Nursing serpents
French ripples within and beyond the ‘Pembroke Circle’
in French reflections in the Shakespearean tragic
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Étienne Jodelle dares to show kings descending to the level of clowns in a flagrantly indecorous manner for a sound French Humanist. The essence of the author's argument is that the English plays of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Samuel Daniel and William Shakespeare are far from standing above or outside the Jodelle's dynamic. The theatrical image put into play by Jodelle becomes indispensable to Shakespeare's version, where the power mimetically to renew Cleopatra's humiliation would appropriate her 'infinite variety' as a reflection of Caesar's immortality. Apart from North's translation of Amyot's Plutarch, Antony and Cleopatra had re-entered the English discursive field by way of Herbert, whose translation of Robert Garnier's Marc Antoine was first published in 1592. The sense that Shakespeare reaches within and behind the text of Jodelle is sustained by Antony's ghost, who is as relentlessly moralistic and vengeful as he is garrulous.

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