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.
received its fullest enunciation belatedly, in Robert Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi . Allen G. Debus (ed.), Robert Fludd and His Philosophicall Key: Being a Transcription of the Manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge (New York: Science History Publications, 1979).
22 MargretadeGrazia, ‘Fin-de-Siècle Renaissance England’, in Elaine Scarry (ed.), Fins de Siècle: English Poetry in 1590, 1690, 1790, 1890, 1990 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 37–63, shows that historical periodization by century (which in the 1590s could
None of this bears on the more basic question, the
first question students ask, of why Hamlet is not king to begin
with. Why did he not he succeed his father? In a provocative recent
reading of the play, MargretadeGrazia makes this the missing key:
he has been disinherited, in violation of every expectation. This,
not his father’s death and his mother’s o’er-hasty
temporal complexities of cultural production and subject formation. So while the methodology of this book is defined by
historicist readings of the texts with which I work, this book is also
a study of untimeliness, an investigation of cultural productions
bereft of their original context.
The line drawn between the Middle Ages and modernity carries
great cultural significance. For some critics it marks the birth of the
individual,2 for others the birth of the nation,3 for some the beginning of historical consciousness.4 As MargretadeGrazia writes,
there is an
research in Shakespeare criticism. For example, MargretadeGrazia’s Shakespeare Verbatim and Andrew Murphy’s Shakespeare in Print both make a persuasive case for the impact of late eighteenth-century Shakespeare editions on the development of both Shakespeare criticism and the perception of Shakespeare as an author figure. While a lot of emphasis has of course been placed on the impact of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century editions, the idea of ‘Shakespeare’ conveyed by early modern editions has also become the subject of investigation. This is reflected in new
Spenser’s Busirane and Donne’s ‘A Valediction of my name, in the window’
inscription with a philosophy of the senses and the passions. MargretadeGrazia’s brilliant essay on the philosophical and gendered implication of early modern ‘imprinting’ shows how metaphors of imprinting – from the wax stamped with a signet to moveable type – figured the operations of the mind and sexual reproduction. The two aspects were complexly intertwined, with the metaphorics of generation or cognition materializing and mechanizing textual reproduction. 26 We can witness a cognate process in the incision of graphic characters, which inscribe marks with a
, art and in particular literature have often been best
described as revealing and being powerful ways in which we make sense of
the world. But that does not separate them from that world. As MargretadeGrazia notes: ‘language is a material medium to be experienced
like the rest of the material world through the senses’. 16 Reading must, then, as
she puts it, look at rather than see through early modern
Stephen Orgel, ‘Gendering the
Crown’, in Subject and Object in Renaissance
Culture , edited by MargretadeGrazia, Maureen
Quilligan, and Peter Stallybrass (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996), pp. 133–165, p. 155.
See Strong, Portraits of Queen Elizabeth
Katherine Sutton’s Experiences (1663), the printer’s device and the making of devotion
Helen Smith and Louise Wilson, ‘Introduction’, in Smith and Wilson, Renaissance Paratexts , pp. 1 – 14 (7).
Razzall, ‘“Like to a title leafe”’, paragraph 5; MargretadeGrazia and Peter Stallybrass, ‘The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text’, Shakespeare Quarterly 44.3 (1993), 255 – 83 (280
’s lameness from sonnets 37 and 89. See for
instance MargretadeGrazia, Shakespeare Verbatim: The
Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 156.
Schoenbaum, Shakespeare’s Lives ,