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-· r ; - !1 -, I II • I .'' . ~. I ' I ' I ' I·, ' I I / j I - ', I I I , · .• I '\ . -, ..., ._, / .·,I' c I ( \ , ,: \ \ , 1, c REVIEWS MAINLY ABOUT SHAKESPEARE* R~ s. KNOX ..• ' I By the death of Mr.cJohn .Palmer in 1944 England lost one of its most scholarly and versatilecdramatic critics. As a young m!in he had been the spccessor to Bernard Shaw and Max Beerbohm qn the staff o(the Saturday Review. In his later life he joined that characteristically English·class who; as public servants, find or are tolerantly given ~iime from their professional d_p.ties to f9llow their -scholarly interests. .From beihg a critic of the con- , t'emporary theatre Mr. Palmer ha.d turned to the drama, and especially the comic drama, of the past- , fi1!mly establishing his reputation: as critic and scholar by his books on Restoration comedy, Moliere, and Jonson. At the time of his death he was at work on two ·books on: Shakespeare. Political Chqracters of Shake'speare he saw in part through the press. Comic Characters of Shakespear_ e, a small group of essays which he meant to extend,- has r been published postc humously. I c', · c·Of the two Shakespeare books that on the political characters is the ~ore ifnportant. It ·is a good complement and corrective to some other recent studies of Shakespeare's Histories. The fashion of the moment is to see Shakespeare in terms of his bwn time, to stress the pertinence ' for the; -1 Elizabethans of th~ lessons the ·dramatist gave fron;a. previous hi,story, and to ,find amo.ng the historical. figures, often with contradictory assuranc~, explicit or implicit allusions to contemporary personages. Mr. Palmer ocf course admits the relevan'c.e of the plays for Elizabethan politics. Sh'akespeare , a citizen of the New Monarchy, naturally accepted the ideology of his time; and one of the staunchest of its convictions was the belief, forced home by the dramatist, in the necessity of a strong government which wou1d keep disorder fro.t;n the state. · Moreover the historical themes which he dramatized were, in 'large part determined for him. T-he story ·of the,past most alive for his audience was the Contention of the Two Famous .Houses; Hthey savoured upon the stage the cala'mities from which by God's ~· '· grace and the Tudor system they had successfully emerged, and nourished a .· growing pride in themselves as a united people." That there are side _glan~es in the plays at contemporary figures, incidents, and problems, Mr. *Political Characters of Shakespeare. By JoHN PALMER. London: Macmillan,· · and Co. [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada]. 1945. Pp. xii, 335. (~6.00) Comic Characters of Shakespeare. By JoHN PALMER. London: M~crnillan and Co. [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of CanadaJ. 1946. Pp. xvi, 135. ($2.00) , · Sources for a Biography 'of Shqkespeare. By E. K. CHAMBERS.' Oxford: at the ClarenI '· ' don Press {Toronto: Clarlte, IrwinJ. 1946. Pp. 80. ($2.00) ' 1 Shakespeare and Jonson': Their Reputations in the Seventeenth Century . Compared; fvols. ·By GERALD E. BENTLEY. Chicago:· University of Chicago Press !Toronto: W. J. GageJ. 1945. Pp. iv, 307; viii, 149. ($10.00) . " " Shakespeare's Imagination: A Study of the Psychology of Association and Inspiration. By EDWARD A. ARMSTRONG. London, Eng.: Lindsay Drummond. 1946. Pp. 191. (10/6) .. 97 / 'I \ ~--- '----- -- ~ .. -------~---· ··~· - . , I .•J t,: :~-. t· I ' \ ' I ' ~ -. i ' - !'- ( ' ' ·'I '. ., -.. .'• ,. ' : ~8 ' -, - . . ' (• THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY - '· ~ Palmer would a'llo~, but he wouid spurn such a distq_ rted notion, advanced ' soletl).nly by another recent commentator, that the relationship of·.King· John and Arthur shadowed that of Elizabeth ·to Mary of Scotland. Two related themes, neither riew but each freshly argued and expo.unded, inform the, book. The first .is that, altho.ugh the plays are -unmatched in any literature for. their poll.tical content, Shakespeare himself was not . politically minded. . ': . " ~ -· t ... ' I REVIEWS I' success than the political plays of Shakespeare."· This relevance_ t9_later history and to the present scene, though never unduly pressed, is mad~ ~ufficiently clear; and·, of course, it is "merely an incidental consequence of the fidelity to truth _ 'Yith which- the dramatist depicted his political characters." · · ,· · In the introduction · to Comic Characters...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 97-101
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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