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The Book of Esther in early modern biblical drama
Chanita Goodblatt

In her chapter, Chanita Goodblatt discusses English, German and Yiddish dramatisations of the Book of Esther. She focuses specifically on the performative dimensions of the Fool, enacted through two different dramaturgical strategies: in comic interludes; or inserted directly into the narrative. Goodblatt discusses the Fool as an exemplar of the Bakhtinian carnivalesque, enacted through parodic language and embodying (in the material and corporeal aspects of its performance) his ultimate authority as incisive commentator on monarchy, family, and religious tradition.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama

This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates, conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.

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Chanita Goodblatt and Eva von Contzen
in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama