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Reviews477 of the so-called "century without poetry." He has chosen to render the simple structures of the original in octaves of unrhymed hendecasyllables , and is not afraid to use the dignified inversions of poetic convention that are required to maintain the rhythms of the original and the echoes of the biblical and poetic antecedents. He avoids anachronistic neologisms (even though the author of the Sant'Antonio play is not troubled by such scruples, for there the fourth-century desert father sends his sister to the fifteenth-century Florentine convent of the Múrate), but keeps clear of the archaisms that would render the text unintelligible to modern students. These translations set the standard for future translations of rappresentazioni. Students and scholars in a range of disciplines—medieval and Renaissance , theater and literature, women's studies and religious studies— will appreciate this volume. It is further enhanced by a general introduction to the series, entitled "The Old Voice and the Other Voice," by Margaret L. King and Albert Rabil, Jr., which outlines in twenty-two lucid pages the emergence of a second voice against the 3,000-year tradition of the misogynistic "first voice." We look forward to future titles in the series. NERIDA NEWBIGIN University of Sydney William C. Carroll. Fat King, Lean Beggar: Representations ofPoverty in the Age of Shakespeare. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996. Pp xiii + 237. $37.50. Beginning with the provocative question "why are beggars so often feared by the general public?" (3), William C. Carroll's Fat King, Lean Beggar illuminates a complex set of associations between theatricality and poverty in early modem England. Beggars were, then as now, frequently suspected of being frauds, of feigning the appearance and role of neediness, and documents from the Tudor-Stuart period employ theatrical terminology to expose these so-called counterfeiters. Moreover, the London theaters were uneasily viewed as potential sites of seditious activity , where vagrants (a category that could include itinerant players) consorted with one another. The conjunction of the supposed theatricality of poverty and the established poverty of theatrical life provides a number of fruitful possibilities for exploration. Carroll's clear and interesting inquiry adds a substantial dimension to an understanding of social life and representational politics in Shakespeare's England, and it grounds the period's theatrical image of the beggar in historical terms. In focusing on representations and discourses of poverty, Carroll is not denying the depressing physical reality of the condition. He outlines the economic and political issues that caused widespread poverty in the 478 Comparative Drama Tudor-Stuart period: rapid population growth, especially in London; rampant inflation; and changing patterns of land ownership and land use. But his interest combines semiotics with social history, and so Carroll probes how the poor are represented in the period and how the individual beggar's body "becomes a central site of semiotic conflict and interrogation" (24). Vagrants or masterless men were "transgressive by definition" (6) because they existed outside the established social hierarchy; they wandered, rather than staying in their proper place. By marginalizing or demonizing vagrants, official discourse sought to reestablish the threatened social hierarchy. But, as Carroll shows, the opposition between king and beggar is inherently unstable, its terms vulnerable to symbolic inversion. Carroll establishes that the number of beggars and their subversive threat were often exaggerated, that the actual isolation of the destitute was denied by fantasies of their merry confederacy, and that beggars' generally wretched lives were romanticized in fantasies of freedom, natural plenty, and sexual license. Carroll diagnoses the political interest served by such evasions of reality or outright fantasies: "by vastly magnifying a real but dispersed social threat into a grand conspiracy, harsher and more extreme forms of punishment might be justified" (38). The Poor Laws—restraining beggars, establishing houses of correction, and mandating corporal punishment in such forms as whipping, branding, and docking of ears—were also supported by a metaphorical understanding of poverty as an infection that must be contained to prevent its spread through the body politic. Although charity was a Christian duty, Carroll finds little evidence that individual or institutional expressions of charity did much to relieve the problem of poverty. The Christian obligation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 477-480
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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