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348Comparative Drama legitimate heirto thethronebya similarrightofprimogeniture. But Shakespeare's play goes farther to consider the possibility that the monarch holds his position by power rather than right, a possibility that Elinor raises in private counsel to her son. The unhistorical interlude involving the Bastard's claim to his brother's lands reinforces Elinor's position. John, following Elizabethan inheritance law, awards the lands to the Bastard on the basis ofprimogeniture. By law, the Bastard is the son of his mother's husband, no matter who may be his biological father. But the Bastard, following Elinor's counsel, chooses an opportunity for heroic romance over inherited lands. Problems ofsuccession are resolved as the family accepts the Bastard and he, in turn, relinquishes his claim to its lands. Law and succession are therefore revealed as mutable institutions. As always, Shakespeare remains ambivalent about his powerful females: "Evoking the nation's desire for a mother even as it voices a nostalgic yearning for a patriotic and patriarchal past, KingJohn may also register both the anxieties and possibilities prompted by the unsettled Elizabethan succession" (145). Women's Matters builds its argument incrementally, with a deliberation suitable to its central theme. Shakespeare's early histories, concludes Levine, are concerned less with "propagandizing a particular image of authority" than with "examining the processes by which these images are constructed" (147). What the plays generally teach, as Levine's analysis of Eleanor Cobham argues in more specific terms, is "skepticism rather than acceptance ofauthority" (67). The reader of Levine's book is encouraged to adopt Shakespeare's own skepticism , to examine issues and events from all sides. For this reason, Women's Matters rewards close and sustained attention, both to its global claims and to the details of its close readings. It is best read as an extended dialogue with historicist and feminist criticism of Shakespeare rather than as a series of discrete chapters. CHRISTY DESMET University ofGeorgia Gordon Kipling.EntertheKing: Theatre,Liturgy, andRitual in the Medieval Civic Triumph. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998. Pp. xv + 393. $85.00. The medieval civic triumph has usually been studied from the vantage of the Renaissance and as a result it has continued to be regarded as the primitive, derivative,and inept show thatWithington and Chambers described in theearly part of the twentieth century, lacking the coherent imagery and sophisticated Reviews349 political purpose of its neoclassical successor. In his Enter the King, Gordon Kipling seeks to correct this misunderstanding by taking the medieval triumph in northern Europe as a subject worthy offull-length study in its own right and by explaining its artistry and purpose. Kipling begins with the mid-fourteenth century when pageants first appear in civic triumphs, transforming them into theatrical rituals by converting cities into stages and sovereigns and their subjects into actors in dramas of inauguration, and concludes with the sixteenth century when the triumph begins to exhibit neoclassical form. In the early twentieth century Johan Huizinga distinguished between the medieval religious drama and the civic triumph based on their inherent ideas: the former was characterized by "sublime thought" which lent "grace and dignity "while the latter drew on"vain convention and mere literature" (7). Kipling suggests that the underlying artistic conception ofthe medieval civic entry was Christian rather than classical, feudal rather than imperial, triumphal without being Roman, and that, in fact, it was informed by a "sublime" idea, linking it more closely than has been suspected to the religious drama. He illustrates that idea with a fascinating interpretation of Richard II's 1392 entry into London. Abandoning the old trade-symbol hypothesis, Kipling explains that the entry stages Richard's epiphany to his subjects as a type ofChrist. This idea, derived from the complex Advent liturgy of the medieval church, was used to dramatize sovereigns' entries into cities throughout northern Europe in terms of the various levels ofmeaning associated with Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and so locates the civic triumph on the frontier between ritual and drama (12-19). The four Advents offered a number of possible variations for pageant designers : Advent liturgy celebrated Christ's first coming in humility and mercy to the world and to each believing soul and prepared the faithful...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 348-350
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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