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192 Comparative Drama Peter Meredith, ed. The Mary Play from the N. town Manuscript. London and New York: Longman, 1987. Pp. 185. $12.95. This is a brief but learned and very reliable edition of the sequence of Marian plays from the N-town Cycle. Peter Meredith here extracts plays that have .long been considered a distinct textual stratum, and edits them as a unit. In large measure, he thus recreates the Marian sequence as it presumably existed before its inclusion in the cycle. The results are splendid. Meredith's scholarship is first-rate. the text is aceurate, and his discussions of the plays are interesting and often original. Students of the religious drama are well aware of the paucity of external information about this collection. The name N-town, taken from the Proclamation that stands before the plays, in itself reflects the absence of documentary reference concerning the provenance and history of the cycle. As W. W. Greg once said, however, the text of N-town bristles with internal evidence about its own development. And in the introduction to this edition, Meredith sUlVeys with clarity and restraint the various kinds of evidence indicating that a distinct Marian sequence was incorporated into an existing collection. His review of the hinguage, meter, and style is accurate and detailed, and his discussion of the sources and analogues is thoughtful. Meredith's bringing attention to similarities between N-town and Robert Reynes' commonplace book is especially noteworthy . The reproduction of the text of these plays is so accurate that checks of several portions. of the edition revealed only one error (plaes for plese on f. 48v, Meredith's line 70S). The notes are informative, and throw light on some of the vexing problems in this cycle. The commentary will help make the plays accessible to .students, who will also find the glossary very useful. . The Mary Plf1:y properly does not include the substantial linguistic, bibliographic. and other analyses that belong in an edition of the entire cycle. Still, so learned a work Should haVe cited $e scholarly sources more fully. The discussion of dialect. for example. does not list the important publications of E. J. Dobson, Alarik Rynell. Mark.Eccles, and Jacob Bennett. The notes employ arguments first offered by Brother Cornelius Luke. Timothy Fry, and Sister M. Patricia J;?orrest. but do not credit them (see the notes to lin~ 282-83, 1028, and 1060-91). And observations abont the composition and .development of the cycle are taken from my own work. without proper notice. In all, however. this is a learned, accurate, and graceful edition. It will be excellent for classroom use and contains. many original features that make it a valuable contribution to drama scholarship. A closing comment on the form ''N. town" in Meredith's title: this correctly reproduces the manuscript entry, but any further variation in naming a collection that has been liven so many names in the past should, I think, be avoided. State University 0/ New York, Stony Brook STEPHEN SPECTOR·. ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
p. 192
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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