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London, 18 August 1554

Philip and Mary’s entry into London on 18th August reflects the complexity of their reign. Organised by a group of aldermen, including Richard Grafton, Protestant printer of the Great Bible, and John Heywood, Catholic poet and dramatist, it registered the multivocal responses of a city having a plurality of faiths that cut across and were intertwined with commercial and political interests. An anecdote from John Foxe about London’s reception of their new king is shown to be part of a more ambivalent iconography that responded to commercial imperatives while flattering the king with an image in which the crown is delivered into his hands by a figure representing both Mary the queen and the queen of heaven.

in Mary and Philip

Historians have struggled to understand the co-monarchy of Mary and Philip and how it functioned in practice, too often attributing commonplace misogyny to agents all too aware of the competing axes of gender and power. Assumptions about Mary’s lack of concrete engagement in ruling have left the impression of the co-monarchy as a vacuum, where in fact she was engaged and assiduous, imposing her will in the face of opposition at times from councillors or her co-ruler. Having analysed the political success of their rule, the argument turns to the cultural exchanges and influences of the union, including the first Spanish-English language-teaching manual, portraits and other forms of image-making that projected their co-monarchy on the international stage.

in Mary and Philip

Wyatt’s revolt in 1554 crystallises the web of interconnected patriotic and religious motivations enveloping mid-Tudor subjects. Mary faced an outpouring of polemic as convinced evangelicals went into exile. The speed, topicality and volume of these publications presented new challenges to rulers across early modern Europe. The queen’s image was contested very publicly. Metaphors of her as the Virgin Mary or mother of the people were countered by biblical anti-heroines like Athalia and vitriolic images of sexual betrayal, with Philip and the Spanish cast as rapists. Despite the Act for the Queen’s Regal Power, passed after the revolt, assuring the property rights of holders both Catholic and Protestant of ex-monastic property, this link between property, sovereignty and gender haunted the reign.

in Mary and Philip
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This chapter brings three principal French intertexts (and some secondary ones) to bear on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It first argues that Dream evokes a recent play comically adapting Italianate pastoral conventions, La Diane, by Nicolas de Montreux (1594). The next key intertext explored is Le proumenoir (1594), by Marie de Gournay, which offers a feminist slant on the histoire tragique as exemplified by her source, the Champs faëz of Claude de Taillemont. Gournay’s novel presents love as tragic, particularly for women as victims of male inconstancy, as in the legend of Theseus and Ariadne. Gournay introduces this exemplum through the Epithalamium of Catullus, where it counterpoints celebration of a mythical marriage – an effect matching the intrusion of sombre overtones on Shakespeare’s representation of marriage as comic fulfilment. Finally foregrounded is the relation between the burlesque ‘tragedy’ of Pyramus and Thisbe staged by Shakespeare’s Mechanicals and an anonymous Moralité, which illuminates the Mechanicals’ absurd approach to theatrical challenges. Also considered is a poetic reworking of Ovid’s narrative by Antoine de Baïf, which anticipates Shakespeare’s embellishment of this material with humanist trappings. These intertexts highlight the parodic potential Shakespeare exploited in insinuating the fragility of generic boundaries.

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It

This chapter proposes that the three Shakespearean comedies set in France (Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well) depend for their effect on particular perceptions and forms of knowledge concerning France on the part of contemporary audiences. The focus is on the earlier two plays, since All’s Well has been considered elsewhere. Love’s Labour’s Lost introduces insistent political allusions (mainly through the names of the characters), which nevertheless resist all efforts to detach them from their romantic-comic frame. The consequence is an unresolvable tension between comic and tragic tendencies that is focused in the unconventional conclusion. As You Like It might be supposed to reject the realistic in favour of the romantic by way of its exotic ‘French’ pastoral source – Thomas Lodge’s novel Rosalynde – but Lodge actually presents his setting with an insistence on material realities. Conversely, even as he downplays Lodge’s French specificity in favour of recognisable elements of ‘Englishness’, Shakespeare attaches to the French setting and characters a dimension of romance resulting in a destabilising doubleness: Arden/Ardennes, Robin Hood/Rowland de Boys.

