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220Rocky Mountain Review recurring depression. By ignoring Woolfs experience, Shaffer seems to suggest that Woolf was more influenced by Bell's writing on the subject than by her own anguished experience, which seems unlikely. Shaffer tends to make general statements about Woolfs idea of civilization , and these deny the sophistication of Woolfs prose as she moves in and out of her characters' very different consciousnesses. We would expect to see a variety of subtle, complex, and shifting interpretations of civilization in Woolfs work, but Shaffer has honed the term down to something rather static and simple in order to make his thesis work. Shaffer's technique of comparing fiction with contemporary non-fiction raises some provocative questions about the meaning of civilization, but his book would be even more interesting if he had been willing to problematize those readings rather than reach too quickly for tidy solutions. JUDY ELSLEY Weber State University MATTHEW H. WIKANDER. Princes to Act: Royal Audience and Royal Performance, 1578-1792. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. 348 p. In this immensely learned and wide-ranging study, Matthew H. Wikander examines the historical and to some extent the theoretical dynamic of royal performance, discusses the representational and political difficulties of actors playing monarchs and monarchs as actors, and speculates on the potentially threatening démystification of the royal position when it is foregrounded as an imagined construct. The doctrinal belief that the monarch inhabits simultaneously both human and divine bodies is perilously close to the "ritual substitution and replacement" by which drama exists (5). While this avenue of inquiry is extremely rich, Wikander is more interested in the particular nature of drama as a continual negotiation and renegotiation through production. In his detailed analysis and interpretation of specific texts he is able to chart considerable movement, in response to historical circumstances of specific productions and shifting contexts, in what particular plays have been taken to "mean." Contrasting A Midsummer Night's Dream with Thomas Churchyard's A Discourse of the Queenes Maiesties entertainment in Suffolk and Norfolk, Wikander examines the response each play produces in Elizabeth, their royal spectator. The former, he shows, a strongly metatheatrical piece written for a wider audience than just Elizabeth, foregrounds the potential for royal offense, but effectively creates a stage of the royal progress, suggesting to Elizabeth, perhaps imposing on her, the part of gracious monarch that she should play. Churchyard's Discourse, however, an amateur, occasional piece, is endured by Elizabeth and allows her to choose the role of forbearing prince before her own public audience. Book Reviews221 The dual spectacle that is produced when a monarch watches a play is demonstrated in Measure for Measure, which, Wikander suggests, allegorically plays out the rivalry between professional theater and royal audience in a way that speaks to the sophisticated cultural and institutional status of the theatre. Both Elizabeth and James I referred to themselves as existing on a public stage. For Elizabeth this meant that she was subject to scrutiny and vulnerable to scandal, while James feared his ability to rule would be compromised by public foreknowledge of his intentions. Similarly, Duke Vincentio, Measure for Measure's royal actor, fears that "playing to the audience mars royal performance" (which, Wikander points out, is a sentiment as acute for a player as for a prince), while Lucio (as well as some ofJames's critics) suggests that royal secrecy is, in effect, more often sinister than politic (46). Measure for Measure thus "runs the risk of slander by bringing the world of the public theater into the court" (65). In an excellent discussion of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays The Maid's Tragedy, Philaster, and A King and No King, Wikander demonstrates how the ideal of royal performance is extended to the Jacobean court as, through satire of specific court masques and of the genre of court masque as a whole, court life is portrayed as a tyranny of artifice, a "skeptical vision of an unstable and incoherent world" (88). While masque is necessarily panegyric, effectively serving to mystify the role of the monarch, plays such as those discussed, written for public theatre but with the knowledge that they may be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 220-224
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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