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HUMANITIES 407 wholeness. Especially illuminatingis his description ofHamlet's desire to produce 'conscionable' knowledge in the Mousetrap's audience. 'It was not sufficient to play II something like" the murder of his father before the king'; Hamlet wants 'to make Claudius understand the relevance of universal moral principles to his own actions.' Carson wisely observes that it would be a mistake to think that anyone of Shakespeare's stage managers represents his own theory of drama, but in the approaches and purposes of Hamlet and Prospero, in the interplay of recognition and wonder, Shakespeare has invested a good deal of himself. As Carson concludes, the true dramatic image 'must live simultaneously in the eye, the ear, and the imagination' - and, one should add, in the heart and in the mind. It is possible, after all, to speak of Shakespeare's thought and not to mean by this an abstracted or systematized philosophy, but a coherent and complex process of dramatic and poetic exploration. One of the best essays in the collectionis R.B. Parker's discussion of the politics of state and the politics of the family in Coriolanus. Using Hibbard's edition and drawing deftly on a knowledge of history and biography, on authorities ranging from Aristotle to R.D. Laing, on a sensitivity to poetic subtlety and dramaturgical effect, Parker mounts a compelling critical argument. Though depicting 'a Rome where pietas has been sacrificed to virtus,' the play also affirms an ideal ofthe political life which is seen as 'an extension of the reciprocities of family life.' The discussion is fortified by illuminating comparisons with other plays by Shakespeare; and a lengthy and fascinating footnote on Charlotte Bronte's Shirley as 'an adaptation of the play' suggests how profitable itis for the critic to know not only the whole of Shakespeare, but something too of the Shakespearean heritage. There are a number of other fine essays in the collection which must be passed over for lack of space. James Black and J.A.B. Somerset both have witty and illuminating things to say about the artistic premises that underlie Shakespeare's fools. And Ralph Berry writes very well on Richard III. Finally, the remark in the collection's preface, that G.R. Hibbard continues to work- this time editing the New Oxford Hamlet - is welcome news. Despite the recent publication of Harold Jenkins's excellent Arden edition, there is still more to hope for. To end with an example: Hibbard might take account, as Jenkins and others have not, of J.V. Cunningham's solution (Collected Essays, PP 351-2) to the famous crux of Hamlet, I.iv,J5-B. (JOHN BAXTER) Linda Woodbridge. Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Womankind, 1540-1620 University of Illinois Press. 364. $21.95 This book treats a large and important topic: the contradictory and paradoxicalimages ofwomen that pervade major literary genres through- 408 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 out the English Renaissance. Woodbridge's arrangement of such diverse material into three parts is intelligent and helpful. Section one, 'The Formal Controversy,' focuses on works such as Sir Thomas Elyot's . inaugurating The Defence of Good Women (1540) that debate female nature by imitating the logic and rhetoric of classical oration and dialogue. Part two, 'Toward the Hermaphrodite,' describes and analyses a far more varied body of material, from essays on the transvestite 'problem' (especially Hic Mulier and Haec-Vir), to the proliferation of transvestite heroines in drama, to Petrarchan idealization of women versus its inversion in shrew-taming literature, to satire on gossips' meetings such as Samuel Rowland's fascinating Tis Merrie when Gossips meete. The final section, 'The Woman-Hater,' directs attention to the role of the professional misogynist in drama, and to the anonymous play Swetnam the Woman-Hater Arraigned by Women which brings out'all the old motifs for one last bow.' An invaluable result of the author's decision to subordinate the criterion of literary merit to that of general popularity is to inform us, through summary and analysis, about a vast body of Renaissance literature that is little known and often inaccessible, despite the fact that it is crucial to our understanding of...


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