Burlesque or neoplatonic? Popular or elite?
The shifting value of classical mythology in Love’s Mistress
in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
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Through an analysis of Love's Mistress, this chapter addresses how cultural tastes and approaches to classical learning evolved in the first half of the seventeenth century, and highlights the influence of French fashions. It considers why Love's Mistress was so successful with its elite public, despite or perhaps because of its sturdy, potentially subversive comedy. The chapter first explores the elite/popular divide through a comparison with the vogue for burlesque in seventeenth-century France - the native country of Queen Henrietta Maria. Second, it argues that taking sides in the play's several controversies matters less than appreciating the situations of arbitration that Heywood consistently emphasises, making this a play not just about mythology, but about the critical apprehension of mythology and drama. Finally, the chapter addresses the generic complexity of Love's Mistress, including its relationship to Heywood's earlier Ages, contemporary pageants, and masques.

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