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198Comparative Drama tion of Weltanschauung and period styles. Hamlet has often been mentioned as a typical product of the crisis of the Renaissance, of Mannerism , and this new interpretation supplies useful arguments for this view. It is a pity that the book only implies such notions instead of systematically explaining them. While The Elizabethan Hamlet has failed as reductionist but merited as an interesting effort to reconstruct certain patterns of Elizabethan thinking, Linda Kay Hoffs reading of Hamlet as a Reformation allegory has very little to satisfy the reader's expectations. In the center of her argument there is the problem of the Apocalpyse and the figure of the Antichrist in late sixteenth-century Europe. She sees Shakespeare's play as a mere allegorical illustration of these issues with special reference to the so-called Archpriest Controversy and the Catholic debate about the Immaculate Conception. Hoff, in addition to a rather schoolish survey of various scholarship on the political, cultural, and religious issues of Shakespeare's age, develops a careful reading of Hamlet in which she works out correspondences and allegorical translations of the play relating to the Book of Revelations and the two previously mentioned Catholic controversies. We read that Gertrudis and Claudius are the two "Beasts"; that the various mentions of Time reinforce the Apocalyptic message; that keywords like "wine," "whore," and "rotten" relate Hamlet to the Bible, etc. A typical argument runs as follows: "The first period of the history of the Christian Church was the 'time' of the apostolic fathers: a period of 'true religion' that preceded the papacy as old Hamlet preceded his brother Claudius. The new rule in the Denmark of Hamlet represents the shift from the initial 'time' of the Catholic Church's apostolic fathers, personified by Gertrude's 'firmer lord,' old Hamlet, to the central 'times' of the Catholic papacy and the dominion of Hamlet's Beast-c«m-Antichrist , Claudius, and his Harlot Queen, Gertrude as the Mother Church" (p. 133). I think even this short sample testifies that Hamlet's Choice is such an individual reading that it loses all contact with Hamlet. The monomaniac search for esoteric correspondences reminds me of some medieval exegetical writers who lacked interest in the objective validity of their concepts. Hoff's book is nothing else but an effort to turn Hamlet into a crossword puzzle, and the reader's uneasiness is not dissolved by the few interesting iconographie examples she offers. No doubt, the Shakespeare industry will move on. These two books will not pose any major obstacle in the way of further Hamlet interpretations. GYÖRGY E. SZÖNYI Attila József University, Szeged Mae J. Smethurst. The Artistry of Aeschylus and Zeami. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. Pp. xii + 343. $47.50. Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443), greatest dramatist of the Japanese No, was also its major theorist. Some fifty of his plays remain in the repertoire, and the publication of his treatises on dramatic technique Reviews199 and aesthetics—they were originally a secret professional literature— affords access to his intentions as well as his achievements. Add to these textual riches No's continuous tradition of performance and the preservation of fifteenth-century masks and costume designs, and the sum is ample for testing as well as formulating academic theses. What scholar could ask for more? It is certainly enough to excite the Classicist's interest and even envy. We have only a few texts, an archaeological record both spotty and inexact, and a knowledge of performance that is largely anecdotal, problematic, and late. What would we not give to see an actual mask from Aeschylus' day or to read a copy of Sophocles' lost treatise on the chorus? Small wonder that Professor Smethurst, who knows Greek drama well, ventures so joyously into foreign realms. So much that we cannot know about Aeschylus can be known about Zeami. Does that knowledge, interesting in itself, also have comparative value? Can an advanced knowledge of the one dramatist further our understanding of the other? There are legitimate grounds for comparison and for argument by analogy. The conditions of performance bear some superficial resemblance : sets of three solemn plays and a lighter companion performed outdoors...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 198-202
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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