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REVIEWS 304 pp., ill. In this volume, Rayna Kalas takes as her starting point the complicated problems with the word “frame” in the modern discussion of the Renaissance. As Kalas explores, distinct removable frames for paintings were a development of the late Renaissance; earlier artwork was generally continuous with the object painted, or bounded by functional borders, such as those of a triptych. The word “frame” has a long and fascinating history, one which entails a transformation from an original sense of use and “making” to a more recent sense of delineation. All sorts of issues are implicated in this transformation, such as the “framing” of history and aesthetics, the emergence of the concept of the artist as autonomous maker, and shifting ontologies of creation. And really, that is only the beginning; this exploration could easily be extended to the making of gender and genre, the reframing of antiquity, for example. Even here, it should probably be extended to the language of the “frame” in nearby and relevant languages, such as French, Italian and Dutch. This volume confines itself to the excavation of the lexical (in English), social and material history of glass, mirrors and frames in relation to their figurative manifestation in poetry. Probably the most exciting insight Kalas makes is that to frame meant, in essence , to make rather than to delineate, and that a revision in our understanding of the term necessitates a reconsideration of poetic making: words were understood as material and temporal matter, as distinguished from divine essence. That distinction may not be brand new, but by putting special focus on the history of the word “frame” it is thrown into remarkably greater resolution, in phrases such as Spenser’s “goodly frame of Temperance” (96). Similarly, the mirror both as an object and as a metaphor is familiar to any student of the Renaissance, but we do not commonly imagine a mirror as it existed—physically and socially—in that time, nor do we consider how those experiences were undergoing rapid change. Kalas corrects this and connects the material presence of glass and mirrors to innovative readings of texts like Shakespeare, Nashe, Sidney, Gascoigne and Herbert. In a variety of genres ranging from the sonnet to whatever we may call what Nashe wrote, these writers give widely divergent life to the objects of Kalas’s study. As Kalas shows, “Renaissance texts, and especially English poetic texts, show an increasing interest in explaining the correspondence of the material world to an ideality that was very differently defined in patristic theology than it was in the classical philosophies revived by humanists” (103). Thus—especially in poetry—the meaning of objects that bound, reflect or view things is a focal point for an epistemic shift. It is a fairly minor quibble that there is some repetition and unnecessary intellectual history; overall this is an innovative, wide-ranging and provocative book. MICHAEL SAENGER, English, Southwestern University Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare, ed. Scott Newstock (West Lafayette: Parlour Press 2007) iv + 308 pp. If there is a hagiographic feel to Scott Newstock’s assemblage of erudite and provocative texts of Kenneth Burke, it is an inevitable consequence of Burke’s choice to eschew the sort of monographs that have become synonymous with the positions of such figures as Tillyard and Bradley, in favor of short uncon- REVIEWS 305 ventional writings, thus necessitating a retrospective compilation. Though Newstock mixes praise with criticism in his introduction, he makes a convincing case that Burke was one of the most profoundly influential Shakespeare critics of the last century. Burke’s texts might be a bit over-cherished here (Newstock puts in footnotes passages which Burke crossed out in his notes), but there is undeniably a strange freshness to Burke’s idiosyncratic voice. And if Burke ushered in a variety of forms of cultural studies in Shakespeare significantly avant la lettre, it should not be surprising to find that his texts can retain their currency. There is clearly a generational gap in familiarity with Burke’s work. This volume is mainly aimed at a younger generation who are less familiar with Burke’s overtly rhetorical and admirably charming style, a mode more similar to Coleridge or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-0290
Print ISSN
0069-6412
Pages
pp. 304-305
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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