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Reviews329 the comments on the role ofJessica or the friendship ofAntonio and Bassanio. On the other hand, the remark that "[t]he Italian garden, as represented by Shakespeare, mediates between private and public worlds" (136), does not measurably advance either the argument or our knowledge of the Shakespearean landscape. It seems to me, however, that the problems run deeper than this. Despite D'Amico's assertions about the uniqueness ofItaly's open society, there remain too many moments in the book when I am reduced to asking myself,"What is peculiarly Italian about this?"Are Italian interior spaces so very different from those in, say, Hamlet? Is an Italian court so much more open than that represented in the rural France of Love's Labours Lost? Or, looked at the other way around, might one not argue that Measure for Measure, despite its ostensible setting in Vienna, is not really more Italianate than many a play set on the other side of the Alps? The opening premise—the ruler sets up a subordinate to do the dirty work and take the fall—comes from Machiavelli; the sexual atmosphere resembles the Venice described by Coryat. Similarly, the court of Denmark , with Polonius setting spies and agentsprovocateurson his own son, then hiding behind the arras as ifit were the most natural thing in the world, comes much closer to Elizabethan imaginings of Italy than any play openly set there. Shakespeare's Italian, or Italianate, musings can go further than D'Amico allows. Fritz Levy University ofWashington Dominique Goy-Blanquet. Shakespeare's Early History Plays: From Chronicle to Stage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. 400. $85.00 casebound. In 1592, as the vogue for what came to be called history plays was still in its infancy, Thomas Nashe described their subject matter as largely"borrowed out of our English Chronicles, wherein our forefathers valiant actes (that haue lyne [lain] long buried in rustie brasse and worme-eaten bookes) are reuiued, and they them selues raysed from the Graue of Obliuion, and brought to pleade their aged Honours in open presence: than which, what can bee a sharper reproofe, to these degenerate effeminate dayes of ours?" (Pierce Penilesse, 26). The usefulness ofsuch dramatic productions layin their abilityto reinstall in the popular consciousness the memory of half-forgotten heroism—half-forgotten because the historians had failed to do their work—and so cajole the audience. According to Nashe, the model to follow in this worthy aim was King HenryV, not as he appeared in in Shakespeare's redaction but in some earlier version. 330Comparative Drama Four years after the defeat ofthe Armada,with the Spanish war as precarious as ever, and with groups ofsoldiers among the theatergoers,this might be thought a laudable aim for the new genre. To reinforce his argument, Nashe then insisted that the plays (and, presumably,the history from which theywere drawn) demonstrated"the ill successe oftreason,the fall ofhastie climbers, the wretched end ofvsurpers,the miserie ofciuill disstention, 8c howe a iust God is euermore in punishing ofmurther" (Nashe, 26v). The clear message was that God's providence had been at work in the past and would continue to work in the dangerous present. Nashe's account is familiar enough—it is quoted, in whole or in part, in the introductions to most ofthe editions ofthe plays making up what is now commonly known as the first tetralogy, and it is referred to in Goy-Blanquet's book as well. What is noted less frequently is how badly the description fits these early Shakespearean histories.After the death ofTalbot in 1 Henry VI, the kind ofheroism praised by Nashe is in very short supply; indeed, much ofthe fighting takes place on English soil, and the killing of one Englishman by another can hardly be said to merit such admiration. Nor are the operations of Providence readily discernible in the three parts of Henry VI: not every murderer is punished, treason sometimes succeeds, and usurpers—when they can be recognized as such at all—do not always come to a wretched end. Not until RichardIIIdo we find a play saturated in the sort ofprovidentialism Nashe had promised. Yet Nashe's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 329-332
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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