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Reviews295 and, while catering to the popular taste, simultaneously subverted it? In all of the Western productions of Much Ado and The Winter's Tale that I have seen, Beatrice and Perdita are shown as white complexioned, despite the text clearly contradicting this assumption. Beatrice describes herself as being "sun-burnt" and therefore doomed to cry "heigh-ho for a husband!" and Florizel tells Leontes, untruthfully yet plausibly, that Perdita comes "from Libya," for, though her mother is a Russian, her father is a Sicilian. Shakespeare's vision seems to have transcended race and color barriers. The editor of this volume—herself an African American as she tells us in her introduction—then, it seems to me, has brought together in these essays various points ofview that cohere, that tell us the truth, but not the whole truth. But can the whole truth ever be told? In defense of Shakespeare Dr. Johnson had pointed out that "Voltaire perhaps thinks decency violated when the Danish usurper is represented as a drunkard. But Shakespeare always makes nature predominate over accident. ... He therefore added drunkenness to his other qualities, knowing that kings love wine like other men, and that wine exerts its natural power upon kings." In general, it can be said that our own phenomenological underpinnings are never more evident than when we talk about so sensitive an issue as race and color. Thus Marjorie Raley ("Claribel's Husband") sees "the love test set up by Portia's father" ensuring "that the lusty northern African will have neither his own dynasty nor a place in any other." But of course the ban on marriage applies to all unsuccessful suitors for Portia's hand, including the prince of Aragon, a Spaniard, the County Palatine, a German, Monsieur Le Bon, a Frenchman, and even Falconbridge, an Englishman, among others. Readers who are prepared to overlook such misreadings will find these essays rewarding for their fresh vigor and frequent insight while exploring the richness and vitality of the issue of race in Renaissance culture in matters relating to power, dominance, and sexuality. R. W. DESAI University ofDelhi Susan J. Owen. Restoration Theatre and Crisis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Pp. xii + 343. $76.00 By all rights, Restoration Theatre and Crisis ought to provide a much-needed corrective to New Historicist accounts of Restoration drama that glad-handedly assign designations of "Tory" or "Whig" to Restoration plays. Indeed, Owen sets out to do just that, and organizes her discussion ofplays produced during the years ofthe Exclusion Crisis (1679-1683) under the rubric of what she calls "a drama of contradiction " (7). Owen claims that dramatists of this period responded to the political issues of the day in ways that problematize the easy cate- 296Comparative Drama gories recent critics have promulgated. Rather than writing "Tory" or "Whig" plays, these playwrights "strain every nerve to offer a royalism which is nevertheless tormented and fractured; or offer a message of moderation which insists upon the need for royal temperance; or launch boldly into a rhetoric of outright Whiggery." Nor were playwrights necessarily constrained by their own political agendas, since "the same dramatist may veer from tormented quietism, to rousing royalism , to a Whiggish focus on anti-popery and hostility to the court, to scathing Tory satire" (3). Owen believes that such shifts in affiliation were influenced by the Exclusion Crisis, which, as Owen's readers will know, included royal dissolution of four Parliaments and increasing demands from the Commons that Charles II exclude his Catholic brother James from succession to the throne. The first three chapters "map the theatrical seasons against the seasons of the crisis" (62) through examinations of the prologues and epilogues of the plays produced during the crisis and through readings of the plays of John Crowne. Using this paradigm, Owen finds that the plays reflect the political "moment" of any given season. Thus the dramatic season of 1678-79, the first year of the Exclusion Crisis, is affected by a political Zeitgeist "dominated by a crisis atmosphere, doubt, and uncertainty." During the increasing polarization of the 1679-80 political season, Tory drama "shifted decisively to the dangers of civil war arising from rebels inciting the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 295-299
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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