‘Rossillion’ (bis) revisited
Five minutes to midnight and All’s Well
in French reflections in the Shakespearean tragic
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The distance between the tragedies and All's Well comes down to the difference between horizontal and vertical lifeless bodies. All's Well's presentation of the scions of great houses as inflamed with ardour for Italian glory echoes a recurrent motif in the military life of Blaise de Monluc. Monluc's nostalgic reminiscence, although less romantically extravagant than that of William Shakespeare's King, leads him likewise to affirm his own generation's superiority in the point of humility. It seems that Shakespeare's ideological purpose of 'deliberately foregrounding French history and suppressing its Catalan history' is subverted by Helena, who 'decisively demolishes' 'the construct of a French Roussillon'. The Cathars of the Midi remain elusive within Shakespeare's text. Indeed, this gesture at historicizing the first and original Roussillon tends to confirm that such an exercise offers limited footholds in itself and has limited potential for opening up the play as a whole.


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