This book explores English tragedy in relation to France with a frank concentration on Shakespeare. Three manifestations of the 'Shakespearean tragic' are singled out: Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra and All's Well That Ends Well, a comedy with melancholic overtones whose French setting is shown to be richly significant. Hamlet has occasioned many books on its own, including a recent study by Margreta De Grazia, Hamlet without Hamlet, whose objective is to free the text from the 'Modern Hamlet'. The influence of Michel de Montaigne on Hamlet is usually assumed to have left its traces in more or less precise verbal or intellectual correspondences. The book proposes two further sources of French resonance accessible to auditors of the ultimate early modern English tragedy. It talks about two French Antonies. One is the steadfast friend of Caesar and avenging Triumvir, as heralded in Jacques Grévin's César and vividly evoked in Robert Garnier's Porcie. The other is the hedonist who ruins himself for Cleopatra, as first brought on stage in France by Étienne Jodelle in Cléopâtre captive, then substantially fleshed out in Garnier's own Marc Antoine. The distance between the tragedies and All's Well comes down to the difference between horizontal and vertical lifeless bodies. When he grafted the true-to-life histoire tragique of Hélène of Tournon onto the fairy-tale of Giletta of Narbonne, Shakespeare retained the latter's basic family situation. Shakespeare's Helena succeeds where the King has failed by exploiting her position as an outsider.
French ripples within and beyond the ‘Pembroke Circle’
ghostly form) by ÉtienneJodelle in
Cléopâtre captive (performed 1553), then
substantially fleshed out in Garnier’s own Marc Antoine
Even in his early treatment of the post-assassination
Antony, however (Porcie was his first published tragedy), Garnier
depicted a contrast between Antoine and Octave on the question of
vengeance – the great preoccupation of the
intervention may cause an apparently ‘self-sufficient’
textual cluster to signify in new ways, and that criticism may cross the
Channel productively in both directions. The crossings are smooth ones
in the case of the Roman-Egyptian plays of ÉtienneJodelle, Robert
Garnier and Nicolas de Montreux, juxtaposed with those of Samuel Daniel
and Shakespeare (with Mary Sidney Herbert’s translation of
Clarifications and responses
1 For an inventory of them, see Nicole Cazauran ‘Échos d’un massacre’, in Marguerite
Soulié and Robert Aulotte, eds, La Littérature de la Renaissance. Mélanges d’histoire
et de critique littéraire offerts à Henri Weber (Geneva, 1984), pp. 239–261.
2 Ibid., p. 243 for the quotation.
3 Advertissement du peuple de Paris aux passants, as quoted in ibid., pp. 246, 256.
Pierre de L’Estoile attributed it to ÉtienneJodelle.
4 Jean Touchard, Allegresse chrestienne de l’heureux succès des guerres de ce