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REVIEWS Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama: Critical Essays by Peter Ure. Edited by J. C. Maxwell. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1974. Pp. vi + 258. $16.50. The late Peter Ure was one of the finest of that generation of British literary scholars who came into prominence in the years just after the second world war. It was as a critic of the non-Shakespearean Elizabethan and Jacobean drama that he was perhaps best known, and to read again his essays on Chapman and Marston, Dekker and Heywood and Ford that are reprinted in Professor Maxwell’s collection of his work is to recognize their lasting importance. No one has written on Chapman as a tragic dramatist with greater critical sensitivity and scholarly authority than Ure did in his two essays, “The Main Outline of Chapman’s Byron” (1950) and “Chapman’s Tragedies” (1960). The relation of stoicism and tragedy was a subject that interested him, and a collection such as the present one makes for fascinating reading as one watches a highly perceptive critical intelligence trace out a philosophic pattern in the art of an age. Ure explored the implications of stoicism for tragedy not only in Chapman, but in his 1948 article on Marston’s Sophonisba, and in Ids 1950 essay on “Fulke Greville’s Dramatic Characters”; the subject is treated of as well in a 1951 piece on “ ‘Opinion’ in Daniel, Greville, and Chapman.” Chapman was obviously a favorite of Ure’s, and his comedy of The Widow’s Tears is treated (along with much else) in a wide-ranging essay of 1956 on “The Widow of Ephesus: Some Reflec­ tions on an International Comic Theme.” It is a measure of Ure’s range as a critic that he could move with equal ease among the works of philosophically sophisticated poetdramatists like Chapman and Greville, and the plays of more popular writers such as Heywood and Dekker. Ure’s essay on “Marriage and the Domestic Drama in Heywood and Ford” (1951) brings The Broken Heart into revealing and somewhat surprising relation with the tradition (moral and dramatic) which produced A Woman Killed with Kindness. Ford was the subject of another of Ure’s essays, “Cult and Initiates in Love’s Sacrifice" (1951); this has always been one of his most con­ troversial pieces, but a re-reading of it merely confirms what I have always felt: that it is essentially right in its assessment of Ford’s dramatic treatment of the Platonic love ethic and of Biancha’s role in the play as one who finds herself passionately committed in her relationhip with Fernando beyond anything that the rules of the game of Platonic love will allow. In his essay on Dekker (“Patient Madman and Honest Whore: the 171 172 Comparative Drama Middleton-Dekker oxymoron,” 1966), Ure was the first critic that I know of to consider the effect Dekker’s authorship of Blurt, Master Constable (which is certain in part, if not in whole) must have on the traditional impression students of literature have had of that dramatist. He may well, said Ure, referring to the Imperia scenes in Blurt, have been the dramatist “who started courtesan scenes [in Jacobean drama], ‘questionable’ scenes in which courtesans are depicted, with a certain bravura and loving concentration, running their households and clients.” And Ure proceeded in this essay to differentiate with precision and sensitivity the differing temperaments and styles of Dekker and Middleton and the effect of their respective comic manners on part one of The Honest Whore (where, unlike the majority of critics of that play, he was bold enough to recognize that Middleton does indeed have a share in it). The three essays on Shakespeare with which the volume opens date from 1961 and 1963 (the third, on Macbeth, is previously unpublished). They deal—as Ure’s essays on the non-Shakespearean tragic dramatists so often do—with the relation of inner and outer selves, the hero’s public role and the emergent self within the role which may or may not be in accord with it. The essay on “Shakespeare and the Inward Self of the Tragic Hero” (it was his inaugural lecture, delivered on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 171-172
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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