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.
This chapter examines two plays, King Lear and All's Well that Ends Well, in relation to García Márquez's Sonnet 106. It first looks at archival anachrony in Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold and studies some of the novel's chapters. Finally, it identifies the characters who are anachronistic in King Lear and the chronicle of a foretold death in All's Well that Ends Well.
This chapter suggests that one should read the pilgrimage-minded Helena of All's Well That Ends Well in the light of two holy women, St Helena of Britain and Mary Magdalene. Despite the official marginalisation of Catholicism, there were many cultural uses made of Mary Magdalene in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The story of St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine and supposed finder of the True Cross, was well known in Britain. In Lewis Wager's The Life and Repentaunce of Mary Magdalene, Mary Magdalene, like Helena, is first introduced with reference to her late father. In most dramatic versions of her story, Mary Magdalene was the sister of Lazarus, like Helena, was also associated with narratives of death and miraculous or quasi-miraculous recovery. Antonina Harbus explains that St Helena was sometimes mentioned in the same breath as the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book extends the approach developed in French Origins of English Tragedy through a series of more sustained explorations centred on three plays of William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra and All's Well That Ends Well. The basic difficulty is the overwhelming dominance of Plutarch's Life of Antony as the source of Shakespeare's play and all the significant prior dramatic 'sources' and 'analogues', as diligently assembled by Geoffrey Bullough, from G. B. Geraldi Cinthio's Cleopatra to Samuel Daniel's. A series of discussions of All's Well, a play that pushes broadly in the direction of French knowledge, illustrates the staying power of the idea of Shakespeare's rudimentary competence. By means of its generic disclaimers, All's Well may purport to reassure an audience, freeing it from, amongst other burdens, that of political engagement.
, as when Alexander Leggatt writes that All's WellThatEndsWell brings ‘two kinds of dramatic convention together, not in harmony (as in some of the earlier comedies), but in a positive and deliberate conflict’. However, the ‘modes’ discussed by Leggatt are not genres, but ‘romance’ and ‘realism’.
Thus, like such influential precursors as E.M.W. Tillyard, Leggatt sees the play as relating the ‘fabulous’ to the ‘realistic’.
A variant on this theme is
’, Kyd's protagonist realizes a close link between the artistic manifestation of vengeance and emotional satisfaction; this attachment gives rise to a particular type of justice, not adequately captured by the conventional language of retributive justice, which may be called ‘aesthetic’.
Finally, in ‘ All's WellthatEndsWell ? Happiness, ambivalence, and story genre’, Patrick Colm Hogan investigates the narrative and generic workings of ambivalence in Shakespeare's so-called ‘problem comedies’: works infamous for containing sequences of both comic
through subversion rather than assertion.
Freedom Bridge ( necessarygames.com , 2012), for instance, communicates a sense of oppression and frustration associated with being unable to cross the actual Freedom Bridge (in Imjingak, South Korea) through denying expected game player “freedoms” in the game. All's WellThatEndsWell ( pippinbar.com , 2011) offers a similarly ironic message concerning game player expectations, hopes, and desires: All are equally dashed.
And, significantly, when the game form conforms too closely to conventional
collective merriment of the play produces a kind of shared solidarity. Patrick Colm Hogan likewise explores the unstable blend of mirth and melancholy in one of Shakespeare's problem comedies, All's WellThatEndsWell . Hogan demonstrates the complexity, vulnerability, and ambivalence invariably embedded in the feelings of attachment that comedies demand.
Cassie M. Miura's superb essay also centers on an unstable but productive mix of mirth and melancholy. Miura's subject, though, is not Shakespearean problem comedy but rather Robert
Taking the measure of Antony and Cleopatra, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1972, 1978, 1982
Carol Chillington Rutter
Irving Wardle wrote in The
Times , 15 October 1982), it was no doubt a decision his Cleopatra fully supported. Helen Mirren had arrived at the RSC in 1967, aged twenty-two, via the National Youth Theatre, to be directed by Trevor Nunn in The Revenger's Tragedy as Castiza opposite Alan Howard's Lussurioso and by John Barton in All's WellthatEndsWell as Diana, two ‘chaste maids’ that belied Mirren's growing reputation (in a fashion era when two-dimensional Twiggy reigned supreme in a body that was the antithesis of Mirren's delicious