This study analyses concepts and representations of the soul in the poetry of William Shakespeare and John Donne. During the early modern period, the soul is often presented as an actor on the stage of the poem, and the soul often becomes a stage by itself when conflicts within it are being enacted, in the tradition of psychomachia. The soul thus becomes a linking element between the genres of poetry and drama; at the same time, poetry becomes dramatic whenever the soul is at its focus. This double movement can be observed in the poems by Shakespeare and Donne that are concerned with the fate of the soul and represent inner states and processes: in The Rape of Lucrece the inner drama of the soul is being enacted; the Holy Sonnets are soliloquies by and about the soul. Here, the connection between interiority and performance, psychology and religious self-care can be found which is central to the understanding of early modern drama and its characteristic development of the soliloquy. The study thus offers a new reading of the poems by Shakespeare and Donne by analysing them, in different ways, as staged dialogues within the soul. It furthermore contributes to research on the soliloquy as much as on concepts of inwardness during the early modern period; it shows how the reflection on the soul and religious care for salvation develops in interaction with inwardness and theatrical exposure. It is aimed at readers interested in early modern literature and culture.
This book examines laughter in the Shakespearean theatre, in the context of a cultural history of early modern laughter, and looks at various strands of the early modern discourse on laughter, ranging from medical treatises and courtesy manuals to Puritan tracts and jestbook literature. It argues that few cultural phenomena have undergone as radical a change in meaning as laughter, a paradigm shift that can be traced back to the early modern period, which saw some remarkable changes in the culture of laughter. Hitherto, laughter had been mainly regarded as a social corrective that mocked those who transgressed societal norms. The evolving cult of courtly manners that spread throughout Renaissance Europe stigmatised derisive laughter as a sign of vulgarity. Laughter became bound up with questions of taste and class identity. At the same time, humanist thinkers revalorised the status of recreation and pleasure. These developments left their trace on the early modern theatre, where laughter was retailed as a commodity in an emerging entertainment industry. William Shakespeare's plays both reflect and shape these changes, particularly in his adaptation of the Erasmian wise fool as a stage figure and in the sceptical strain of thought that is encapsulated in the laughter evoked in the plays.
This book is a study of theatre and sovereignty that situates William Shakespeare's plays in the contraflow between two absolutisms of early modern England: the aesthetic and the political. It is a book about art and power on Shakespeare's stage, and argues that his plays are systematically engaged in untying freedom from royalty by dismantling sovereignty in all its forms. The book tracks the pre-Kantian nucleus of willed nonentity or interested disinterestedness in Shakespeare's own recorded words. The passive aggression of the creaturely voice that answers power back with the delinquent alterity of such a bad echo is found to be embodied in Shakespeare's dependent relations with his own Tudor overlords. In Julius Caesar, cries of 'peace, freedom, and liberty!' reverberate within the monumental irony of the Globe playhouse's imitation imperial design. The book views Hamlet as the great refusal of the absolutist system symbolized by certain triumphal facades. It considers King Lear as a staging of the challenge to speak freely by command which confronted the dramatist when the players were, after all, co-opted to proclaim the Stuart monarch's 'Free and Absolute' power. Shakespeare's obsession with doubleness arises in Macbeth from the play's barbaric circumstances. The book also argues that Antony and Cleopatra be viewed as an equivocation before the regime of absolutism, and a tactical surrender to the perspective technology focused on the sovereign only in order to subvert it.
Whether the apocalyptic storm of King Lear or the fleeting thunder imagery of Hamlet, the shipwrecks of the comedies or the thunderbolt of Pericles, there is an instance of storm in every one of William Shakespeare's plays. This is the first comprehensive study of Shakespeare's storms. Shakespeare was remarkably fond of storms, not only in the stage effects he so often calls for, but in the metaphors and similes he gives to his characters. Shakespeare's storms can be read alongside a wide range of storms written by his contemporaries. Several of these other playwrights engage with audience expectations just as Shakespeare does, and utilise them for aesthetic effect. This book argues that Shakespeare's investment in storm in Julius Caesar is a canny, financial one, for Shakespeare seriously considered the impact of the special effects of thunder and lightning when writing staged storms. King Lear speaks to ecocritical ideas about wilderness and shows that the play's representation of nature has been misunderstood. Macbeth details the way in which early modern anxieties about the supernatural allow for, or prompt, a play with discrete weather systems. The book shows that its 'lasting storm' is a performance aesthetic that bridges the divisions and allows us to think more carefully about them. The Tempest highlights the dramatic quality of its presentation of nature. Storms are an important metaphorical figure throughout Shakespeare's plays. They also show Shakespeare testing the limits of theatre and audience before those limits are established.
