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HUMANITIES 107 most tellingly reflected in the second-rate art of any period, and in the theatre we can locate certain stylistic touchstones which have had their effect on the reading and playing of Julius Caesar: in 1713 Addison's Cato, a hundred years later the Virginius ofSheridan Knowles, one of Macready's great vehicles, and a hundred years after that the 1926 film of Ben Hur. The aesthetics ofstaging have changed as the presence of the populus Romanus has been more or less insisted on. Shakespeare's own Roman mob was probably quite small, as stage mobs continued to be in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; their schoolboyish misbehaviour on the 'lend me your ears' speech is frostily recorded by Francis Gentleman. The careful rehearsal and grouping of many actors to form a massive spectacle is perhaps best known as the hallmark of the Meininger troupe at the end of the nineteenth century, but this fashion of staging the play began with Kemble's production in 1812 and reached its absurd peak in a production in Los Angeles in 1916, with five thousand performers as gladiators, slave girls, and soldiers. Ripley is less interesting as a critic of the play itself; he feels that it has not been well served by modern productions and calls it 'a heroic play adrift in an anti-heroic age: He is more sanguine than Granville-Barkerabout its construction, and he does not really compare it, as modern critics and theatregoers have done, with Shakespeare's other plays on classical themes. One cavil and one cheer. The 'Chronological Handlist of Performances, 1599-1973: which should be a very useful tool, is not rigorous in its principles. Either it should list only stage performances, or it should include a complete broadcast record and a record of all film versions, which are in any case briefly mentioned in the text. Since both major films include Gielgud, who has been acting in the play from the age of twelve, they should be in any list of 'performances: The cheer is for the jacket design, an elegant, energetic Roman group by Eric Fraser. (JOHN H. ASTINGTON) Anne Lancashire, editor. The Second Maiden's Tragedy Revels Plays. Manchester University PresslJohns Hopkins University Press 1978. xix, 317. $20.00 George Hibbard, editor. Bartholmew Fair New Mermaid Edition. Benn 1977. xxxvi, 180. £1.95 paper These two distinguished examples of the editing of seventeenth-century drama address editorial challenges as different as the texts themselves. The Second Maiden's Tragedy exists in a unique manuscript in the British Library and has had few modern editions; Professor Lancashire's can justly claim to be the first authoritative text. Bartholmew Fair (Professor 108 LETTERS IN CANADA 1980 Hibbard restores Jonson's spelling of the title throughout), badly printed in the Folio of ,63', has already been scrupulously edited in Herford and Simpson's authoritative complete Ben Jonson and has made numerous other modem appearances. Lancashire thus has the task of introducing an obscure and neglected work to a modem audience, while Hibbard seeks to shed new light on a classic. It is appropriate to the widely divergent challenges involved that Lancashire chooses a conservative, Hibbard a somewhat more radical, editorial approach. Lancashire's conservatism manifests itself first of all in her treatment of the disputed question of the play's authorship. Her introduction argues persuasively for Middleton as the author, a view which necessitates ascribing The Revenger's Tragedy to Middleton instead of to Cyril Tourneur . She presents her evidence completely and convincingly, but refnIins from making the ascription definite and so makes no more claims than the evidence will bear. The edition itself, with the many parallels to other Middleton plays which she adduces, must become part of the continuing debate. Conservatism is evident as well in the minute detail she lavishes on every aspect of the edition, from the lengthy introduction with its exhaustive treatment of manuscript problems through the copious annotations of the text itself to the detailed appendices, one of the most useful of which deals with the question of dramatic censorship under Elizabeth I and James 1. The obvious benefit of such detail is thoroughness; there are few...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 107-110
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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