Temporality, Genre and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare: Forms of Time 9781350017290, 9781350017320, 9781350017306

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Temporality, Genre and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare: Forms of Time
 9781350017290, 9781350017320, 9781350017306

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Note on Texts
1. Introduction: Forms of Time
Part One: Illuminating
2. Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time
3. Suspense Revisited: The Shared Experience of Time
4. ‘In the Course and Process of Time’: Rupture, Reflection and Repetition in Henry VIII
Part Two: Synthesizing
5. Is Henry V Still a History Play?
6. Allusion, Temporality and Genre in Troilus and Cressida and Pericles
Part Three: Misaligning
7. Love’s Labour’s Lost and the Layered Temporality of Poetic Reception
8. Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Genre, Style and Performance
9. Time, Tragedy and the Text of Antony and Cleopatra
Part Four: Proliferating
10. ‘The Death of Fathers’: Succession and Diachronic Time in Shakespearean Tragedy
11. Passionate Time in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam
12. Future Histories in King Lear
Part Five: Pleating
13. From Last Judgement to Leviathan: The Semiotics of Collective Temporality in Early Modern England
14. Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time

Citation preview

Temporality, Genre and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare

Related Titles Stage Directions and the Shakespearean Theatre, edited by Sarah Dustagheer and Gillian Woods Shakespeare’s Pictures, Keir Elam Broadcast Your Shakespeare, edited by Stephen O’Neill Shakespeare’s Artists, B.J. Sokol Playing Indoors: Staging Early Modern Drama in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Will Tosh

Temporality, Genre and Experience in the Age of Shakespeare Forms of Time Edited by Lauren Shohet

THE ARDEN SHAKESPEARE Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, THE ARDEN SHAKESPEARE and the Arden Shakespeare logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2018 Paperback edition first published 2019 Copyright © Lauren Shohet and contributors, 2018 Lauren Shohet has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as editor of this work. Cover design: Irene Martinez Costa Cover image: A Dance to the Music of Time © The Wallace Collection All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-350-01729-0 PB: 978-1-3501-2655-8 ePDF: 978-1-350-01730-6 eBook: 978-1-350-01731-3 Typeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

For Phoebe, who is teaching me about time


List of Illustrations  x Notes on Contributors  xii Acknowledgements  xv Note on Texts  xvi

1 Introduction: Forms of Time  Lauren Shohet


Part One: Illuminating 2 Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time  Kent Cartwright


3 Suspense Revisited: The Shared Experience of Time  43 Raphael Falco 4 ‘In the Course and Process of Time’: Rupture, Reflection and Repetition in Henry VIII  57 Philip Lorenz

Part Two: Synthesizing 5 Is Henry V Still a History Play?  Andrew Griffin




6 Allusion, Temporality and Genre in Troilus and Cressida and Pericles  97 Lauren Shohet

Part Three: Misaligning 7 Love’s Labour’s Lost and the Layered Temporality of Poetic Reception  123 Matthew Harrison 8 Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Genre, Style and Performance  141 Lucy Munro 9 Time, Tragedy and the Text of Antony and Cleopatra  157 Rebecca Bushnell

Part Four: Proliferating 10 ‘The Death of Fathers’: Succession and Diachronic Time in Shakespearean Tragedy  173 William C. Carroll 11 Passionate Time in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam  189 Lara Dodds 12 Future Histories in King Lear  Meredith Beales




Part Five: Pleating 13 From Last Judgement to Leviathan: The Semiotics of Collective Temporality in Early Modern England  223 Robin S. Stewart 14 Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time  Valerie Wayne Notes  261 Index  313


LIST OF Figures

1.1 4.1 6.1 9.1



Schema of archetypes 12 Hans Holbein, Thomas More with collar of esses (1527) (© The Frick Collection) 72 Title page, The Painfull Adventures of Pericles, Prince of Tyre ([1608], 1857) (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library) 102 Act One, Scene Two in Antony and Cleopatra, Nicholas Rowe, ed., The Works of William Shakespear in Six Volumes Adorn’d with Cuts: Vol. 6 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1709), 2665 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania) 165 Act One, Scene Two in Antony and Cleopatra, Alexander Pope, ed., The Works of Shakespear: In Six Volumes: Volume 5 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1725), 309 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania) 167 Act One, Scene Three in Antony and Cleopatra, Alexander Pope, ed., The Works of Shakespear: In Six Volumes: Volume 5 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1725), 312 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of 168 Pennsylvania)

LIST OF Figures


13.1 Hans Memling, The Last Judgment (c. 1460–9) Pomorskie Museum, Gdansk (© 2017, Photo Scala, Florence) 228 13.2 Luca Signorelli, Preaching and Deeds of the Antichrist (c. 1499–1504) Duomo, Orvieto (© 2017, Photo Scala, Florence/courtesy of Opera del Duomo of Orvieto) 231 13.3 Detail from Luca Signorelli, Preaching and Deeds of the Antichrist 232 13.4 Philipp Melanchthon, Passional Christi und Antichristi ([1521], 1885) (courtesy of Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg) 234–5 13.5 Title page of John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1583) (STC 11225, Houghton Library, Harvard University) 238 13.6 Frontispiece of Hobbes’ De cive, by Jean Matheus (1642) (*EC65 H6525 642e, Houghton Library, Harvard University) 242 13.7 Frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan, by Abraham Bosse (1651) (*AC85.J2376.Zz651h, Houghton Library, Harvard University) 244 14.1 ‘Coins of the Britains’, William Camden, Britain (1610) (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library) 251 14.2 Janus gate at Temple Bar, Ben Jonson, Kings Entertainment (1604) (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library) 252

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS Meredith Beales is completing a monograph on early modern medievalism and the place of British antiquity on the Tudor and Stuart stage; her essay in the present collection is part of a longer chapter on King Lear. She is currently teaching at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Rebecca Bushnell is the School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written books on many different subjects, including prophecy in Homer and Sophocles, Renaissance tyrant plays, early modern humanist pedagogy, early English gardening books and the genre of tragedy. Her most recent monograph is Tragic Time in Drama, Film, and Videogames: The Future in the Instant (2016). William C. Carroll is Professor of English at Boston University. He has published The Great Feast of Language in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’, The Metamorphoses of Shakespearean Comedy and Fat King, Lean Beggar: Representations of Poverty in the Age of Shakespeare. He has also published scholarly editions of Thomas Middleton (Women Beware Women and Thomas Middleton: Four Plays) and of Shakespeare (Macbeth: Texts and Contexts, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labour’s Lost). He is CoGeneral Editor of the New Mermaids series. Kent Cartwright is Professor of English at the University of Maryland and, most recently, editor of The Comedy of Errors, The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series (Bloomsbury/Arden, 2017). He is currently working on a book on Shakespeare’s comedies. Lara Dodds is Professor of English at Mississippi State University and the author of The Literary Invention of



Margaret Cavendish (2013). She has also published widely on Milton and on early modern women’s writing, in Milton Studies, English Literary Renaissance, Texas Studies in Literature and Language and elsewhere. Raphael Falco is a Professor of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he held the 2012–13 Lipitz Professorship of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He is the author of four books: Cultural Genealogy and Early Modern Myth (2017), Charisma and Myth (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2010; paperback 2012), Charismatic Authority in Early Modern English Tragedy (2000) and Conceived Presences: Literary Genealogy in Renaissance England (1994). Andrew Griffin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From his position in UCSB’s Early Modern Centre, he is also the Lead Editor of the EMC Imprint, a multimedia scholarly press. Matthew Harrison teaches at West Texas A & M University, where he is writing a book on ideas of bad poetry in early modern England. He has written on Spenser’s poetics, Hamlet video games and digital remediations of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Philip Lorenz teaches at Cornell University. He is author of The Tears of Sovereignty: Perspectives of Power in Renaissance Drama (2013). His current research examines the afterlife of sovereignty, as its representation moves from the symbolic body of the king into increasingly abstract forms, including public administration. Lucy Munro is a Reader in Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at King’s College London. Her research focuses on early modern drama, theatre history, textual editing, age studies, and genre and style. Her publications include Children of the Queen’s Revels: A Jacobean Theatre Repertory (2005) and Archaic Style in English Literature, 1590–1674 (2013).



