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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2023
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:
Creative Commons:
Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC 4.0

Book description

Kilian Schindler examines how playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe represented religious dissimulation on stage and argues that debates about the legitimacy of dissembling one's faith were closely bound up with early modern conceptions of theatricality. Considering both Catholic and Protestant perspectives on religious dissimulation in the absence of full toleration, Schindler demonstrates its ubiquity and urgency in early modern culture. By reconstructing the ideological undercurrents that inform both religious dissimulation and theatricality as a form of dissimulation, this book makes a case for the centrality of dissimulation in the religious politics of early modern drama. Lucid and original, this study is an important contribution to the understanding of early modern religious and literary culture. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘We all know that many had an anti-theatrical prejudice in Renaissance England. Kilian Schindler's learned and persuasive new book argues that we have been thinking about the issue in the wrong way. Hostility to the theatre was centred on drama's shape-shifting nature, the ways in which plays represented people in disguise and, by implication, able to evade the authorities. Accordingly, anxiety about the theatre was centred on questions of what could be tolerated, what had to be revealed and how honest ordinary citizens should be in times of religious persecution. Was outward conformity enough? Or should there be a window into the hearts of men and women? As enjoyable to read as it is challenging, Religious Dissimulation and Early Modern Drama is a thought-provoking work that has much to teach us about Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe and other early modern dramatists, and the conditions under which English commercial theatre was established.'

Andrew Hadfield - University of Sussex

‘Dissembling, hypocrisy, equivocation: these are some of the fears that arose from the Reformation. The local politics surrounding issues of religious conformity produced a general anxiety that outward appearances could not be trusted. People might not be what they seem or say what they believed. Despite the cultural centrality of religious dissimulation, there has not been a sustained study of this topic until now. Kilian Schindler's book deftly takes us into the nuances and complexities of attitudes towards dissimulation. With learned depth, stylistic clarity, and fresh readings of familiar plays, Schindler masterfully explores the intersection of dissimulation and theatrical performance in early modern England.'

Kristen Poole - University of Delaware

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Full book PDF
  • Religious Dissimulation and Early Modern Drama
    pp i-ii
  • Religious Dissimulation and Early Modern Drama - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • The Limits of Toleration
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Dedication
    pp v-vi
  • Contents
    pp vii-vii
  • Acknowledgements
    pp viii-viii
  • Note on Dates and Texts
    pp ix-ix
  • Abbreviations
    pp x-xii
  • Introduction
    pp 1-26
  • Chapter 1 - Religious Dissimulation and Toleration in Early Modern England
    pp 27-47
  • Chapter 2 - From Oldcastle to Falstaff
    pp 48-73
  • The Politics of Martyrdom and Conformity in 1 and 2 Henry IV
  • Chapter 3 - Falstaff Revisited
    pp 74-96
  • Puritan Nonconformity and Loyal Dissent in 1 Sir John Oldcastle
  • Chapter 4 - Silence Denied
    pp 97-127
  • Sir Thomas More and the Incrimination of Inward Dissent
  • Conclusion
    pp 226-237
  • References
    pp 238-268
  • Index
    pp 269-274


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