcher’s All is True. Whitehall’s 'old name' lingers in the play as a reminder of its previous owner’s disgrace and its current owner’s power. Like Jacobean Whitehall itself, the palace’s narrative history is embedded in its architectural presence. Taking York Place/Whitehall as its centerpiece, this chapter considers court spaces in All is True in relation to the play’s narrative structure, arguing that the play’s engagement with Tudor history is partially defined by the royal places it represents or describes onstage. This chapter unpacks the spatial points of reference available to an imagined court audience for the play. Clifford argues that the palatial commonplaces upon which it relies might have been more meaningful to a court audience than that of the public theatre, thus positioning it as a play imagined for a royal performance.
Martin Butler explores some intertextual relationships between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. Jonson’s reservations about Shakespeare’s late plays are well known. In the induction to Bartholomew Fair, Jonson alludes to the grotesque dances at the sheep-shearing in The Winter’s Tale and to the servant-monster Caliban and the 'strange shapes' in The Tempest’s banquet scene, the latter described by Sebastian, in vocabulary which Jonson pointedly echoes, as 'a living drollery'. All of these things 'make nature afraid': that is, they offend against 'nature', by which Jonson seems to mean 'verisimilitude'. This critique of the faults of Shakespeare’s late style is reinforced elsewhere by Jonson’s disparaging allusion to Pericles as a 'mouldy tale', his remarks about the false geography of The Winter’s Tale, and his prologue to the revised version of Every Man In His Humour. As the prologue concludes, 'you, that have so graced monsters, may like men'. If, by complaining about 'monsters', Jonson is referring to Shakespeare’s late plays, and to The Tempest in particular, then evidently, Butler shows, he felt that Shakespeare not only wanted art, he wanted nature too.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was probably not originally composed for a court wedding. Yet, as Janna Segal makes clear, it is very likely that the play was revised for performance at court, and, as such, the play emblematizes the power dynamics at work between the Elizabethan court and theatre companies. Critics concerned with the import of Midsummer’s 'rude mechanicals' (3.2.9) have generally left unattended the relationship between their theatrical practice and antitheatrical discourse. The play’s critical posture towards the antitheatricalist tracts’ characterization of the public theatre as an idle pastime, Segal explains, is first suggested by the presence of the 'mechanicals' (3.2.9) as a 'company' of players (1.2.1). Besides, the players’ recurring anxiety over the effects of their performance on the 'ladies' of Theseus’s court clearly invokes repeated warnings from John Northbrooke, Stephen Gosson, and John Rainoldes that women (especially) are vulnerable at the playhouses. So, more generally speaking, the actors-within-the-action satirically engage with the major criticisms of the public theatre voiced by eminent Puritans.
falls into two parts. The first section discusses the main elements of the touring repertoire. This consisted initially of popular melodramas such as The Manxman, Trilby and The Sign of the Cross. The Bandmann Opera Company, his most important company, provided facsimile versions of Edwardian musical comedies, most of which were drawn from the George Edwardes’ Gaiety Theatre, with whom Bandmann had an exclusive agreement. Another mainstay of his repertoire was variety theatre, which became increasingly important after 1914. Each genre was represented by its own company, each of which toured on an integrated rotation system. The second section discusses the heterogeneous publics on the Bandmann Circuit as a colonial public sphere. Bandmann’s publics included non-English-speaking audiences in Japan, parts of China and the Dutch East Indies, among other areas.
In the General Introduction, the editors of this collection explore court performance as a multimedia phenomenon. They address two crucial questions: how did early modern court shows shape dramatic writing, and what do they tell us of the aesthetics and politics of the Tudor and Stuart regimes? Chiari and Mucciolo remind the readers that Shakespeare himself was first and foremost a royal player – a status officially granted by James I. They also focus on the revision of plays for court as well as on the relationship between the commercial and court theatres. Royal patronage, they argue, ensured not only the best plays for the court revels, but also a viable commercial theatre. Finally, Chiari and Mucciolo underscore the fundamentally labile and hybrid nature of Tudor and Stuart drama which intertwined the textual and the visual on the one hand, the diplomatic and the aesthetic on the other. As they changed places, performances of early modern plays would acquire different meanings at different times in front of different audiences, and if they could become flattering spectacles, they were also likely to display a degree of impertinence which made them particularly appealing.