Lauren Shohet is Professor of English at Villanova University. She is the author of Reading Masques: The English Court Masque and Public Culture in the Seventeenth Century (2010), co-­editor of the forthcoming Gathering Force: British Literature in Transition, 1557–1623, and author of articles on form, adaptation and the writing of Milton, Marvell and Shakespeare in Milton Studies, Shakespeare Survey, Poetics Today and other venues. Robin S. Stewart is a Lecturer in Humanities at the University of California-Irvine. In addition to articles on early modern drama forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies and the Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics, Stewart is currently working on a book project entitled Redeeming Time: The Political Theology of the English History Play, 1530–1630. Valerie Wayne is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Hawai´i at Maˉ noa She has edited Cymbeline for the Arden Shakespeare Third Series (Bloomsbury/Arden, 2017), Edmund Tilney’s The Flower of Friendship (1992) and A Trick to Catch the Old One for Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works (2007), for which she also served as Associate General Editor. Her essays have appeared in more than a dozen collections and in Shakespeare Quarterly and Shakespeare Studies.


The idea for this volume grew out of conversations at recent Shakespeare Association of America conferences, and all of the authors here who draw on those encounters are grateful to their organizers and participants. Villanova University provided a research assistant for this volume, and Rob McClung attended to all manner of details with care, imagination, energy and flexibility, staying with the project over its full evolution while attending to the demands of his own work. The Villanova subvention program and the Villanova English department supported Meg Davies’ exemplary work with the index. Sophia Richardson offered valuable suggestions on parts of the manuscript. Laura Tscherry graciously stepped in with mastery of Photoshop to render line drawings. Librarians at Duke University, Villanova University, Swarthmore College and the Folger Shakespeare Library were welcoming and helpful. Rebecca Bushnell, William Carroll, Kristen Poole and Scott Black engaged discussions about time, form and argument just when clarity was needed in evolution of the present project, and Scott Black read several entirely different versions of the introduction. Conversations over the years with Julian Yates and Katherine Rowe have left their mark on this volume’s questions. Robert Richardson enabled its timely completion by always finishing the dishes. At Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, Margaret Bartley’s discerning eye and Susan Furber’s patient practical support have been invaluable.

NOTE on texts

Unless otherwise noted, all references to Shakespeare’s works are to the respective Arden Third Series editions.

1 Introduction: Forms of Time Lauren Shohet

‘We cannot say what time is, because we know already, and our saying could never match up to all that we already know’.1 Philosopher John Lucas here captures half the fascination and the frustration of thinking about time. As mortals living in the workaday world, we know time intimately – but our profound imbrication in time at every moment makes time hard to contemplate analytically or articulate verbally. This brings us to the second difficulty of thinking about time, one that does not concern Lucas but is central to students of early modernity and of theatre: each of us may know time for ourselves, but what can we know of anyone else’s? We are not even always sure we know our own temporal experience across different moments (how could time have moved so slowly or so rapidly yesterday? What is the time of infancy, or senescence?) or whether we can meaningfully connect our own subjective time to ‘measured’ or ‘objective’ time. We can be even less confident about how time might appear to other people – not to mention


Temporality, Genre and Experience

to other species, to other orders of being, or to people living in other places and times. Shakespeare’s Prospero calls this mystery ‘the dark backward and abysm of time’ (1.2.50).2 Eliding any substantive for ‘backward’ to modify leaves the unbounded adjective reverberating in the ear and receding infinitely in the mind’s eye. Likewise, the phrase ‘abysm of time’ mind-­bendingly asks us to imagine time spatialized – and, even harder, as a space that is no-­space, a void. Prospero’s locution comes in the context of a quite different kind of time: the precise moment when a long-­developing possibility ripens. It comes, that is, in the Tempest’s first scene on Prospero’s island (or Caliban’s – it depends on your time frame), at the instant when ‘the hour’s now come’ (1.2.36), indeed, ‘the very minute’ (1.2.37), for Prospero to inform Miranda of their history: of how their past exceeds their present. According with the difficulty of knowing anyone else’s time, Prospero’s assumptions about Miranda’s past are incorrect: prospero

Canst thou remember A time before we came unto this cell? I do not think thou canst, for then thou wast not Out three years old. miranda        Certainly, sir, I can. prospero

By what? By any other house or person? Of any thing the image, tell me, that Hath kept with thy remembrance. miranda              ’Tis far off, And rather like a dream than an assurance That my remembrance warrants. Had I not Four or five women once, that tended me? prospero

Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. But how is it That this lives in thy mind? What sees thou else In the dark backward and abysm of time? (1.2.38–50)

Introduction: Forms of Time


Prospero must ask Miranda to redress his initial misapprehension of her experience, and the terms in which the conversation transpires are significant. Prospero requests that Miranda recount what she ‘sees’: he asks her, that is, to set out what inwardly ‘live[s] in [her] mind’, as if it were a spectacle. Miranda first views her own memories, then reports on them, conveying the images to Prospero (and to the theatrical audience). This delivers her subjective experience of the past into the moment that Prospero has appointed for airing it. Prospero’s recitation is likewise marked as theatrical by his fussy preoccupation with whether Miranda is listening to him (‘Dost thou attend me?’ [1.2.78]; ‘Thou attends’t not!’ [1.2.87]; ‘I pray thee, mark me’ [1.2.88]; ‘Dost thou hear?’ [1.2.106]), an unfounded worry that seems more keyed to a structural problem of theatrical attention than the present intimation of family history – whose particulars, the rapt Miranda assures Prospero, ‘would cure deafness’ (1.2.106). This scene sketches in miniature some affordances of theatre for thinking about time, which is the largest context of this volume’s undertaking. Against the challenges of interiority and potential solipsism, staging temporality can make subjective time available for shared consideration. In part, this capability is common to representational forms generally. Writing of narrative art, Mikhail Bakhtin asserts that representing time (and space) in ‘chronotopes’ ‘thickens’ time, such that it ‘takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible’.3 Discussing visual art, Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood write that the artwork is ‘made . . . at some moment, but also points . . . backward to a remote ancestral origin . . . or to a prior artifact, or to an origin outside of time, in divinity . . . and points forward to all its future recipients who will activate and reactivate it as a meaningful event’.4 The strong shared temporal component of theatre may make it a medium particularly suited for engaging temporality. Audiences as well as plays have a heightened awareness of temporal direction and boundedness as a drama unfolds, perhaps breaks for intervals, and is expected to conclude


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within a conventional number of hours. David Kastan further argues for a broader-­scale homology between theatrical timespan and the human lifeworld; the ‘radical temporality’ of drama can ‘present an image of the radical temporality of human existence’.5 Furthermore, as the above Tempest scene indicates, drama characteristically incorporates multiple time frames simultaneously. The ‘hour . . . the very minute’ of revelation, the backward reach of Prospero’s history, the proximate future of Prospero’s plot unfolding (which is the as-­ yet-hidden occasion for enlightening Miranda about their heritage), the longer dynastic future he hopes his plot will initiate – all these different timescales converge in a moment on the stage. This polychronous capacity of theatre, which The Tempest here sets out and which many of the essays in this volume address, has recently been of great interest in Shakespeare studies. In work important for many of our contributors, Matthew Wagner has argued for theatre, and particularly the Shakespearean theatre, as a distinctively ‘thick’ temporal medium, ‘wherein the present moment always bears the weight of past and future’.6 Wagner suggests that ‘time – multi-­faceted, dissonant, thick, material, present and elusive – is constitutive of the ways that meaning and sensation are generated in Shakespearean drama. Shakespeare . . . understood theatre as a temporal art, and his dramatic writing draws upon, and draws out, this understanding’.7 Wagner takes theatre’s multi-­ temporal self-­consciousness as heightened, following Husserl to suggest that daily life generally ‘occludes’ ‘the dimensional depth of the “now” ’ that theatre reveals.8 Wagner further suggests that ‘the necessities of everyday life’ ‘attenuate’ temporal ‘dissonance and thickness’ ‘to adhere to a smoother, more orderly – and more sociable – time’.9 Not everyone would agree with this. In foundational work theorizing polychronicity, Michel Serres presents multi-­ temporality as a recognizable condition of daily life. Unpacking his famous metaphor of time as a handkerchief that alters proximity and distance when crumpled for use (putting it in

