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470 Comparative Drama Jonson, this latter imbued with a literary mission as grandiose and "classical" as any that Peacock claims for Jones? Other readers will no doubt have their own versions of this list (what, for example, of the Continental influences upon that musical genius John Dowland?) and conclude that Peacock's claims that Jones changed darkness to light and ignorance to understanding are over-stated. Such a thesis may help to give Peacock's study a sense of narrative purpose, but the result is, to some extent, an unnecessary distraction. The chief value of this work lies in the wealth of its scholarly detail and in its analysis of the European context of Jones's work and the extraordinary qualities of Jones the theorist and designer. ALAN R. YOUNG Acadia University Lynette R. Muir. The Biblical Drama ofMedieval Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Pp. xxiii + 320. $59.95. This study presents a thorough overview of religious plays both in Great Britain and on the Continent. Complete with illustrations, maps, and a detailed appendix on the liturgical context of the plays, Muir's work originated in a catalogue and episode-guide begun in the early 1970s. Although this book is far more than a list, it has a strongly bibliographic character in that theoretical and critical concerns are absent and the focus is entirely upon presenting the extant corpus of drama written before 1500 (1550 if the play is deemed to have medieval links). As Muir states in the preface, "Very little secondary literature has been cited since the overall purpose is to encourage and facilitate detailed and comparative critical investigation of the plays, not to provide it" (xiii). While the above assertion is true as far as the body of the text is concerned, those working in this field are fortunate indeed to have the detailed content notes Muir provides on pages 180-269. These bits of supplementary information contain many references to secondary studies and editions and will undoubtedly prove useful to the researcher interested in sets, stage directions, financial matters, sources, and other aspects of the production and performance of biblical drama. The notes are followed by a "Bibliographical Index of Plays," a bibliography of "Performance Records and References," a general bibliography, and an index. The introduction succinctly covers the rise of biblical drama out of the Benedictine Daily Office (by the end of the ninth century), the eventual development of lay drama and the increasing participation of the laity in the thirteenth century, and the late medieval cyclic Passion plays, in which "Church and laity combined in an act of theatre which was also an act of worship" and "the genius of the medieval biblical Reviews471 drama found its ultimate flowering" (6). Muir points out the relative paucity of medieval biblical plays in Eastern Europe, Celtic territories, and Scandinavia. When the religious turmoil of the sixteenth century brought with it increasing emphasis on authority of the Church and the Bible, the medieval Play of God saw its demise. "Part One: The Theatrical Community" describes the liturgical and social conditions surrounding dramatic performances and includes a detailed treatment of the Quern queritis trope and other feast-day drama. Interestingly, the Latin and vernacular plays differ in their sources: Latin drama was based on the texts used in the Office, whereas the vernacular tended to use the prescribed readings for the Mass of the day (21). Considerable attention is given to the Corpus Christi plays, which are divided into three types that may be briefly noted here as simple, processional , and cyclic (23). Extra-liturgical drama, on the other hand, is constituted of "plays that were not specifically linked by subject-matter or performance occasion with the feasts of the liturgical year" (28). These plays, which developed in the twelfth century, often contain vernacular speech and were nevertheless probably still associated with the Church. In her discussion of the Passion play, Muir notes that in the fourteenth century fewer Latin extra-liturgical plays were produced, while vernacular and bilingual plays increased in number. Throughout her study, Muir provides names of plays, brief plot summaries, and identification of any known circumstances associated with their production ; hence specific examples...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 470-472
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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