Murat Öğütcü focuses on Shakespeare’s Henry V (1599), a play which, with its charismatic male monarch, has been too often associated with or set against the late Elizabethan period. As a result, the significance of its performance at the Jacobean court in 1605 has been overlooked. Locating the play before the Jacobean court, Öğütcü compares the dramatised monarch and the real one, while reminding us that no other history play was performed at the court of James I, probably because it traces the ascendancy of a king rather than his decline. The performance of Henry V at the court was in fact more than a reminder of recent Jacobean victories. Yet, while the monarch tried to fashion himself as an Anglo-Scottish Henry V, some members of the audience possibly interpreted Prince Hal as James, who indulged in spending time with his favourites and leaving most of administration to his subjects. The Jacobean Henry V analysed by Öğütcü is thus a problematic performance of idealised masculinity meant to highlight the crucial issues of the time: dissimulation, treason, royal favouritism, war and peace, and a united Britain.
Chapter 6 challenges the orthodoxy that plays were essentially premiered on the public stages prior to their performance at court. Jason Lawrence focuses on the royal performances of Othello and Measure for Measure at Whitehall in late 1604, in an attempt to modify some critical statements about these plays. It is Lawrence’s contention that the court performances of both of these plays were effectively prepared as royal premieres for the king. The two new plays share a common source in Cinthio’s prose Hecatommitti, and Lawrence demonstrates how the significant alterations and additions made in each case engage directly with the interests of the new monarch, suggesting that Shakespeare was, at least partially, dramatising stories from his new-found Italian source with these royal performances in mind. Lawrence shows that, in each case, any prior performance might have been intended primarily as a rehearsal for the court appearance. The length of Othello in particular fits with Richard Dutton’s argument about the preparation of longer play texts specifically for Jacobean court performance, although, significantly, in this case it would be for a brand new rather than revised play.
This chapter introduces the central claim by grounding it in a range of contexts, beginning with the use of the word ‘Englishes’ by John Florio in 1598. The first section discusses the post-reformation struggle over the ‘property’ of ‘our English’ in the sense of defining character and ownership, a struggle conducted around practices in theatre and translation. The phrase ‘our English’ features only once in the Shakespearean canon, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, where it is set against ‘the King’s English’. This opposition finds echo in staged confrontations, notably around Shakespearean instances of the word ‘reformation’. These anticipate future cultural history and critical responses to Shakespearean practice, beginning with Ben Jonson whose alignment with cultural reformation ideology is highlighted. The exclusionary character of this ideology is pointed out and Shakespearean resistance to it in plays of the 1590s introduced. Specifically, the welcoming of (linguistic and human) strangers urged by Shakespeare is discussed in relation to his status as ‘Englishman forren’, while his inclusive vision of ‘our English’ is considered in relation to the present as well as the past.
The introduction offers an overview of the various destinies of King Lear on screen, providing a reflection on the filmic objects themselves but also, through a review of the state of the art, on the ways they have been received by academia. The introduction justifies the organization of the volume in four sections (Surviving Lear; Lear en Abyme; The Genres of Lear; Lear on the Loose), contextualizing the subsequent chapters and precisely pointing to their original contributions in the field. The concept of ‘dislocation’ is used to explore the ways in which the Lear films have worked on crisis, vagrancy, geographical displacement, migration (both in their following of the characters’ wanderings but also in their placing the play in other cultural environments) and on fragmentation (with dramatic motifs being dismantled and appropriated in ‘free’ adaptations). By revisiting ‘canonical’ versions, translations and free retellings in the Anglophone zones but also those beyond the US/UK axis, as well as ‘mirror’ metanarrative films, their genres and receptions through time, the introduction announces chapters that take part in the ceaseless investigation of what King Lear means and the way its ‘Learness’ continues to circulate and inform our contemporary cultures and especially to mirror the predicaments of today’s ‘unaccommodated’ men and women.
