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Reviews539 (V.i. 12-14). Again, it seems doubtful that "the aura of Medea is present throughout the play, affecting it on every level" (p. 184). The chapter on Hamlet interprets the protagonist as a character seeking to transform himself into a Hercules type hero. Though the number of classical allusions declines in the later plays, the ones that do appear "grow in power and intensity as they function as icons for dramatic action" (p. 204). Again, perhaps the basic identification is carried rather far—Horatio's "flights of angels" (V.ii.359-60) would surely call up Christian iconography in a Renaissance audience rather than "the promise of Scipio the Elder that when a hero dies his immortal soul will leave his body and fly to heaven" (p. 219). The mythological allusions in Othello are submerged—so much so that one wonders if Professor Truax is justified in associating Iago's bestial images for Othello with Jupiter's transformations (p. 232) or Desdemona's arrival in Cyprus with Venus (p. 239). Indeed, the latter description again is more Christian than Ovidian with its "divine Desdemona" (Il.i.73) and "grace of heaven" (II.i.85). To say that Cassio is transformed by Circe when Cassio himself refers to a devil (Il.iii.338) also seems unjustified as does the concluding reference to Hades when Othello's statement with its "devils," "heavenly sight," "sulphur," and "liquid fire" (V.iii.278-80) clearly refers to hell. The book gets back on track with The Winter's Tale. One wonders , however, if the appearance of the bear does transform the "seemingly tragic moment into farce" (p. 268). Nevertheless, the argument that "the metamorphosis that concludes The Winter's Tale is the transformation of artifice into reality" (p. 280) is sound. In sum. Metamorphosis in Shakespeare's Plays is a thoroughly researched book. Its one flaw, and its virtue, is that the writer has so immersed herself in her subject that Shakespeare's plays begin to seem like one vast metamorphosis. CECILE WILLIAMSON CARY Wright State University Anne Barton. Essaxs: Mainlx Shakespearean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Pp. ? + 386. $59.95. One of the most admirable features of this collection of old and new essays by the distinguished Renaissance scholar Anne Barton is the care with which Barton has arranged her pieces. Rather than chronologically staggering her work, Barton has placed "related essays together" and thus, as her preface promises, allowed "different arguments to interact and . . . provide a sense of continuity" (p. xvi). That her chapters can so cooperatively interact, increasing our 540Comparative Drama insights in their sequential reading, is a tribute to their author's consistent clarity of thought over a thirty-year period. (The earliest essay. on Love's Labour's Lost, was first published in 1953; the two previously unpublished ones, on Shakespearean marriage and comic London , date from 1990 and 1992.) Serious students of Shakespeare are often awed by the integrity of many aspects of the playwright's imagination through his quarter-century of dramatic production, and I experienced something like this awe in relation to Barton's responses to her Renaissance subjects over a like time-span. The reader benefits from the findings of a trained vision which, having fully assimilated its insights into one area, brings its enriched perception to bear on a new or broadened field, expanding and deepening the eye's prior discoveries . For example. Barton's careful explication, in an early chapter , of the divided climax of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra assists her discussion of Ford's The Broken Heart's similar catastrophe in her book's second half; the essays, though written six years apart, develop a strikingly unified argument, yet still yield a variety of insights into two quite different plays. Elsewhere, Barton's analysis of Shakespeare's radical departure in Henry V from conventional representations of the disguised king leads easily and logically into her next chapter's argument, that Ford's Pcrkin Warbeck represented the end-point of the English history play, a form thoroughly exhausted by 1633. And late in the book, three essays written over a thirteen-year period on Renaissance and Restoration comedy merge almost seamlessly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 539-542
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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