Introduction: Forms of Time


one’s pocket) or ironed for show, Serres finds that ‘as we experience time . . . it resembles this crumpled version much more than the flat, overly simplified one’.10 We might, following Serres’ question ‘What time is it in my car?’, see the compressed expression of disparate time frames in quotidian experiences of temporal overlay: the eternal human patterns of morning awakening, the ancient technology of the bowl, the modern print newspaper, the post-­modern digital podcast, and the nonce vicissitudes of the household all coalescing as we begin the day. Furthermore, as scholars and teachers of early modernity are aware, we step into multi-­temporality at every encounter between our modern-­day selves and the artefacts and ideas that preoccupy us professionally. Turning our attention to, say, an early modern play ‘palimpsests’ (in Jonathan Gil Harris’s term) the moment of the play’s first writing, the most recent performance or interpretation the critic has encountered, and whatever intervening traditions accrued in that recent rendition.11 The disagreement between a Husserl-­inflected view and a Serres-­inflected position about whether theatre focuses attention on polychronicity in an exceptional or familiar way indicates how uncertain we can be about the phenomenology of time beyond our own experience. Claims that privilege theatre as a unique way to experience and investigate temporality are similarly contestable. Visual religious icons, too, might be said to draw their power from presenting the end-­time in the now-­time. And relics make past life present for devotion, materializing future hope in the process. Rather than assert the primacy of any one form for considering temporality, this volume searches out the operations of forms’ interventions in temporality, and conversely the transactional dynamics of temporality’s impact on forms, instead of taxonomizing or prioritizing forms and media. Taking a larger-­scale view of mutually shaping encounters that change the object of analysis in the process of their interactions, the essays attempt no exhaustive survey of kinds of forms and kinds of temporalities. Rather, we collectively delve into some exemplary case studies


Temporality, Genre and Experience

that, we hope, offer analytic models for future investigations of permutations unplumbed in the present study. Considering form and temporality as they articulate one another, this volume is committed to active models of both terms. Following the proposal that genre studies understand forms ‘more in terms of process than of template or taxonomy – more as action than as object’ – that is, how forms ‘form texts and how they form us’ – this volume thinks about not only ‘form’, but also ‘time’, as verbs.12 How does time form? And how does form time? Early modern vocabulary accords with this active sense of ‘form’: Rosalie Colie points out that ‘invention’ comprises ‘both “finding” and “making” ’, and we could add that ‘fictio’ likewise entails both ‘making’ and ‘making up’.13 In Chapter  5 of this volume, Andrew Griffin accordingly argues that we ask not what distinguishes a past sufficiently recent to sponsor a ‘history play’ from the more distant horizon yielding a ‘tragedy’ set in ancient times, but rather how history plays make that past: how they construct the connections to the present that create a sense of familiarity and relevance. The uncertainty, ineffability, multiplicity and activity of time make it difficult to ‘always historicize!’.14 Or at least they make it difficult to historicize by focusing solely on the material conditions or ideological formations of early modern England that for some decades counted as the privileged purview of criticism. New Historicism appeared at first blush to be concerned with temporality because it focused on the alterity of the past. New Historicism revealed wonderfully how mistaken presumptions about past experience can be when they fail to examine locally how categories (like ‘woman’ or ‘self’ or ‘love’) were constructed in early modernity. New Criticism had erroneously taken such notions as trans-­ historically legible, and New Historicism properly directed scholarly attention to the pastness of the past, a foreign country whose vocabulary demands attentive apprenticeship to avoid inappropriate assimilation to present understandings. But, as presentist critiques have articulated, New-Historicist analytic

Introduction: Forms of Time


protocols can occlude the temporality of the critic.15 To observe early modernity from a post-­modern perspective without acknowledging how the critic has been shaped by intervening time obscures our own situatedness. Failure to consider the time of the critic studying how the past is subjected to time does not, in the end, approach temporality cogently. New Historicism and Cultural Materialism frequently glossed over a venerable (that is, historical) concern of literary criticism that addresses (with unique purchase, this volume thinks) one of the most familiar forms of palimpsested time: genre. That is, when we engage a text with particular generic affiliations, we meet it both as a current instantiation of a formal possibility and as the product of all that went before it. Unpacking this encounter entails a different historicity than the studies of early modern subjectivity interested in synchronic socio-­political contexts (dinner parties at Cardinal Wolsey’s, the erotic dreams of Elizabeth’s subjects), or the histories of materials (vellum, feathers) that marked ensuing phases of historicist work. With the advent of ‘new formalism’ or ‘historical formalism’, literary studies are now in a position to supplement the time of the subject and the time of the thing.16 We are now in the time of the form, and that is the concern of this collection. This volume asks how temporality looks different when we emphasize form, and how forms look different when we emphasize time. We take ‘form’ capaciously, indicating genre, medium and forms of diverse kinds and scales. While individual essays delve rigorously into specifics of composition, the overall project takes a macro-­view of form and temporality in order to sketch broadly the kinds of temporal work that forms do, and the kinds of formal work that temporalities do. Our ‘forms’ thus include media (print, paint, metal, theatrical stage, words), genres (comedy, tragedy, history, romance), poetics (metre, rhyme, figure), social conventions (dynasty, courtship, marriage, mourning), historiography, soteriology and political theory. We take genre as ‘the matrix of conventions that make up not the context, outside, or prehistory of the work, but the


Temporality, Genre and Experience

very being of the work in time’, as Julia Reinhard Lupton says, and these essays frequently explore these forms colliding, or concurring, or transforming one another as they play out their being in time.17 Essays return most often, in various ways, to relations of page and stage, and of image (particularly in the paintings treated in Philip Lorenz’s and Robin S. Stewart’s explorations) to words. Conceding that critics as well as their objects of analysis are imbued with time – indeed, with multi-­temporality – reveals that the forms forming experiences of time include critical forms. How should that shape our analytic practice? Given that the essays in this collection maintain a commitment to approaching early modernity on its own terms (even if our own terms also shape the encounter), the absence of a comprehensive early modern vocabulary for the forms we study seems a significant barrier. Where is the taxonomy of dramatic kinds that explains why the First Folio lists Cymbeline among tragedies but The Winter’s Tale among comedies? Why are Troilus and Cressida and King Lear ‘tragedies’ in the folios but ‘histories’ in quarto? Why, in the Folio, are the tales of (relatively) recent British sovereigns ‘histories’, while the stories of older princes belong in ‘tragedies’ – which also include domestic tales like Romeo and Juliet? George Puttenham does offer some brief remarks on dramatic kinds: ‘thus have ye four sundry forms of poesy dramatic reprehensive, and put in execution by the feat and dexterity of man’s body, to wit: the satire, Old Comedy, New Comedy, and tragedy’.18 Equally briefly, he offers some history of staging conventions for plays about higher and lower orders of persons. Such gestures do not account for the shapes of plots, the patterns of themes and the kinds of characters that seem to subtend (if inconsistently) the genre categories tersely indicated in tables of contents or catalogues of print drama. John Fletcher sketches some ideas about genre based on the social status of characters and a risk-­assessment of plots. Comedy treats ‘familiar people, with such kinde of trouble as no life be questiond’; furthermore, tragedy can accommodate

