The Earl of Essex, Sir Philip Sidney and surviving Elizabeth’s court
As the title of Paul E. J.
Hammer’s landmark book indicates, the political career of Robert
Devereux, second Earl of Essex is associated with the polarisation of
Elizabethan politics towards the end of the sixteenth century. 1 And, although, as Hammer notes,
the traditional image of Essex, as ‘the ill-fated favourite of
Elizabeth’, who ‘lost his head, both metaphorically and
For the last three decades or so, literary studies, especially those dealing with premodern texts, have been dominated by the New Historicist paradigm. This book is a collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. The book argues that by emphasizing Troilus's and Cressida's hopes and fears, Shakespeare sets in motion a triangle of narrative, emotion and temporality. It is a spectacle of which tells something about the play but also about the relation between anticipatory emotion and temporality. The sense of multiple literary futures is shaped by Shakespeare's Chaucer, and in particular by Troilus and Criseyde. The book argues that the play's attempted violence upon a prototypical form of historical time is in part an attack on the literary narratives. Criseyde's beauty is described many times. The characters' predilection for sententiousness unfolds gradually. Through Criseyde, Chaucer's Poet displaces authorial humility as arrogance. The Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual frustration. The poem appears to be linking an awareness of history and its continuing influence and impact on the present to hermeneutical acts conspicuously gendered female. The main late medieval Troy tradition does two things: it represents ferocious military combat, and also practises ferocious literary combat against other, competing traditions of Troy.
This collection of essays offers a major reassessment of the meaning and significance of emotional experience in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Recent scholarship on early modern emotion has relied on a medical-historical approach, resulting in a picture of emotional experience that stresses the dominance of the material, humoral body. The Renaissance of Emotion seeks to redress this balance by examining the ways in which early modern texts explore emotional experience from perspectives other than humoral medicine. The chapters in the book seek to demonstrate how open, creative and agency-ridden the experience and interpretation of emotion could be. Taken individually, the chapters offer much-needed investigations into previously overlooked areas of emotional experience and signification; taken together, they offer a thorough re-evaluation of the cultural priorities and phenomenological principles that shaped the understanding of the emotive self in the early modern period. The Renaissance of Emotion will be of particular interest to students and scholars of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, the history of emotion, theatre and cultural history, and the history of ideas.
Coriolanus resonated for a Jacobean London audience through performance, assuming it actually was performed in the early seventeenth century. This book focuses on the postwar-productions of the Shakespeare's play. It deals with the Laurence Olivier's 1959 version at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, the reconfiguration of Bertolt Brecht in the 1960s and early 1970s, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's staging of the play in 1972. Alan Howard won the 1978 London Theatre critics award for Best Actor, starred in successful Coriolanus remounts at Nottingham and London in 1978. The 1984-85 National Theatre's Coriolanus reveals the Shakespeare-plus-relevance ideology under strain from the factious political climate, and Peter Hall's outburst in 1985 was the result of years of stagnant arts funding from Margaret Thatcher's government. The book discusses goulash communism that characterized the mid-1980s Hungary and the staging of Coriolanus in Budapest by Gabor Szekely, and the 1988 theatrically radical presentation at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Coriolan embodies the competing influences that help define Robert Lepage's Shakespeare production, which overlapped the highly charged political events in Canada when Quebec voters turned down a proposal to negotiate sovereignty from the country. The new Globe theatre's Coriolanus in May 2006 was the inaugural production under the theatre's new artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole. This Coriolanus appeared to be designed to fulfil a set of expectations related to a certain image of Globe performance. Ralph Fiennes's film in 2011-12 made Coriolanus a failed action hero in denying him unambiguously heroic status.