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night

This chapter treats three comedies dating from between 1596 (roughly) and 1604 as experiments in tragicomedy, broadly understood here as an uneasy juxtaposition of comic patterns fulfilled with an affirmation of tragic potential as encoded in the human condition and left suspended at the conclusions. The comic patterns are mainly of Italian origin, but certain tragically tending elements emerge more clearly through hitherto neglected French intertexts. One bearing especially on both Merchant and Measure is a Protestant allegorical morality by Henri de Barran, L’Homme justifié par Foy (1554), which dramatises the Reformation reading of Mankind as doomed by sinfulness according to the Old (Mosaic) Law and redeemable only by the New Law of Mercy. Mankind’s struggle is staged in terms especially evocative of the confrontation between Antonio and Shylock, but light is also shed on the fall, suffering and forgiveness of Angelo. The potentially tragic fate of the latter is also illuminated by the tragedy of Philanire, by Claude Roillet, whose French version presents particular intersections with Measure. Finally, it is argued that the tragicomic associations of Malvolio in Twelfth Night may have been enriched for audiences by knowledge of the contemporary life and writings of Pierre Victor Palma Cayet.

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
French inflections

This book discusses Shakespeare’s deployment of French material within genres whose dominant Italian models and affinities might seem to leave little scope for French ones. It proposes specific, and unsuspected, points of contact but also a broad tendency to draw on French intertexts, both dramatic and non-dramatic, to inflect comic forms in potentially tragic directions. The resulting tensions within the genre are evident from the earliest comedies to the latest tragicomedies (or ‘romances’). An introduction establishes the French inflection of Italian modes and models, beginning with The Taming of the Shrew, as a compositional paradigm and the basis for an intertextual critical approach. Next, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is related to three French intertexts highlighting, respectively, its use of pastoral dramatic convention, its colouration by the histoire tragique and its parodic dramatisation of the Pyramus and Thisbe story. The third chapter interrogates the ‘French’ settings found in the romantic comedies, while the fourth applies French intertexts to three middle-to-late comedies as experiments in tragicomedy. Finally, the distinctive form given tragicomedy (or ‘romance’) in Shakespeare’s late production is set against the evolution of tragicomedy in France and related to French intertexts that shed new light on the generic synthesis achieved—and the degree of bricolage employed in achieving it.

Making room for France

This introduction establishes the French inflection of Italian modes and models in Shakespearean comedy as a compositional paradigm and the basis for an intertextual critical approach. After discussion of the broad theoretical principles of such an approach, The Taming of the Shrew is set off against its anonymous analogue, The Taming of a Shrew, so as to throw into relief the latter’s incorporation, in the key passage presenting the heroine’s acceptance of her ‘taming’, of a translation from Guillaume Du Bartas’s La création du monde. The intertextual dynamic thereby set in motion is then applied to Shakespeare’s text, with attention to the different interpretative possibilities thereby made available, given the uncertain relation between the two plays with regard to chronology and authorship.

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
The view through French spectacles

This culminating chapter shifts the focus to Shakespeare’s late plays, notably the generically pivotal Pericles (almost certainly a collaboration with George Wilkins) and that supreme instance of Shakespearean tragicomic romance, The Winter’s Tale. The now-dominant critical view of Italian influence is qualified with reference to the diverse kinds and origins of tragicomedy in English, including those with French analogues and those mediated by French sources, notably French versions of the antique novel. The redaction of the Apollonius of Tyre story incorporated by François de Belleforest in his Histoires tragiques receives close attention as an intertext for both Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Its importance extends to recuperating from the antique romance tradition a notion of tragicomedy as being, in effect, tragédie à fin heureuse. Shakespeare’s use of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais in the translation of John Florio is also reviewed from this perspective – not merely the well-known passage from ‘Of the Caniballes’ adapted in The Tempest, but several textual traces from other essays, previously unnoticed, that arguably shed light on the movement in Shakespeare’s final plays (including Cymbeline and The Two Noble Kinsmen, a collaboration with John Fletcher) towards a generic synthesis mirroring an all-inclusive vision of human experience.

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
Hollywood, Christians and the American Culture Wars

Mel Gibson’s controversial biblical epic, The Passion of the Christ (2004), failed to secure funding from a major studio, but still managed to turn significant profits (over $83 million just on the opening weekend against a production budget of $30 million). So too have auterist projects such as Darren Aronfsky’s Noah (2014) and Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) continued this religious run on the box office, as did Kevin Reynolds’ Risen (2016). In contrast, Timur Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur (2016) bombed (as of early 2018, worldwide grosses have still yet to recoup a production budget of some $100 million). This chapter argues that there remains considerable life in the modern biblical epic, and that these films are generally most successful in bringing old stories to new audiences in the twenty-first-century cultural marketplace. But although such works enjoy a built-in Christian fan-base, this demographic alone is not enough to guarantee box office success. To turn a significant profit, the modern biblical epic also needs to court as much controversy as possible, and thereby capture the attention of the mainstream Hollywood audience, i.e. secular viewers at home and abroad.

in The Bible onscreen in the new millennium