Introduction: Forms of Time


gods, while comedy features ‘meane people’.19 Descriptions like Puttenham’s and Fletcher’s are brief, and thin, and scarce. Colie concludes that ‘it was not entirely obvious in the Renaissance what the genres of literature surely were, nor yet how to identify them’.20 Nor do Renaissance writers offer explicit discussions of how genres might be considered across media; the most frequent conversations about aesthetic questions of this kind come in the paragone, the topos of competing art forms, that competitively asserts distinctions more often than it describes relations.21 However, as readers of Robin Stewart’s and Philip Lorenz’s essays in this volume will recognize, visual and dramatic forms clearly can take up the same problematic (here, of theology and time) in ways that repay analysis now, and seem very like to have stimulated common contemplation in the past as well. The widespread temporal roots of our experience – not only in their moments of first production, but in other time frames as well – authorize a temporally capacious approach to defining our terms. We can begin a discussion of dramatic genres by looking to early modern nomenclature, but need not be limited by that single time frame. (But ‘single’ is deceptive: Renaissance discussions of drama focus prominently on Classical practice, so that even this starting point is temporally thickened.) The early modern designations of ‘tragedy’ and ‘comedy’ seem relatively unproblematic (leaving aside for the moment the undermotivatedly bad ends of some peripheral characters in the comedies) and diegetically driven (unlike in Aristotle, where the characters’ conduct in relation to the historical present is decisive: ‘the one would make its personages worse, and the other better, than the men of the present day’).22 Mixed-­genre pastorals and what come to be called romances are newly designated in the seventeenth century as ‘tragi-­ comedy’. Fletcher remarks the innovation in a testy preface to The Faithfull Shepherdess (1610), instructing readers either to set aside the play or to pay attention to his explanation of its purposeful novelty: ‘If you are not reasonably assurde


Temporality, Genre and Experience

in this kinde of Poem, lay downe the booke or read this’.23 This preface ascribes the play’s poor theatrical reception to the audience’s ignorance of the genre, and describes to readers what they should expect. Fletcher interestingly defines tragicomedy for what it declines to represent more than what it offers: ‘a tragie-­comedie is not so called in respect of mirth and killing, but in respect it wants deaths, which is inough to make it no tragedie, yet brings some neere it, which is inough to make it no comedie’.24 Perhaps the largest point about early modern genre designations, then, is that they were not seen as particularly important. In Hamlet, when the travelling players arrive at Elsinore, Polonius parodies overscrupulous genre demarcation in praising these ‘best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-­comical, historical-­pastoral, pastoral, tragical-­historical, tragical-­comical historical-­pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited’.25 Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, among others, ascribe many apparent anomalies in genre designations to print-­shop convenience. While David Bevington sees ‘generic indeterminacy’ in Troilus and Cressida’s absence from the First Folio’s generically sorted Table of Contents, and the subsequent positioning of its text in the collection (‘the evidently last-­minute decision to insert the play in an anomalous location between the histories and the tragedies appears to underscore the play’s generic indeterminacy’), Orgel and Braunmuller suggest instead that the division of plays in the Folio ‘seems to have constituted more a convenience than a critical judgment, allowing for a roughly equal number of pages for each section. Cymbeline and Troilus and Cressida most likely became tragedies because otherwise there would have been too many comedies’.26 To concede that consistently or rigorously designating dramatic kinds was not a priority of early modern dramatic culture is not to say that the constellations of common diegetic arcs, ritualized transformations, and character types that later eras use to understand genre were insignificant. Indeed, many if not most of the essays in this volume show how plays

Introduction: Forms of Time


engage with others of their kind in a way that suggests generic self-­consciousness. This meta-­dramatic richness produces effects that work through systems of what we would call comedy, tragedy, satire and so forth, even if those terms were not used as frequently or consistently in early modernity as they eventually came to be. The early modern plasticity of label may have been salutary in allowing for free interplay of forms – yielding wonderfully complex works, and particularly ripe material for investigations such as the present project. If rigorous or stable genre markers are anachronistic to early modern theatre, one of the deepest genre systems that developed since then, archetypal criticism, can seem equally out of step with our current historicist commitments. However, one aim of this collection is to suggest that old-­fashionedsounding genre criticism can be usefully integrated into historicist, politico-­theological and polychronous approaches. The point here is not to return to an earlier critical age, but rather to bring together the large-­scale view of time characteristic of archetypal criticism with the vast archives of minute historical detail that recent work has opened to us. Since archetypal theory distinguishes genres in part by how they engage time, Northrop Frye offers an important resource for this volume’s efforts (and this is taken up explicitly in essays by Kent Cartwright, William Carroll and myself). Although some of Frye’s locutions distance his thinking from a historically invested critical practice (he refers to a ‘self-­ contained literary universe’ and is interested in ‘symbols of things common to all men’), Frye also understands the ‘archetypal function of literature’ as shaping human perception in ways that yield access to historical experience.27 Archetypes, that is, organize what we see as ‘the genuine form of the world’, and if Frye’s interest was not in exploring how that ‘seeing’ was historically situated, that does not disallow using his insights while also posing historically informed questions.28 The schema in Figure 1.1 synthesizes Frye’s understanding of generic archetypes.29


Temporality, Genre and Experience

FIGURE 1.1  Schema of archetypes

This shows how we might imagine comedy, tragedy and romance all caught and released at different points on Fortune’s perpetually revolving wheel. ‘Comedy’ names the segment carrying a protagonist from lesser fortunes to greater (closer to heaven); when the protagonist’s condition worsens over the course of the play, we have tragedy. Both the amount of time a drama rides the wheel and the points where it alights and descends determine its generic profile. The distinction between comedy and tragedy depends both upon the spectator’s focus (on Olivia or on Malvolio, for example) and upon the temporal scope treated in the play. A work that began with Malvolio’s first appearance, then followed him through his rise and peripety of fortune to descend into his imprisonment and then dwelt there with him would be tragic. The extant Twelfth Night is a comedy because it makes Malvolio peripheral, not only by focusing attention on other characters, but also by centring the slice of time it represents on these other figures. Shylock can be assimilated to the comedy of Merchant of Venice because the play does not linger on Shylock after his fall; adaptations that take Shylock as their protagonist not only shift the amount of stage time granted him, but also remain with him as his point on the

Introduction: Forms of Time


wheel descends into tragedy. Romeo and Juliet would be a comedy if the play ended earlier; it could be a romance if it hung on long enough after the lovers’ deaths to see them resurrected in heaven (as Chaucer does with his Troilus). Pericles’ lengthy mourning or Leontes’ long penance would yield tragedies instead of romances if either Pericles or The Winter’s Tale ended only a few scenes earlier, before a little more time had unfolded. The Winter’s Tale’s allowing Mamillius and Antigonus to die, a difficult loss for many secular audiences and critics to accept, accords with romance’s attunement to the full providential unfolding of time, in which context these two characters depart the mortal world only a few years before their fellows. The nature of time, the protagonist’s degree of agency and the extent of the resolution at the end of the drama vary according to a tale’s vertical position in this archetypal scheme. Near the equatorial line of mimesis, where characters are roughly as subject to fate and fortune as we find ourselves in everyday life, time unfolds according to familiar natural cycles. In the comedic hemisphere, stories near this line emphasize blossoming, ripening and birth; tragic dramas at this level foreground desiccation, decay and death. Comedies end time by opening into the future. The reach of that future and the scope of its community vary according to mood (indicated on the vertical axis that extends from hell through earth to heaven). Comedic stories close to the mimetic level deliver their characters into happy everyday lives, where they will marry, have children and govern their households. Higher, romance versions expand the future, eventually into infinity, as their increasingly divine protagonists effect comedic transformation with ever-­larger stakes: making entire realms fertile, magically reversing decay and eventually turning mortals into gods (with the Resurrection as the endpoint). Comedies below the mimetic level shrink transformation to mere laughter, enjoyed by a diminishing community for a briefer time, as the mood descends to satire. In the tragic hemisphere, mimetic-­level tragedies end with natural loss:


