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HUMANITIES 409 'we find in Pyrochles' narrative a second phase of education where experience reflects the strong Sophistic and rhetorist stress on factors of contingency or circumstance.' Put together they suggest the evolving education of a prince, dealing first with simple situations, ultimately with ambiguous and contradictory ones. None of this is particularly new for the intelligent reader of the New Arcadia. And to conclude, as Lindheim does, that public and private morality 'go together because Sidney's social vision required that the good man fulfil himself and his purpose in life through serving his fellow man' seems superficial to say the least. Lindheim ends her examination of structures with several rather predictable illustrations of how Sidney creates incidents 'designed to form a spectrum of possibilities, as in the treatment of love, or ... arranged hierarchically on the basis of the analogical relation controlling personal, familial, and political virtue.' The Structures of Sidney's 'Arcadia' seems more a series of meditations than an organized whole. For all its pleading, the rhetorical, tonal, and narrative structures, while at times certainly interesting in themselves, are not convincingly manifestations of the same philosophic impulse to dissolve all contraries. Moreover, John Danby (as Lindheim acknowledges ) enunciated much of this more than thirty years ago in Poets on Fortune's Hill. Finally, Lindheim never convincingly demonstrates how what she has 'discovered' in Sidney's thinking is manifestly different from the Renaissance's love affair with the discordia concors. To say that for Sidney 'the important antithetical topoi of action and contemplation, public and private, even reason and passion, prove reconcilable by having one of the terms fulfilled in the realization of the higher term' sounds like a Neoplatonic commonplace, not an idiosyncratic insight on either Sidney'S or Lindheim's part. (HUGH MACLACHLAN) Marion B. Smith. Casque to Cushion: A Study of 'Othello' and 'Coriolanus' Canadian Federation for the Humanities 1979. 176. $J.95 paper Shakespeare's treatment of the military hero in Othello and Coriolanus seems a natural subject - certainly central and substantial enough - for a sustained comparison in companion essays. There is the influential precedent of M.N. Proser's The Heroic Image in Five Shakespearean Tragedies (Princeton 1965). And Marion Smith's own introduction lays the groundwork for such an approach, despite her parting caution that we should not expect the' "Wimbledon structure" of the typical comparison and contrast' (p 5). In fact, the disclaimer is understated. Not only are the two essays independent and self-contained, but the main point of contact between them - the military theme - does not really dominate either one. The 410 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 idea that, for both Othello and Coriolanus, the biases of war subvert the arts of peace hardly makes a controversial premise, and Smith chooses not to extend it controversially. Unlike Proser, she keeps generally clear of the psychological underpinnings of the military role, although Othello 's self-consciousness and insecurity are touched on (and insistently related to his blackness). The human being behind the well-armoured image of Coriolanus receives still scanter attention: even the powerful bonds that tie him to his mother are reduced to 'filial obedience' (p 152). This emphasis on the heroic role as an expression rather than a demonstration of values may disappoint those who believe that Shakespeare here, as elsewhere, locates the deepest tragedy in the deepest self-deception . But the restriction of vision is hard to quarrel with, since it is part of the author's pursuit of more pressing interests. The second essay, on Coriolanus, is the more conventional piece, and the weaker. Impatient with absolutist political criticism of Shakespeare's most political play, Smith approaches the work as an attack on political parties and, with scrupulous balance, documents the consequences of Coriolanus's own absolutism. She gives deft attention to Shakespeare's use of sources and to Renaissance political theory; her application of Aristotle's Ethics and Politics is unfailingly judicious; there are worthwhile insights on secondary issues and secondary characters (notably Cominius , whom she gallantly rescues from obscurity). Yet the main argument , as it works its way through fifty pages of doggedly linear 'examination of the action of the play in relation to its...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 409-411
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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