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Reviews529 normally have countenanced" (p. 246). The 1620's, in short, "saw the rise of something like an informed and articulate public opinion—or opinions—developing far beyond the 'natural rulers' in court and parliament ." Even "the increasingly fierce Laudian censorship of the later 1630s could hamper and obscure, but never wholly extinguish, the representation of political and ideological conflicts in the public theatres" (p. 261). These, literally, are the book's last words, and they end a volume that is unusually rich in its coverage, its quality, and its capacity to stimulate thought. ROBERT C. EVANS Auburn University at Montgomery Roy Battenhouse, ed. Shakespeare 's Christian Dimension: An Anthology of Commentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. Pp. iv + 520. $35.00. Roy Battenhouse's well-unified presentation of Christian commentary on twenty-six of Shakespeare's plays reprints excerpts discussing biblical and liturgical echoes, influences of such theologians as Augustine and Erasmus, and continuations of medieval dramatic traditions. At first sight, ninety-two selections by more than seventy authors, writing from 1930 through 1993, seem impossible to discuss except at a very general level. Yet Battenhouse uses his editorial voice and the organization of his material to guide a reader who wants to read the whole volume or to refer to a particular genre or play. His introductory essay reaches back into the nineteenth century. To each of his chapters— "Some Key Assessments," "On Shakespeare's Comedies," "On Shakespeare 's Histories," and "On Shakespeare's Tragedies"—he adds a brief introductory essay. These sections provide comments about the excerpts to come as well as a brief guide to the frequent "Suggestions for Further Reading" (over 250 additional titles). Battenhouse's many Christian readings ofMarlowe and Shakespeare and his impressive Shakespearean Tragedy: Its Art and Its Christian Premises (1969) established him as a pioneer in the subject of his anthology . Especially ifthe reader accepts his sometimes embattled editorial voice, the collection meets his goals: to "provide, especially if the selections are read in conjunction with each other, an impressive challenge to reappreciate the Christian roots of Shakespeare's art" and to emphasize "features [which] taken together make it a useful research manual, especially if readers consult its Index" (p. xi). Readers who enjoyed religion and literature discussions when they appeared most frequently in the 1960's and early 1970's will find some familiar names in the perceptive early comments of Nevill Coghill on allegory; Tom Driver on classical and Christian concepts of history; and Francis Fer- 530Comparative Drama gusson on Dante and Shakespeare. Newer readers, too, can appreciate their reasoned comments as well as those of some more recent authors such as Emrys Jones (The Origins of Shakespeare, 1977) and John D. Cox (Shakespeare and the Dramaturgy of Power, 1989), whose work has drawn attention to Shakespeare's medieval heritage. Other included authors publishing book-length studies in the 1990's—Maurice Hunt, Cynthia Marshall, and Peggy Muñoz Simonds—emphasize Christian allusion and iconography in the final plays. Battenhouse, forestalling possible queries about omitted or stringently compressed selections, clarifies his choices as "a sifting out of what seems to me chiefly valuable" (p. xi). Generically, his segment on the comedies, which includes Measurefor Measure and All's Well That Ends Well as well as the four final tragicomedies or romances, forms a convincing whole. Family reconciliation in The Comedy ofErrors looks toward the joyous reunions of the final plays, and the two "problem comedies" lend themselves to Christian allegorisis, one of the many methods of reading these dramas. Especially interesting are Battenhouse 's transitions from the "festive comedies" to the last plays, and the discussions of folly literature in connection with As You Like It and Twelfth Night. On the final plays, miracle drama allusions by Cynthia Marshall and John Cox are especially convincing. Some allegorical readings, however, strain a reader's credulity. The bed-trick is not a familiar allegory ofChrist's burial and resurrection (p. 142), for example. The section devoted to history plays lacks only King John and Henry VIII, both ofwhich Battenhouse integrates into his introductory comments . His arranging of the plays in the sequence of the Folio, the chronological order in which the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 529-532
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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