Temporality, Genre and Experience

individual departure or death around which the survivors unite, in a future that arrives without undue acceleration or delay. In higher tragedy, an increasingly innocent pharmakon is sacrificed for increasingly large and temporally open-­ended communal transformation (culminating in the Passion). As tragedy descends, an increasingly culpable protagonist is purged, from a diminishing community that is little changed by what has happened (at least for the community within the drama; when effective, satire inspires healing in the larger society that observes and is corrected by it). When either comedy or tragedy approaches romance, their affects coalesce towards awe, and patterns of time become expansive. The Gentlemen glossing the romance resolution of The Winter’s Tale invoke the best of times and the worst of times almost appositively: ‘a world ransomed, or one destroyed’, with either indifferently producing ‘a notable passion of wonder’.30 Conversely, as tragedy and comedy descend to satire, they converge to ossify in perdition. At the bitter end of Troilus and Cressida, Pandarus’s address to prostitutes evokes titters (the publisher’s preface to the 1609 quarto describes the play as ‘passing full of the palm comical’), and where higher drama ends with invitations to communal applause, Pandarus ends Troilus and Cressida by offering the audience to ‘bequeath you my diseases’ (TC 5.11.56).31 Infection and unkind laughter coalesce as comedy and tragedy meet in hell. Thinking about form according to these large patterns is not inherently ahistorical, as New Historicism sometimes implied. For one thing, large sweeps themselves register historical change, if at a very broad range. Helen Cooper describes, for instance, how the ‘great age of faith’ transforms the archetypal wheel from ‘representing either chance, or . . . divine retribution, [to instead] invoke the movement of providence, the turning of all action in the world toward final good, atoning together’.32 Second, generic patterns offer a kind of history to which early moderns themselves were deeply attuned. Scott Black calls material and political questions ‘our past’: the past of categories we privilege in the present day. By

Introduction: Forms of Time


contrast, granting ‘history . . . its past[,] by pulling back the range of critical focus’ shows ‘the long literary context and the deep structure expressed in the contingent particulars of mimetic verisimilitude that are the concerns of historicist criticism’.33 The persistence of deep structures below the critical radar helps to account for some currently under-­ articulated feelings about genre. There are some things ‘we’ ‘know’ about genre that don’t line up with our passion to ‘always historicize!’. Consider for instance Orgel and Braunmuller’s confident remark, made in passing, that ‘if the folio had included a genre of tragicomedy, [Cymbeline] would surely have gone there; but so would a number of other plays: both The Winter’s Tale and Pericles, but also Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, and perhaps even Much Ado About Nothing’.34 Orgel and Braunmuller do not spell out what these plays have in common with one another, or how this separates them from those not included, although it is not obvious to all readers why this selection makes a coherent class. They apparently don’t feel the need. Perhaps this is because genre is in part something we feel, with remarkable persistence. This is not to say that genre is ineffable, but rather that the long history of stories and the long history of ways to think about those stories make a thick, polychronous bedrock that is only partially eroded by archivally based knowledge (such as the absence of the marker ‘romance’ from early modern play descriptions). Romance may be the most prominent category that Shakespeareans continue to find useful despite its anachronism; it remains, for instance, a subhead in the Riverside Shakespeare Table of Contents.35 The nineteenth-­century critic Edward Dowden invented Shakespearean ‘romance’ as a category to encompass Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. What joined these plays for Dowden was a ‘grave beauty, a sweet serenity, which . . . render the name “comedies” inappropriate’.36 For readers attuned to narrative romance, Dowden’s exalted notion of the genre is jarring. ‘Romance’ is what Autolycus passes off in scraps of ballads; it is a wildly


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popular, suspiciously woman-­pleasing page-­turner of a genre, with many of the same connotations that mass-­marketpaperback ‘romances’ carry today.37 On the other hand, as indicated in Figure  1.1, Frye uses ‘romance’ to mark the elevated realm of apotheosis, where Thaisa returns from her casket and Giulio Romano’s freshly painted statue of Hermione comes to life. The apparent contradiction between cheap pleasure and solemn redemption points to differences among historical understandings of forms. In Heliodorus, in morality plays, in fairy tales, what is mythically elevated is also what is common. Enthralling nobles, children, and the illiterate alike, adventure stories that end in enchantment and transfiguration entrance the broadest possible audience. Hence, in The Winter’s Tale, sounding like an ‘old tale’ counters credibility (‘This news, which is called true, is so like an old tale that the verity of it is in strong suspicion’ [TWT 5.2.27–29]), but also expresses the deepest truths, of families reunited and transgressions absolved. Looking briefly at time and genre in The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale – the first and last ‘comedies’ in the Folio Table of Contents, both considered ‘romances’ from the time of Dowden at least through the ascendance of historicist bibliography – shows what unites and what divides these dramas. The two plays are similar in their tragi-­comic plots: daughters are lost and returned; family continuity is disrupted and recovered; death is reversed; communities celebrate festively. Both plays invoke the wide variety of time frames characteristic of romance: natural, generational, political and supernatural. The Tempest determinedly aligns these time frames. It concludes with Miranda and Ferdinand departing for their new kingdom, Ariel leaving Prospero forever and the no-­longer-magical Prospero remaining with his ‘thing of darkness’, Caliban (5.1.275). The play evokes the natural cycles of calm succeeding storm, the chronological duration of indenture, the (putative) transformation of (ostensibly) drowned bones into ‘pearls’ and ‘coral’, the dynastic procreation of reunited families. But, with metatheatrical brusqueness,

Introduction: Forms of Time


Prospero is always on about the clock, the hour, the minute, the difficulties of putting on a masque at the same time he’s containing an insurrection, and the requirement that all this mystical business be concluded by final-­curtain time. ‘The time ’twixt six and now / Must by us both be spent most preciously’ (12.240–1), he admonishes Ariel, and Ariel assures Prospero in turn, as the last act opens, that the playhouse is in order: the day is ‘On the sixth hour, at which time, my lord, / You said our work should cease’ (5.1.4–5). The coincidence of The Tempest’s staged action with its playing time in the theatre perfectly aligns two potentially disparate chronotopes, flattening the represented magic into everyday experience (even if that experience is admirably ornamented by theatre professionals).38 Prospero does not seem to properly possess magic even before he abjures it – his power is to direct his special-­effects expert Ariel – so breaking his staff relinquishes an instrument more than it transforms a mage into a mortal. The Tempest stages ritual as theatre. Prospero may be a magically adept theatrical producer, but that is all he is. When the play is over, audiences have seen transformation, not been transformed. The Winter’s Tale instead emphasizes the non-­coincidence of time frames, insisting that some are intractably incompatible. This highlights the wonder of temporal transcendence. The Winter’s Tale’s evocations of mismatched subjective time in the first act create some of the most moving of Shakespearean misunderstandings. Leontes wavers between the time of long-­ ago memory (his boyhood with Polixenes, when they were ‘Two lads that thought there was no more behind / But such a day to-­morrow as to-­day, / And to be boy eternal’ [1.2.64]), the more recent time frame of his entry into heterosexual social relations (when ‘Three crabbed months had sour’d themselves to death’ [1.2.101] as he awaited Hermione’s response to his marriage proposal) and the present ‘nine changes of the watery star’ of his wife’s pregnancy (1.2.1). From these out-­of-joint temporal experiences, Leontes conceives in a split second the jealous delusion that will have sixteen-­year consequences for many in his court, and eternal ones for Mamillius and


