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Reviews297 of current scholarly opinion about the layout of the playhouse and its features or a better account of the organization of actors, their status, remuneration, and erratic professional lives. Perhaps the best aspect of this book is McKendrick's skill at describing the astounding variety of the comedia and—of even greater value, in my opinion-—communicating to her readers the vitality, the barely contained defiance in these plays, "which might now seem to some modern eyes undesirably conformist," "prudish," and formulaic, but which in fact pulse with "the powerful charge of anarchy and rebellion," "legitimate individualism," and barely concealed contempt for authority and orthodoxy. "The Golden-Age theater was the servant of many masters—autores, actors, corrales, moralists, literary theorists, censors, municipal and central authorities, and a socially and geographically heterogeneous public—all of whom had to be reckoned with. The result was a triumph of compromise. . . ." And McKendrick's observations on the elements in this compromise, not to mention the modern student's difficulties in assessing each correctly, are, I think unimprovable (see, for example, pp. 199-201). A "Postscript," on the vicissitudes of surviving texts and on the waxing and waning prestige of classical Spanish theater from the later seventeenth century to the present, concludes with the statement that recent British performances of works by Lope and Calderón suggest a new interest in the comedia. "The fact is that not just two remarkable playwrights but a remarkable theater to all intents and purposes still awaits redicovery" by the rest of the world. And McKendrick's study, with its combination of unpretentious scholarship and infectious enthusiasm for the subject, will undoubtedly do much to hasten this rediscovery. JOSEPH R. JONES University of Kentucky Richard Dotterer, ed. Shakespeare: Text, Subtext, and Context, Susquehanna University Studies. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1989. Pp. 234. $36.50. With this volume, Susquehanna University Studies adopts what editor Richard Dotterer describes as a "more permanent and integrated" format : "hard bound collections of essays on themes of critical interest." In the "Foreword" to the volume, Werner Gundersheimer identifies ambitious goals for the first entry in this new series: "the present volume should serve the useful end of introducing its readers to a representative cross-section of new and traditional approaches to Shakespeare's life, his use of language, dramatic techniques, attitudes toward issues of gender, impact on audiences in his own times as well as in other times and places." The volume thus invites the reader to evaluate each of its seventeen essays as representative of a particular critical approach as well as to evaluate the collection's range of critical methods. Most of the essays do exemplify well-known critical approaches; however, the collection as a whole is circumscribed by the narrow warrant of its traditional approach. The lack of any significant forays into the battle- 298Comparative Drama field of contemporary critical theory proves a major flaw in an otherwise first-rate publication. The bulk of the volume (at least ten of the essays by my count) is devoted to the traditional pillars of Shakespearean scholarship: biography , source study, historical context, close reading, and transmission of text. S. Schoenbaum's biographical essay, one of the volume's best, is representative of the conservative editorial policy that governs the selection of essays. Schoenbaum's ability to discriminate documented fact from creative inference has established the standard for Shakespearean biography, and the conclusion Schoenbaum reaches is itself now almost traditional: he finds that "the nature of the [biographical] record . . . mainly leaves us dissatisfied," but also that "The documents reveal strikingly Shakespeare's professional commitment to the stage." Even though the essay adds nothing to what has been published elsewhere (mostly by Schoenbaum) about Shakespeare's life, the essay agreeably encapsulates the most pertinent biographical facts and fictions into a piece one can peruse just before sitting for doctoral exams. Traditional critical approaches to Shakespeare's plays are represented by Maurice Hunt's examination of language derived from the "Galenico-Paracelsian" controversy in Lear and Coriolanus, Norman Brittin's discussion of Shakespeare's use of Sidney's Arcadia, Richard Fly's reading of the Henry Vl plays, and William Collins Watterson's discussion of Hotspur...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 297-300
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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