This book sets the scene for the reinterpretations and explorations of the ways William Shakespeare and his contemporaries worked mythological material on their looms. In Ovid, each text leaves a trace in the others, introducing an enriching leaven that expands the text. Reading Holinshed's efforts to place Samothes or Brutus on England's family tree, one feels sorry for those chroniclers who had to reconcile a variety of founding tales and defend mutable causes. Founding myths need a renowned ancestor; warlike feats; identification with a territory, continuity, purity of blood; and someone to tell the story: fame must be recorded by pen if it is to survive marble monuments. The book discusses the Trojan matter of King John, which powerfully structures and textures the scenes of the siege of Angiers and, more specifically, the tragic fates of Constance and Arthur. It also considers some metamorphoses of Shakespeare and Ovid. The book reiterates imaginative association, influence, historically diachronic descent study, as evidenced in that kind of critical work that finds in a keyword an attractive pretext for projecting an author's particular interest or, a critic's. Yves Peyré's work opens perspectives on post-Shakespeare reworkings and Shakespearian myths that were also explored during the ESRA conference and inspired a separate collection of essays, Mythologising Shakespeare: A European Perspective.
This book examines life in the leading province of Elizabeth I's nascent empire. It shows how an Ireland of colonising English farmers and displaced Irish ‘savages’ were ruled by an imported Protestant elite from their fortified manors and medieval castles. The book displays how a generation of English ‘adventurers’ including such influential intellectual and political figures as Spenser and Ralegh, tried to create a new kind of England, one that gave full opportunity to their Renaissance tastes and ambitions. Based on decades of research, it details how archaeology had revealed the traces of a short-lived, but significant, culture that has, until now, been eclipsed in ideological conflicts between Tudor queens, Hapsburg hegemony and native Irish traditions.
Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights could confidently expect
audiences to read ‘Thebes’ as a signifier of a
forthcoming political allegory on usurpation, tyranny and heroic
While Sidney’s work on Arcadia is
compressed between 1577 and 1584, Shakespeare’s response to
European erotic romance manifests itself over roughly twenty-five
not the be-all and end-all of literary production. Historically
speaking, it is a function that is engaged or galvanized when it
serves larger social and political purposes and is left unmarked
when it obstructs those purposes. 12 My present interests lie in the
innovations that these commonplace books make in the politics of
reading in the late Elizabethan period.
This collection of essays explores tragedy, the most versatile of Renaissance literary genres, revealing its astonishing thematic, stylistic and emotional range. Each chapter consists of a case study, offering not only a definition of a particular kind of Renaissance tragedy but also new research into an important example of that genre. There is only one chapter on Shakespeare; instead contributors attend to subgenres of tragedy – biblical tragedy and closet drama, for example – in which Shakespeare did not engage and others in which the nature of his influence is interrogated, producing original critical readings of individual plays which show how interventions in these subgenres can be mapped onto debates surrounding numerous important issues, including national identity, the nature of divine authority, early modern youth culture, gender and ethics, as well as questions relating to sovereignty and political intervention. The chapters also highlight the rich range of styles adopted by the early modern tragic dramatists and show how opportunely the genre as a whole is positioned for speaking truth to power. Collectively, these essays reassess the various sub-genres of Renaissance tragedy in ways which respond to the radical changes that have affected the critical landscape over the last few decades.
The Art of The Faerie Queene is the first book centrally focused on the forms and poetic techniques employed by Spenser. Though much scholarly attention in recent years has been on the relationships between Spenser’s poetry and political and colonial history, the place of his epic in literary history has received less attention. This book aims to rectify that by re-reading The Faerie Queene as poetry which is at once absorbing, demanding, and experimental. The Spenser explored here ingeniously uses the tricks of his poetic style to amplify his symbolic agendas and to deepen the reading experience. One of the book’s particular originalities is the way in which it reframes Spenser’s place in literary history. As opposed to the stylistic conservatism diagnosed by previous generations of scholars, The Art of The Faerie Queene presents the poem as more radical, more edgy, and less conventional, particularly as it appeared to Spenser’s first readers. As such, the book proposes new ways of understanding the Elizabethan poetic Renaissance and the ways in which Spenser is best understood in terms of literary history. The book progresses from the choice of individual words through to questions of metre, rhyme, and stanza form up to the larger structures of canto, book, and the incomplete yet massive poem itself. It will be of particular relevance to undergraduates studying Elizabethan poetry, graduate students, and scholars of Renaissance poetry, for whom the formal aspect of the poetry has been a topic of growing relevance.