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Antigonus. The awkward, impassioned, frighteningly intense experiences of time at the Sicilian court are captured in Hermione’s unidiomatically temporal attestation of love: ‘Leontes / I love thee not a jar o’ th’ clock behind / What lady she her lord’ (1.1.43–4). Christopher Wheeldon’s beautiful ballet version of the play, staged at the Royal Opera House in 2014 and 2016, portrays the mismatched time frames of paranoid delusion with sequences that freeze the courtly characters while Leontes continues to slink among them; Leontes’s jealous fantasies come to motion under distinctive lighting, acting out his fears by dynamically generating whole sequences from time interior to Leontes, while time stops for the other characters, suspended among decorative statues. The Winter’s Tale comes to resemble a saint’s life or a morality play when it embraces artifice to keep its different timescales distinct where The Tempest blends them together. Typological interpretations, or the intervention of prophets in history, are meaningful because temporal distinction is crucially maintained: meaning comes in relating past and present, or present and future, which must remain recognizably intact for those relations to be forged. The Winter’s Tale, accordingly, makes no attempt to knit the play’s two halves naturalistically together. Instead, a personified Time enters, as matter-­of-fact as Bottom the Weaver, to announce the passage of sixteen years: ‘I that please some, try all: both joy and terror / Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error, / Now take upon me, in the name of Time, / To use my wings’ (4.1.1–4). This speech begins with jarringly irregular rhythm, particularly compared to the habits of other choric arrangers of time (such as Pericles’ Gower, who deploys perfectly regular iambic tetrameter to intone ‘To sing a song that old was sung / From ashes ancient Gower is come’39). In The Winter’s Tale, Time’s awkward bifurcation of the play underscores artifice – which also highlights the difference between supernatural grace and everyday life. The generic affiliations of the play with Christian drama make Paulina’s presentation of Hermione as a statue more than a contrivance. Hermione may have been

Introduction: Forms of Time


hidden in Paulina’s house for sixteen years – or her revival could well be a mystery. Or she could be both hidden alive in Paulina’s house and magically preserved as wood. For the logic of romance dwells in both/and, until great conclusory union. Hermione is dead; Hermione is risen, ‘again in breath’ (5.1.3). The Winter’s Tale thus enacts ritual in the theatre, creating and polychronically animating ‘this wide gap of time’ (5.3.154) (which is to say, mortal existence itself, as well as the sixteen years of Perdita’s Bohemian fostering), where The Tempest merely represents it. Audiences seldom weep at The Tempest, while The Winter’s Tale, like Pericles, can be deeply moving. This volume seeks to interrelate large-­scale and small-­scale aspects of both time and form. Such interrelation is, after all, how we experience both phenomena: we read a particular elegy or chant a particular protest slogan from a point of view informed by all the others we know; we pray a particular day’s order of worship from a position informed by our views of cosmic time. Caroline Levine has recently argued for the usefulness of cross-­reading large-­scale and small-­scale manifestations of broadly congruent structures for revealing the historical agency of form. Remarking that, for instance, ‘rhythmic forms and political intuitions both seek to control time’, Levine considers metre as a ‘social rhythm’, ‘not an epiphenomenal effect of social realities, but capable itself of exerting or transmitting power’.40 Giorgio Agamben makes a congruent proposal for relating a scale even larger than Levine’s ‘social realities’ to the micro-­form of rhyme. He considers how the cosmically scaled stakes of messianic time – the time when the messiah is known to be coming, but has not yet arrived – correspond to rhyme, which similarly governs interim parts of a verse through expectation of certain arrival.41 (I take up this question of metre and temporality in my consideration of Pericles’ Gower in Chapter 6 of this volume.) If pre-New-Historicist considerations of form and time – Frye’s archetypes, White’s metahistories or, for that matter,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Aristotle’s dramatic taxonomies – emphasize congruence between individual example and overarching paradigm, this collection also focuses on mismatch. Forms shape our encounters with time, but time always exceeds any form. Hence, these essays investigate misalignments among temporal scales, kinds and experiences. Polychronous thickening is only detectable if we attend to its layers; similarly, historical consciousness depends upon perceptible distinctions between past(s) and present. The agonizing ruptures of tragedy, the consoling syntheses of comedy and the teleological momentum of history all arise as their several forms process time in generically expected ways. But, as this volume’s essays will show, these generic habits always leave remainders and dissatisfactions and fugitives. Seeking both/and approaches to negotiating large-­scale formal momentum on the one hand, and local resistance or vicissitude on the other, the essays explore mismatches. Dynastic and individual time frames can prove at tragic odds (Carroll); print can seek to discipline theatrical time (Bushnell); characters’ understandings of dramatic arc can misalign (Dodds); eschatological and political models can jar (Lorenz); characters and audiences can find themselves productively out of step (Falco). Intentionally eclectic in methodology and touching down on a wide but not exhaustive range of artefacts, the essays collected here seek to illuminate the different kinds of meaning that come about through gaps as well as overlays, dissonance as well as resonance, between various models of time and various kinds of form. Nagel and Wood contend that early modern culture understands works of art as privileged executors of the ‘overall cultural project of time management’, offering ‘models of the time-­ bending operation’.42 This collection asks about the kinds of temporal work that forms, as agents of Nagel and Wood’s ‘cultural project’, can do. Our answers include the following: form can organize time, illuminate it, skew it, fracture it, crumple it, obscure it, align it, discipline it or be overcome by it. Because time so often manifests polychronically, and because

Introduction: Forms of Time


it exceeds every form, and because both time and form resist analytic hypostasis, none of these essays confines itself to a single model of time in relationship to a single kind of form. Nevertheless, it is possible to group our contributions according to the kinds of formal operations they foreground. Different sections of the book treat ways that form illuminates, synthesizes, misaligns, multiplies or pleats time. The essays by Kent Cartwright on comic time, Raphael Falco on theatrical suspense and Philip Lorenz on rupture, reflection and repetition in Henry VIII all analyse ways that dramatic forms illuminate time. These authors are concerned with both verbal and physical forms of theatrical space. Cartwright taxonomizes the legion techniques of Shakespearean comedy that draw attention to the ‘variable and contradictory’ nature of time. Falco explores dramatic techniques for setting the temporal experience of audiences and characters into dynamic relationship. He shows how dramatic forms engineer suspense through sharing information at different times with characters and audience members. This produces collectivity among the audience through the experience of ‘now’ and ‘soon’ that they share with one another. It also aligns the audience’s knowledge with the perspective of some characters but not others. The subject of Lorenz’s essay is far distant from Cartwright’s comedy: Lorenz’s Henry VIII is heavy with melancholy and angst. And Lorenz’s topic is the precise opposite of Falco’s suspense: Lorenz argues that Reformation-­ generated crises of sovereignty and faith saturate Henry VIII with the static inertia of the baroque Trauerspiel. But, like Cartwright and Falco, Lorenz shows how his text’s treatment of time produces particular formal requirements. All three essays analyse how specific formal choices (whether the entrances and exits of the Comedy of Errors [Cartwright], hiding Polonius behind the arras [Falco] or the serial tableaux of Henry VIII [Lorenz]) display how time works in problematics at the heart of their texts. Both Andrew Griffin’s essay on Henry V and my own essay on Troilus and Cressida and Pericles explore how form


