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HUMANJTIES 455 example, the topics for discussion in Bartholomew Fair. As the last item suggests, sexual roles and identities are prominent among them, with emphasis upon the degree to which women within the plays are represented as a threat, real or potentiaL to the masculine order, one which is generally met with repression and margi,nalization, The various resistance strategies open to women and their implications are likewise dealt with at length. Classical models, primarily Aristophanic) and topical references also receive significant attention. Throughout discussion is enlivened by Ostovich's clear, and sometimes provocative/ voice. Jonsonians being a disputatious lot, many of her individual points are likely to provoke dissent, but few will wish to take issue with the general thrust of her analysis. Setting, stage history, and suggestions for further reading are likewise helpfuL It is the annotations, however, that are perhaps the most significant aspect of this edition; they explain the bulk of this reasonably hefty book, and perhaps the equally hefty price as well. A large part of such annotation is of course taken up with the extensive glossing increasingly required by undergraduates confronted with the density of Jonson's language; it goes well beyond such a limited ftmction, however, to offer com1nentary both learned and illuminating. Few who are dealing seriously with these plays will not find occasion to consult them on matters both small and large. The theatrical dimension of the plays is given welcome emphasis in the annotations/ with a commentary on setting at the beginning of each scene and more specific discussions of individual moments of interest throughout the notes. I would have liked to have had more/ however, on the ambiguous and provocative nature of Jonson's manipulation of both medium and audience. Students should be aware that w atchu1g Jonson's plays is a risky business; not all the gulls are on stage. I would also have liked more on the corresponding but opposite aspect of textuality that equally defines the plays. Jonson was the first, and by no means slightest, editor of Jonson, and tends to tum the playtext into one of many competing for our notice. More specifically, a discussion of Jonson's construction of his own monument, in the fonn of the 1616 Folio, would add to the richness of this edition. TI1ese, however, are minor reservations. Ostovich has provided here an attractively presented, carefully edited, and extremely useful volume that will be of value to all students of Jonson, on both sides of the classroom. Jonson himself would approve of both its detail and decorum. (PETER AYERS) Marie H. Loughlin. Hymellelltics: Interprefi11g VirRillify on llle Early Modern Stage Bucknell University Press. 226. US$)6.50 This book/ despite the larger implications of its title, is in fact a study of five plays from the Beaumont and Fletcher canon/ The Faithflll Shepherdess, 456 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Philaster, The Queen ofCorinth, Valentinian, and The Loyal SubjecC which aims to explore the ways in which the chastity of aristocratic female characters is used to examine various political issues. The approach is rigidly new historicist, and the varied sexual dilemmas confronting the female characters are always translated into 'coded' ways of dealing with such concerns as the Stuart aristocracy's anxiety about its place as a class within an absolutist polity, the problems created by James 1's pacifist agenda, and the nature of the relationship between the monarchy and the aristocracy. The book's opening chapter draws fashionably on medical/anatomical discourses of the early modem period to construct virginity as an epistemologically unstable condition, in that its existence can only be proved by the breaking of that on which it depends, the hymen. The chapter on The Faithful Shepherdess examines the .~conflicted body' of the play's chief virgin, Clorin, in relation to that of Imogen in Cymbeline, and makes some rather laboured comparisons/ for example that in both plays 'moments of sensational violence ... serve to enact symbolically the virginal body's defloration and bring it to that point where marriage and the promise of lawful sexual consummation can defuse its problematic liminality.' But, of course, if Imogen is not a virgin (as Shakespeare's text strongly implies...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 455-457
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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