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Reviews521 well as submission. These ideas are fundamental to an understanding of Jonson's position—or, more correctly, as Evans hints, of his positions. The argument is presented with a beguiling, indeed attractive assumption of disinterest, an eschewing of commitment on Evans' part. But his underlying ideology—glimpsed perhaps in the aesthetic hierarchy noted above—cannot be ignored forever. Sooner or later an application of the invaluable details of his research to aesthetic considerations will be necessary , whether it be undertaken by him or by others. One important contribution made by the work is the complexity of effects in Jonson's writings. This is well sustained by the analysis here of some of the poems as well as of the dramatic works. It seems to me very valuable to demonstrate that because of the difficulties of influencing and being influenced by the power of others, the strategy of Jonson 's approach, especially when he addresses such patrons as Sackville and Newcastle, is carefully modulated both towards the patron and towards his own position. Such an analysis precludes a simplistic reading . An effective response must take account of Jonson's highly intelligent and exceptionally sensitive handling of his material in terms of both subject matter and tone. It is a pleasure to reflect upon this useful contribution to Jonson studies both in terms of the detailed discussion of individual works and the more general speculation about the function ofthis kind ofhistorical study. Even if one cannot always agree with Evans there is no doubting his scholarship and the thoughtfulness of his approach. PETER HAPPÉ University ofSouthampton Michael Shapiro. Gender in Play on the Shakespearean Stage: Boy Heroines and Female Pages. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994. Pp. viii + 282. "This book traces cross-dressing as a dramaturgical motif, a theatrical practice, and a social phenomenon in early modern England" (p. 1). As Michael Shapiro shows in his Introduction, the subject permits modern critics to write their own agenda. For some, the maleness of the female impersonator generates a homoerotic allure. For others, Shakespeare (especially) is using cross-dressed heroines to explore power relations between the sexes. Whether the Shakespearean stage is held to be subverting or confirming the established conventions, it is supremely easy to take up a position. Shapiro's approach is to bring in documentary evidence of actual cases of cross-dressing. Many are reprinted in Appendix C. He thus is able to show the assumptions that the theater audiences might have brought with them. Women in male apparel were severely punished by 522Comparative Drama London magistrates. This, he suggests, was because "the freedom of movement afforded by cross-gender disguise allowed women to violate patriarchal norms of female behavior" (pp. 7-8). The audiences, I suppose , must have been less attracted to patriarchal norms than the magistrates . Certainly, plays involving heroines in male disguise tended to take a sympathetic view of them and their plight. The practical problems of playing female cross-dressing much engage Shapiro. For a play-boy of Shakespeare's day, however talented and experienced, to present a woman in the process of impersonating a man would have been extremely difficult and would probably have produced either a very broad farcical effect or a muddle. The simpler, more effective solution was a clear stylistic differentiation ofthe two genders, playing the female role in the usual style and making the male disguise seem like a version ofhimselfas ifthe performer were stepping out of character, (p. 51) I doubt, however, that "the reflexive use of male disguise called attention to the presence ofthe male performer, to his performance persona" (p. 73). A boy actor simply would not have acquired a persona, an identity . Personae do not precede puberty. The "theatrical vibrancy" that Shapiro posits for layered playing, the shifting of styles, might be as much comic as homoerotic in its effect. These matters, naturally, are hard to judge from the viewpoint oftoday . Shapiro is at times concerned to shield the Elizabethans from the wrong values. His challenge to Julia's "swoon" in The Two Gentlemen of Verona is hardly convincing. Editors insert "[swoons]" after Julia's "O me unhappy" because of what follows: PROTEUS: Look to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 521-523
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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