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synthesizes time (or fails to). Griffin asks not what the ‘recent’ past was for early modern audiences, but rather how drama produces that particular form of history. He shows how history plays energize the disparity between theatrical immediacy and the history represented in the theatre to ‘encourage the past to enter into conversation with the present’. My essay analyses how the genres of satiric tragedy and tragi-­comic romance differentially refract drama’s relationship with literarily predetermined plots. I explore how models of repetition play out as exaltedly restorative in romance, repetitively sterile in satire. Where Griffin unpacks the formal apparatus for history plays to create a usable present, I investigate how Restoration revivals of Troilus and Cressida and Pericles sought to create a usable past. The chapters by Matthew Harrison on poetic styles on the stage, Lucy Munro on theatrical styles in Beaumont and Fletcher’s Knight of the Burning Pestle and Rebecca Bushnell on typographic style in Antony and Cleopatra all explore how temporalities can misalign to produce historical consciousness. As plays stage what’s ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘outmoded’ or ‘newfangled’ in the rapidly changing poetic world of the 1590s (Harrison) or the rapidly changing theatrical world of early-­seventeenth-century London (Munro), layers of time become visible for consideration. Where Harrison and Munro show the proliferation of time frames, Bushnell’s concern is the opposite: how eighteenth-­century editorial practice pares down Shakespearean multiplicity to curate a more disciplined, subdivided, ‘Roman’ temporality. The contributions of William C. Carroll on succession in Shakespearean tragedy, Lara Dodds on multiple temporalities in Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam and Meredith Beales on King Lear’s projection of the future all explore how temporalities proliferate. All treating tragedy, these three essays also share an interest in counterfactuality as a mode that can operate like a time frame. Pointing out how often tragedies repress succession’s dependence upon death – and the multiple versions of tragic time that constitute that repressed’s return – Carroll explores the mismatches between versions of succession that bracket or anodize the necessary death and the felt

Introduction: Forms of Time


psychology of traumatic loss that attends the occasion. Dodds suggests that Cary’s unusual form of neo-Senecan tragedy multiplies tragic temporalities. This proliferation produces moments of indeterminacy in gaps between time frames, allowing exploration of ‘affective counterfactuals’. Beales, also interested in counterfactuality, asks how early modern audiences understand Lear’s ‘future’ Britain. This projection is co-­temporal with the Britain of Shakespearean audiences, but the play’s prophecies are not identical with the history that actually has come to pass. Robin Stewart’s essay on eschatological iconography (in paintings by Hans Memling and Luca Signorelli and in woodcuts illustrating tracts of Melancthon, Foxe and Hobbes) and Valerie Wayne’s contribution on the multiple time frames of Cymbeline both explore how forms can pleat time. The times pleated in Stewart’s study are the now and the eternal; those in Wayne’s are not only Cymbeline’s ancient Britain and Renaissance Italy, but also the Jacobean London and North American New World of Shakespeare’s audiences. Stewart examines how changing understandings of the world’s end inflect early modern models of temporality, and how this interacts with the co-­incident temporalities of secularization. Suggesting that Shakespearean romances all ‘experiment with different ways of compacting temporal registers’, Wayne shows that romance logic provides a model for how ‘anticipated threat affects the present and how the past is re-­activated at a later time’. Some of the most energetic, protracted, complicated, and exhaustively recombined encounters of form and time come in the Sonnets. In the Sonnets’ war between time and form, who wins the skirmish that is Sonnet 126, ‘O thou my lovely Boy’? O thou, my lovely Boy, who in thy power Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sickle hour, Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st Thy lover’s withering, as thy sweet self grow’st; If nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back, She keeps thee to this purpose: that her skill May time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill. Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure: She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure! Her audit, though delayed, answered must be, And her quietus is to render thee. ( ) (


The symmetrical, potentially chiastic, invocation of time’s ‘fickle glass, his sickle hour’ draws on the ambiguities of ‘glass’ as ‘mirror’ and as ‘hourglass’, and of ‘hour’ as ‘hour’ or as ‘hourglass’, to suggest the myriad relations of form and time adumbrated in the rest of the sonnet (and in the present volume). All of possibilities are ‘held’ in the power of the lovely Boy, and that power is, among other things, the power to inspire poetry. The lines of the sonnet flow from this, eddying around all the ambiguous interrelationships of ‘glass’ and ‘hour’, each with their myriad semantic possibilities, filling the page . . . until they don’t. After line 12, there is no poeisis at all, just empty space. Pure form. That void speaks through the expectation set up through the previous 125 sonnets of this presently quiescent poet, of Petrarchan sonneteers before him, and – in the 1609 quarto – of the typographically supplied empty parentheses. The kernel of the poem, its post-­volta quintessence, is unsullied by content. But it is filled with time: the sudden loss of momentum as we read with expectations developed through 125 previous iterations of formalized rhythmic duration; the 300 years of sonnet sequences behind those; the human mortality the sonnets never leave behind; the perpetual effort to memorialize human transience in more than timely form. Sonnet 126’s last gesture might seem a withholding: a blank silence. We can take it, however, as an invitation to listen for what form can say about time.

PART one


2 Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time Kent Cartwright

Shakespearean comedy attends – thematically, structurally and kinesthetically – to time. In some respects, time may be more important in the comedies than in the tragedies or even the histories. The comedies represent time as variable and contradictory, plastic, both objective and subjective – rather like Shakespeare’s comic world itself. The comedies cultivate the spectator’s awareness of time, especially of the opposing claims of the urgent present and the fantasy of time-­indifference. We spend about half our lives immersed in quotidian experience, the other half in daydreams, according to modern psychology, a claim anticipated by Northrop Frye in his discussion of comedy.1 Shakespeare’s comedies recognize those dual lives and seek to explore our complicated temporal existences. To do so, they draw attention to time, as in the actors’ comic timing, or the characters’ repeated talk of time, or the convergence of past, present and future in certain moments. Further, they evoke dissonance from the clash of different experiences of time: dilated with compressed, generational with apocalyptic, romantic with farcical, urgent


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with festive or, in the endings, slow-­dawning wonder with hurried closure. Comic temporality is intensely felt yet conflicted and unstable, such that it raises for audiences the mystery of the fitness, or aptness, of an action to its time.2 Perhaps the most influential recent study of time in Shakespeare is Matthew D. Wagner’s Shakespeare, Time, and Theatre.3 Because theatre combines fictional time and real time, Wagner sees ‘theatrical time’ as providing ‘a unique temporal experience’.4 He singles out three aspects of time in Shakespeare: its dissonance, ‘thickness’ and materiality.5 With dissonance, Wagner has in mind the way that ‘theatre sharpens our awareness of different, often conflicting schemes of time’.6 With ‘thickness’, he attends to the special density with which the past, present and future are felt to be at work in dramatic figures and moments (far more than in prose fiction). With materiality, Wagner focuses on the way that time is made accessible to ‘the psychical . . . and the physical senses’, with attention to the representations of time in visual arts, timepieces and memento mori images.7 Wagner notes in passing the special interest that comedy generally takes in time, and he devotes a fine section to ‘suspended time’ in Twelfth Night.8 Shakespeare’s comedies employ all three of his aspects, and that range helps to account for the sense in these plays of time’s presence and plasticity. An obvious temporal dimension of Shakespearean (and perhaps all) comedy is comic timing, which plays out at the level of repartee, music and dance. In speech, comic actors must pay careful attention to rhythm and pacing. They will be required, for example, to find the exact moment – not too early, not too late – to interject their next line into a tennis match of wit, to master the pacing and rhythm of lines and speeches (since comedy emphasizes parallelisms and repetitions), or to disrupt that rhythm when appropriate with suspenseful pauses that engender laughter. A good example comes in the stichomythic exchange between Julia and Lucetta in Shakespeare’s possibly first comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, about Proteus’s love letter, written musically in rhyme

