English Renaissance Drama (Blackwell Guides to Literature) by Peter Womack

By Peter Womack

The ebook considers the London theatrical tradition which took form within the 1570s and got here to an lead to 1642.

  • Places emphasis on these performs which are available in glossy variants and will occasionally to be obvious in smooth productions, together with Shakespeare.
  • Provides scholars with the ancient, literary and theatrical contexts they should make feel of Renaissance drama.
  • Includes a sequence of brief biographies of playwrights in this period.
  • Features shut analyses of greater than 20 performs, each one of which attracts realization to what makes a selected play fascinating and identifies appropriate serious questions.
  • Examines early sleek drama by way of its attribute activities, resembling cuckolding, flattering, swaggering, going mad, and emerging from the dead.

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The merger was a function of growth. London was already many times bigger than any of the provincial towns, and was expanding faster as well. This increase was not inherent: the conditions of urban living were not conducive either to fertility or to longevity, and in particular, the population was decimated every few years by bubonic plague. Rather, it reflected a steady flow of immigration from the rest of the country. This affected every social class, from the top, where provincial aristocrats reacted to political centralization by investing in town houses, to the bottom, where London’s economic expansion (together with a disastrous long-term fall in real wages) pulled in the landless poor in search of work.

There are quite large pieces of furniture or even landscape that can be pushed on for occasional scenes, but their function is not to provide a vivid sense of place; rather, again, they are generic and significant – the arbour, the banquet, the gallows. Whatever the scale, the objects, like the people, are not seen in their natural environment, but explicitly abstracted from it and displayed to the audience in the theatre. So the presentation is forcefully visual, but the visual order is discontinuous: things form not a joinedup scene, like objects arranged in a picture, but an articulated sequence, like words arranged in a message.

4 These very different spectators all watch in the same way. 4 The pamphlet is Thomas Nashe’s Pierce Penniless His Supplication to the Devil, in The Works of Thomas Nashe ed. R. B. 212; the eyewitness of Othello was Henry Jackson, whose letter is quoted in the Riverside Shakespeare, 40 th e stag e All three submit to the theatrical illusion; for all of them, it is as if the person the actor plays, long dead in reality, has been magically brought back to life by the performance. But equally, they are conscious that the place where these revenants walk is ‘apud nos’: our presence, our house.

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