restricted access Performing Identities on the Restoration Stage by Cynthia Lowenthal (review)
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186 duce. Yet most of the work here is interpretative , hardly helpful for students coming to these works for the first time. More troubling is that the editions have no annotations. The poetry text offers Books I and II from Paradise Lost and selections from Dryden, Rochester, Swift, Pope, Gray, and Collins, as well as ‘‘The Vanity of Human Wishes’’ and ‘‘The Deserted Village .’’Two blurbs on the back cover compete for the reader’s eye: the first on the general series states that ‘‘traditional favourites are placed alongside less wellknown titles, reflecting the ways in which the literary canon has changed in recent years’’; the second, that the book ‘‘offers readers authoritative texts of the central works of the age from a wide range of poets,’’ which, presumably, describes the nine male poets whose works are included . Restoration Comedy offers two plays, The Country Wife and The Way of the World. It also has two blurbs of the back cover: the first, identical to the blurb in the other volume; the second, implying that one only needs these two plays to get ‘‘the flavour of the bawdy and satirical comedies’’ofthattime. InthePreface,the series editor argues that the texts in the Essential Literature series are compact and convenient. They are. And readers and students not wanting to waste time with Introductions and annotations will probably think so too. Timothy J. Viator Rowan University CYNTHIA LOWENTHAL.PerformingIdentities on the Restoration Stage. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois, 2003. Pp. x ⫹ 270. $40. Ms. Lowenthal considers the ways that nineteen Restoration plays and the lives of two actresses variously performed, reinforced, contained, and transgressed conceptions of imperial, national, class, and gender identity. Chapter One examines how seventeenth-century English discourse typically depicts non-English bodies as dark, excessive, unrestrained, and ‘‘female,’’ while it idealizes English bodies as white, moderate, self-disciplined , and ‘‘male.’’ Forging identities was complicated by the fact that the ‘‘gender’’of some ‘‘English’’virtues was in flux. There was disagreement about whether identity was fixed or elastic; moreover, England’s nonaristocrats, encouraged by their prosperity, manipulated the signifiers of identity. The least useful part of Performing Identities is Chapter Two, because its central argument—that late-seventeenthcentury English plays about imperialism identified English men as ‘‘the ‘appropriate ’ imperialists’’—has already been made by Heidi Hutner in her Colonial Women (2001), reviewed below on p. 187; sheexamineseveryEnglishplaythat Ms. Lowenthal considers, from a similar theoretical perspective, and reaches virtually the same conclusions on the strength of greater evidence. Chapter Three shows that foreign male characters were depicted as grotesque and comical in order to define ‘‘Englishness .’’Plays by Behn, Wycherley, andPix reveal that all define the appropriate imperial identity as English masculinity, the virtues of which (restraint, reason, reflection ) were increasingly considered ‘‘female’’ by English culture. Examining the interrelation of gender and class identity, Ms. Lowenthal, in perhaps the strongest section of her book, focuses on the lives of two famous, late seventeenth-century actresses in Behn’s The Rover and Manley’s The Royal Mischief . Ms. Lowenthal explores three interconnecting discourses: 1) how Barry 187 and Bracegirdle’s bodies were ‘‘read’’on and off stage; 2) how female identity, which was ‘‘inextricably linked to the body,’’ related to female desire; and 3) what extra-theatrical discourses implied about women. Cultural identity is defined by ‘‘monsters ,’’ including giants, dwarfs, crossdressers , rapists, and their victims. Behn, Shadwell, and Nicholas Brady, in The Rape (1692), fulfilled the increasing demand for such figures, particularly raped women. More important, the monsters depicted in Pix’s Ibrahim and Manley’s Almyna fashion ‘‘a new, female heroic,’’ an ‘‘antithesis of the malevolentmonsters of violent sexual assault.’’ In writing about monsters that ‘‘breach boundaries, commit transgressions, and define the culture’s limits,’’ Pix and Manley made themselves into ‘‘monsters’’ in order to combat rape and the prurient commercial exploitation of it. Depictions of high-born, foreign, tragic characters influenced and were influenced by changing attitudes about race, gender, and national identity. Orrery’s characters in Mustapha are worthy ofemulation . Those in Behn’s Abdelazer and Dryden’s Don Sebastian are flawed, excessive , and grotesque. Dignified and princely, the titlecharacterofSoutherne’s Oroonoko must die because a noble black man...