Learning how to use a printed scholarly edition of a literary work does not come naturally to digital natives. Chapter 3 dramatises the learning curve of coming to grips with scholarly editions of Hamlet, of appreciating the argument that each one mounts about the surviving textual and other materials, and of learning how to appreciate the internal architecture and cross-referencing of editions without hyperlinks.
Different modes of scholarly editing are described, especially the competing methodologies and limits of the necessarily non-definitive Anglo-American critical edition. It professes to present a reading text of the work; the German historical-critical edition represents the work in a more archival fashion.
A case-study of recent attempts to solve the editorial problem of Hamlet is offered via an analysis of the Arden 3, Norton 3 and New Oxford’s editorial rationales. Their common abandonment of belief in bibliographic analysis is questioned. Confusion about the nature of the work-concept as applied to Shakespearean drama is revealed as held in common.
The conclusion focuses on Sonnet 18 and compares its significance in Shakespeare in Love (the film) and Shakespeare in Love (the play). It argues that this Sonnet has transcended the sequence, and has come to signify the Sonnets as a whole. Whilst this can be a reactionary decision, which ignores the overt homoeroticism of the sequence, it can also be a means of making the Sonnets more accessible by offering multiple different appropriations, emphasising the polyvocality of the individual Sonnet.
The early nineteenth century sees a significant and self-conscious change in the status of the Sonnets. They become the object of serious biographical scrutiny, whilst individual lyrics (particularly Sonnets 64, 98 and 116) are championed by Romantic poets and critics, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats. In the Victorian period, the Sonnets become available in a huge range of texts, but their accessibility to young people, women and the working classes creates anxiety. Editors begin to create distance from a biographical interpretation, whilst anthologists carefully circumscribe the Sonnets that they recommend. That said, the question of who Shakespeare loved becomes a significant issue for major Victorian writers, including Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot. Whilst these writers focus on individual Sonnets, their work is inevitably judged in the context of the sequence, which was condemned for excessive passion and effeminacy, if not male-male desire explicitly by Henry Hallam. The chapter ends with Oscar Wilde and the ways in which not only his trial, but ‘The Portrait of Mr W. H.’, rendered the Sonnets notorious.
The mid to late seventeenth century is usually considered as representing an almost total lack of Sonnet appreciation, often blamed on John Benson’s 1640 volume, Poems, which disrupted the sequence, interwove it with lyrics from The Passionate Pilgrim, and joined Sonnets together into larger units. This chapter explores how the Sonnets thrived in Caroline manuscripts (particularly Sonnets 2 and 106), and the ways in which Benson tried to harness this elite status for Cavalier readers, and make amends for the Sonnets’ omission from the First Folio. The chapter re-examines the ways in which Sir John Suckling and John Milton read the Sonnets, and argues for their sustained Royalist associations.
This chapter discusses Chaucer’s reputation in the English Renaissance. This was marked by a fundamental ambivalence: while humanist scholars may have sought to reject earlier writing in favour of a return to antique models of cultural production, Chaucer remained the most substantial example of literary achievement in the vernacular before the sixteenth century. Medieval Chaucer thus represented everything that the newest tendencies of the age aspired towards. The chapter discusses the principal motifs that channelled praise of the Renaissance Chaucer (a living Chaucer, fatherhood); early editions of Chaucer’s collected works; and literary adaptations of Chaucer by the likes of Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare.
However well-regarded Chaucer’s works were during his lifetime, it was his immediate successors who fashioned him into the ‘father of English poetry’ they then bequeathed to the subsequent English literary tradition. In particular, the poets Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate not only represented Chaucer in this manner in their own, widely disseminated works, they were also instrumental in the broad dissemination of Chaucer’s works. Importantly, these activities were motivated not just by admiration but also by a politico-literary context in which Hoccleve and Lydgate, unlike Chaucer, were asked to produce works that spoke both for a prince and to a prince. Their invention of Chaucer’s literary authority cannot then be separated from their intervention into politics, and this conflation they also bequeathed to the English literary tradition, where it remained plainly visible in the works of their own successors, and where it persists, more obscurely, to the present.