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Reviews121 regard to the aesthetic appeal of violence, there is little new under the sun. Ostensibly, her goal is to remind modern theater practitioners and critics ofthe debt they owe to, or, more properly speaking, the diseases they have inherited from, earlier generations of dramatists and rhetors. However, since the book's primary audience will be medieval theater specialists, a group notorious for its suspicion ofanything written after 1600, Enders's true goal is likely to convince her colleagues that modern theory can be useful and, further, can be comprehended when related to something familiar and known. Enders achieves this goal admirably, and so I highly recommend The Medieval Theater of Cruelty not only for its content but also for its process: it stands as a fine example of how modern theory may responsibly be integrated into discussions of medieval texts. My only problem with Enders's otherwise excellent study will perhaps trouble no one else. I found her tide a bit misleading, as The Medieval Theater of Cruelty caused me to expect a more extended discussion of the theories of Antonin Artaud. Granted, Enders's focus is on things medieval, and so she does not spend a great deal oftime discussing any modern theory or theorist. However , to warrant her use ofthe catchy title, she perhaps could have done more than just insert into her book a few short and rather poorly contextualized excerpts from Theater and its Double. If she had ventured a bit further afield, if she had examined other texts from Artaud's considerable corpus, she would have discovered her assertion that the modern Western aesthetic of violence originated with medieval rhetoric and theater is itself not all that new. Artaud himself suggested as much in, among other texts, "Manifeste pour un théâtre avorté" ("Manifesto for a Theater that Failed") and "Le Retour de la France aux principes sacrés" ("The ReturnofFrance to Sacred Principles").This final point is, however, slight criticism ofan otherwise extremely well-written, persuasive, and stimulating book. Leanne Groeneveld University ofAlberta Patrick Cheney. Marlowe's Counterfeit Profession: Ovid, Spenser, Counter-Nationhood. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997. Pp. xii+402. $60.00. In a work ofscrupulous scholarship, impressive documentation, and ingenious close readings, Patrick Cheney offers a bold new paradigm for the assessment of Marlowe's contribution to literary and dramatic art. As his tide implies , Cheney proposes that Marlowe's art is best understood as a response to 122Comparative Drama the work of Marlowe's chosen classical literary forebear, Ovid, and his greatest contemporary rival, Edmund Spenser. In promoting comparative readings of Marlowe and these non-dramatic poets, Cheney is explicitly amending a critical tradition which has (he argues) focused too narrowly on Marlowe's plays and compared him too exclusively with his chief dramatic rival, Shakespeare. By analyzing Marlowe's debt to Ovid as revealed in Marlowe's complicated poetic -dramatic responses to Spenser's work, Cheney is able to present Marlowe's non-dramatic poetry and his tragedies as parts ofa comprehensive and unified "literary career" (3). This career, Cheney argues, was consciously dedicated by Marlowe to three interrelated projects: the clear (and self-congratulating) development ofa three-part cursus oflifetime poetic achievement in the tradition of Ovid and Virgil; the literary outdoing of his rival Spenser (as well as the completion of Ovid's failed cursus); and the creation of a counter-Spenserian notion of nationhood. Cheney argues that, choosing the Ovidian in preference to the Virgilian model oflifetime poetic achievement, Marlowe proved himselffirst as an amatory poet (translating Ovid's Elegies and writing "The Passionate Shepherd"), next as a tragic playwright (surpassing, with five plays, both Spenser and Ovid's sole, lost tragedy, Medea), and finally as an epic poet (translating Lucan's First Book and beginning Hero and Leander). In the process, neo-pagan Marlowe challenged Spenser's Christian classicism, Spenser's ideal presentations of heterosexual marriage, and finally Spenser's participation in the nationalistic cult of Elizabeth. In the sly echoes and revisions of Spenser that are everywhere evident in Marlowe's work, Marlowe glamorizes sensual, often homo-erotic love in preference to Christian caritas, and suggests that free-thinking, independent, questioning scholars and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 121-124
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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