For all their pride in seeing this world clearly, the thinkers and artists of the English Renaissance were also fascinated by magic and the occult. The three greatest playwrights of the period devoted major plays (The Tempest, Doctor Faustus, The Alchemist) to magic, Francis Bacon often referred to it, and it was ever-present in the visual arts. In Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age John S. Mebane reevaluates the significance of occult philosophy in Renaissance thought and literature, constructing the most detailed historical context for his subject yet attempted.
Magic enjoyed a vigorous revival in sixteenth-century Europe, attaining a prestige lost for over a millennium and becoming, for some, a kind of universal philosophy. Renaissance music also suggested a form of universal knowledge through renewed interest in two ancient themes: the Pythagorean and Platonic "harmony of the celestial spheres" and the legendary effects of the music of bards like Orpheus, Arion, and David. In this climate, Renaissance philosophers drew many new and provocative connections between music and the occult sciences. In Music in Renaissance Magic, Gary Tomlinson describes some of these connections and offers a fresh view of the development of early modern thought in Italy. Raising issues essential to postmodern historiography—issues of cultural distance and our relationship to the others who inhabit our constructions of the past —Tomlinson provides a rich store of ideas for students of early modern culture, for musicologists, and for historians of philosophy, science, and religion. "A scholarly step toward a goal that many composers have aimed for: to rescue the idea of New Age Music—that music can promote spiritual well-being—from the New Ageists who have reduced it to a level of sonic wallpaper."—Kyle Gann, Village Voice "An exemplary piece of musical and intellectual history, of interest to all students of the Renaissance as well as musicologists. . . . The author deserves congratulations for introducing this new approach to the study of Renaissance music."—Peter Burke, NOTES "Gary Tomlinson's Music in Renaissance Magic: Toward a Historiography of Others examines the 'otherness' of magical cosmology. . . . [A] passionate, eloquently melancholy, and important book."—Anne Lake Prescott, Studies in English Literature
The themes of magic and the supernatural in medieval romance are here fully explored and put into the context of thinking at the time in this first full study of the subject.
This book provides a comprehensive introduction to Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline comedy, covering both public and private theatres, emphasizing the eclectic, experimental nature of this comedy--its departures from the mainstream New Comedy tradition and its searching, witty analysis of social and personal relations in court, city and country. In his close analysis of some of the richest comedies of the period, Alexander Leggatt makes some unexpected connections between them. The reader is given a comprehensive picture of English comedy in one of its most creative periods.
This collection of Northrop Frye's writings on Shakespeare and the Renaissance spans forty years of his career as a university teacher, public critic, and major theorist of literature and its cultural functions. Extensive annotations and an in-depth critical introduction demonstrate Frye's wide-ranging knowledge of Renaissance culture, the pivotal place of the Renaissance in his oeuvre, his impact on Renaissance criticism and on the Stratford Festival, and his continuing importance as a literary theorist. This volume brings together Frye's extensive writings on Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers (excluding Milton, who is featured in other volumes), and includes major articles, introductions, public lectures, and four previously published books on Shakespeare. Frye's insightful analyses offer not just a formidable knowledge of Renaissance culture but also a transformative experience, moving the reader imaginatively towards an experience of created reality.
This edition of Ben Jonson's four middle comedies places the works in the popular history and culture of the times, 1605-1614, and surveys the influences, both classical and contemporary, on Jonson as a playwright. On-the-page annotations recreate the audiences perception of the plays as performances by commenting on the stage-directions, the self-conscious theatricality of characters and scenes, and the vivid colloquialisms of early modern London that give the dialogue a heightened dimension of realism. Brief introductions to each play discuss the local settings, sources, theatre history and further readings. The general introduction includes a biography of Jonson, a chronology of the plays and masques, and separate essays on each play, dealing particularly with Jonson's satirical treatments of trends and shams of the day, whether political, social, commercial, or spiritual.
Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright is an important book which reassesses Shakespeare as a poet and dramatist. Patrick Cheney contests critical preoccupation with Shakespeare as 'a man of the theatre' by recovering his original standing as an early modern author: he is a working dramatist who composes some of the most extraordinary poems in English. The book accounts for this form of authorship by reconstructing the historical preconditions for its emergence, in England as in Europe, including the building of the commercial theatres and the consolidation of the printing press. Cheney traces the literary origin to Shakespeare's favourite author, Ovid, who wrote the Amores and Metamorphoses alongside the tragedy Medea. Cheney also examines Shakespeare's literary relations with his contemporary authors Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe. The book concentrates on Shakespeare's freestanding poems, but makes frequent reference to the plays, and ranges widely through the work of other Renaissance writers.
Shakespeare in London offers a lively and engaging new reading of some of Shakespeare's major work, informed by close attention to the language of his drama. The focus of the book is on Shakespeare's London, how it influenced his drama and how he represents it on stage. Taking readers on an imaginative journey through the city, the book moves both chronologically, from beginning to end of Shakespeare's dramatic career, and also geographically, traversing London from west to east. Each chapter focuses on one play and one key location, drawing out the thematic connections between that place and the drama it underwrites. Plays discussed in detail include Hamlet, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet. Close textual readings accompany the wealth of contextual material, providing a fresh and exciting way into Shakespeare's work.