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 explores, from a variety of critical perspectives, the playwright's place in Scotland and the place of Scotland in his work. The influence of Scotland on William Shakespeare's writing, and later on his reception, is set alongside the dramatic effects that Shakespeare's work had on the development of Scottish literature. The Shakespeare's work of Scottish literature stretches from the Globe to globalisation, and from Captain Jamy and King James to radical productions at the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Shakespeare have strong Scottish connections by virtue of his theatre company's being brought under the sponsorship of the Scottish king James VI immediately after his accession to the English throne in 1603. Jonathan Goldberg and Alvin Kernan have traced the impact of royal patronage on Shakespeare's work after the Union, finding Scottish themes at play not just in Macbeth, but also in Cymbeline, King Lear, Hamlet, and in other plays. Then, the book outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. Shakespeare wrote his English plays in Elizabeth's reign and his British plays after 1603, though Henry V, first performed in 1599, might be regarded as a proto-British play. Unlike Henry V, Shakespeare's most English play, where national identity is of the essence, in Macbeth, Scotland is a blot on the landscape. Shakespeare's political drama moves from a sense of England and Scotland as independent kingdoms into an alignment with the views of Unionist King James.
In the Renaissance, the archetype for history was the classical muse Clio, a much-painted figure in an era when the 'history painting' was one of the predominant genres in European visual art. One Renaissance dramatist and poet who never made reference to Clio was William Shakespeare. This book is about official and unofficial versions of the past, histories and counter-histories, in Shakespeare's works and their subsequent appropriations. It builds on a long period in which those of us working in literary and theatre studies have developed an awareness of the extent to which conventional recreations of the past are mediated through the fictionalising structures of narrative. The book explores how the history plays construct counter-historical representations of the dead. It argues that the 'dislocutionary' threat of grief and the performance of the suffering body is a version of the kind of spectator/spectre relationship drawn in any ritualised encounter with the cult of the ancestor. The book combines four historicist readings which explore counter-histories in the early modern period. It examines the relationship between Shakespeare's history plays and alternative dynastic histories. The book also explores questions of history and identity, particularly as they can be configured through performance. It challenges the view that women become progressively marginalised across the histories by arguing that Shakespeare's warlike women enact a power onstage which forces us to rethink official, patriarchal history.
This book recognises the importance of the playwright and The Spanish Tragedy for the development of early modern theatre and beyond. It aims to familiarise readers with the play which, literally, set the stage for the Elizabethan revenge tragedy boom. The book revisits theories of revenge, and examines the play's latest editions, stage productions and screenplay adaptations. It takes the reader on a rewarding journey from Kyd's Proserpine to William Shakespeare's Prospero and brings personal editorial accounts on what it means to edit The Spanish Tragedy in the third millennium. The book argues that the lasting position of The Spanish Tragedy in the Low Countries is of interest from a politico-religious perspective. It advocates a shift in the critical approaches to The Spanish Tragedy, away 'from debating whether the play reflects Habsburg Spain or Renaissance Italy to considering how it portrays Mediterranean culture in relation to early modern England and its desire to play a role in the European colonial expansion'. The book further argues that The Spanish Tragedy, which has been regarded primarily as a 'blood and guts' revenge tragedy, was actually written to promote the Protestant politico-religious ethos, represented by Leicester, against Catholic Babylon/Spain under Philip II. Kyd combines aspects of the anti-Leicester tradition with elements of the Spanish Black Legend as expressed in Antonio Pérez's Las Relaciones in order to depict Spain under Philip II as the evil enemy of Protestant England.
In this edited collection, scholars use a variety of methodologies to explore the history of stage plays produced for British television between 1936 and the present. The volume opens with a substantial historical outline of the how plays originally written for the theatre were presented by BBC Television and the ITV companies as well as by independent producers and cultural organisations. Subsequent chapters analyse television adaptations of existing stage productions, including a 1937 presentation of a J. B. Priestley play by producer Basil Dean; work by companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Theatre and the Radical Alliance of Poets and Players; the verbatim dramas from the Tricycle Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland; and Mike Leigh’s comedy Abigail’s Party, originally staged for Hampstead Theatre and translated to the Play for Today strand in 1977. Broadcast television’s original productions of classic and contemporary drama are also considered in depth, with studies of television productions of plays by Jacobean dramatists John Webster and Thomas Middleton, and by Henrik Ibsen and Samuel Beckett. In addition, the volume offers a consideration of the contribution to television drama of the influential producer Cedric Messina who, between 1967 and 1977, oversaw BBC Television’s Play of the Month strand before initiating The BBC Television Shakespeare (1978–85); the engagement with television adaptations by modern editors of Shakespeare’s plays; and Granada Television’s eccentric experiment in 1969–70 of running The Stables Theatre Company as a producer for both stage and screen. Collectively, these chapters open up new areas of research for all those engaged in theatre, media and adaptation studies.
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.