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


(1.2.79–89).9 Julia alleges that the missive was sent to Lucetta; the latter, accurately, returns the accusation. Their exchange (in iambic pentameter) quickens, moving from double lines for each speaker, to alternating single lines, to a shared line, to a short line (tetrameter at 88), with Julia’s growing anger climaxing in her striking of her servant (89). Each speaker proceeds by throwing back or twisting the meaning of a word from her opposite’s previous speech: ‘set’, ‘Light’, ‘heavy’, ‘burden’, ‘sing’. These music-­related terms, in Lucetta’s mouth, come loaded with provocatively sexual connotations. The actors’ success here depends on tempo and cadence. Despite the iambic rhythm, the pace accelerates as speakers respond sharply, with certain words working as perfectly timed interjections (‘Heavy?’) or receiving suggestive emphasis (perhaps with a pause). The challenge of comic timing is structured into the dialogue (with diction pointing up the musicality). The comedian’s body also gets involved. The importance of rhythm to comedy makes it the genre most hospitable to music and dance. In Twelfth Night, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Feste sing Malvolio out of countenance: ‘Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you?’ the steward rages (2.3.90–1). ‘We did keep time, sir, in our catches’ (92), responds Sir Toby, conflating festive time with counterpunctual timing in three-­ part singing. Musicality often marks off special moments in comedy, as if transporting the audience to a different emotional place. It accompanies Proteus’s wooing of Sylvia and disheartens the disguised Julia in Two Gentlemen (4.2); it precedes Benedick’s deception in the orchard in Much Ado About Nothing (2.3); it identifies the good-­natured, utopian world of Duke Senior’s party in As You Like It (e.g. 2.5); and, in the denouement of The Merchant of Venice, music is called forth with the hope that its ‘sweet power’ can soften hard hearts and perhaps draw the final action towards ‘harmony’ (5.1.79, 57). Not only does comedy sing, it also dances. Dancing concludes As You Like It and Much Ado; dance scenes occur within A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado, and a


Temporality, Genre and Experience

failed one in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Much Ado contains certain scenes with a dance-­like structure, including not only 2.1, the actual dance scene, but also 1.1, where different sets of characters step into the spotlight, speak and recede. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, besides its numerous references to specific dances and to dancing, the action takes a dance-­like shape, with two plot-lines pursued in alternating scenes, and, within each plot-­line, characters grouped as pairs.10 The mastery of comic timing extends also to more general choreography. Farcical plays like The Comedy of Errors are sometimes described as ‘door plays’, because they involve repeated near misses, with characters who seek one another but who are condemned to enter through a door at the perfectly timed instant when the other departs. Patterned comic timing includes the actor’s stage movement, as in Love’s Labour’s Lost, where the hilarity of the elaborate eavesdropping scene gathers momentum from the growing number of listeners who must dodge out of sight so as not to be spotted by a perambulating speaker or an entering one. Other deception scenes, such as those in Much Ado and Twelfth Night, likewise require comically timed movement and near misses. Of all the genres, comedy pays the most self-­conscious attention to timing in performance, and, for the audience, comedy’s sense of timing and rhythm distinguishes and heightens awareness, conscious or subconscious, of the artefact’s attention to temporality. The comedies express another kind of self-­consciousness about time through their unusual sensitivity to the rhythms of daily life. These plays refer to the time of day more often than the tragedies: mealtimes (especially), times of appointments, idling time, even trysting time and execution time.11 The sensual, festive dimension of comedy focuses on the pleasures of the body, so that nothing could be more distressing than being late for dinner: ‘The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit; / The clock hath strucken twelve upon the bell’, complains Ephesian Dromio to his tardy presumed master (CE 1.2.44–5). It is long past time to eat. More idly, in As You Like It, Touchstone marks the time, ‘It is ten o’clock’ (2.7.22), and

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proceeds to moralize upon the ripening and rotting of people by the hour. In the same play, Rosalind frets over Orlando’s failure to keep their appointment at two o’clock. Parolles, however, has time to kill: ‘Ten o’clock’, and he must wait out the night for at least ‘three hours’ while he pretends to recover his regiment’s lost drum (AW 4.1.24). The First Merchant in The Comedy of Errors rushes off for a business appointment but arranges to meet Syracusan Antipholus later ‘at five o’clock’, when he will consort with Antipholus until ‘bed-­time’ (1.2.26, 28). In that play, five o’clock is also the time when the goldsmith initially expects payment for his chain and when Egeon is scheduled for execution. In Measure for Measure, Claudio’s execution is set, we are told repeatedly, for four o’clock. In these last two comedies, the rhythms of life include its prospective termination (death is never far from the comedian’s door). Comedies express, too, the tedium of time: ‘my little body is aweary of this great world’, says Portia, who must wait out the time until she is chosen by a suitor (1.2.1–2). Theseus will need entertainment ‘To wear away this long age of three hours’ (MND 5.1.33), and even love sometimes appears as ‘tedious’ (e.g. TGV 1.1.31, MND 2.2.111). More often, the issue is urgency, which Shakespeare’s comedies typically make part of their structure. In The Comedy of Errors, the problem of completing the action within one day (the classical unity of time) becomes an aspect of the action, with all the plot-­strands poised to intersect at that fateful hour of five o’clock. In Errors, furthermore, the past history of the Egeon family, the present error-­filled day and the future prospects for love relationships all converge to give the finale ‘temporal “thickness” ’.12 Shakespearean comedy – perhaps all comedy – layers and thickens the experience of everyday time. In the comedies, forms of time can reflect sub-­genres or modes, such as romance and farce. One of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, The Comedy of Errors, instructively uses the conventions of both romance and farce, and with them the texture of different orders of time. The separation of the Egeon family and the father’s years of wandering to find his missing


Temporality, Genre and Experience

wife and children establish the romance motif of the first and last scenes, while the increasingly hurried actions of two sets of twins in a single day in Ephesus construct the conditions for farce. The romance elements that dot The Comedy of Errors echo Virgil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Odyssey and the medieval Apollonius of Tyre story.13 Romance time is long. Emilia has ‘travail[ed]’ for her lost family during a separation lasting ‘Thirty-­three years’ (5.1.401). When she and her husband finally meet, he has aged almost beyond recognition (he has become himself a materialization of Time, as we shall see). As this family story suggests, romance often involves the active endeavour to recover a lost time and the difficulty of doing so. Romance narratives are displaced in time, imprecise.14 They involve multiple plot-lines, simultaneous action and a sense of recursion from scenes whose structures are repeated (here romance and farce sometimes share a feature). Mirrored scenes and mirrored lines of action orchestrate The Comedy of Errors, and they are typical of Shakespeare’s comedies.15 Romance gives the experience of being lost or trapped in some temporal zone, somewhere more mythic than historical.16 It employs what Patricia Parker discusses as ‘dilation’, a speaking-­at-large that delays response, exemplified by Egeon’s speeches in the first scene of The Comedy of Errors, which not only prolong the juridical moment but also launch the delay of Egeon’s execution that will ultimately save his life.17 Falstaff’s copious wit-­displays in 1 Henry IV likewise possess a dilatory character, captivating the prince and delaying his exit from the tavern world. Farcical time differs from romance time in some respects and overlaps with it in others. Farce gives itself over to temporal urgency – slamming doors, running servants, fisticuffs and chase scenes.18 Petruchio’s wringing of Grumio’s ears over the latter’s confusion about ‘knock’ and ‘knock me here’ produces farcical physical comedy (TS 1.2.5–19). Like romance, farce involves repetition, but with added speed and mania. Errors, with its recursive scenes and actions – exorcisms, lock-­outs, a false denouement and a real one, multiple and conflicting explanations for the same events – showcases temporal repetitions in farce.

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


Farce typically entertains the fulfilment of illicit desires (sex, violence) in an unrealistic, dream-­like atmosphere. Here, time can feel compressed, as in The Comedy of Errors, where hours of fictional time transpire in minutes of real time (such urgency contrasts to comic festive time). Placed between the onrush of manic farcical time and the slow dilation of romance, the audience is left to wonder whether and when these systems of time and genre will make peace with one another. The conflict exemplifies ‘dissonance’, to recall Wagner’s terms. In addition to the modal or generic times of romance and farce, The Comedy of Errors introduces apocalyptic (or, more broadly, teleological or biblical) time, which implies its own kind of narrative. The play begins with Egeon responding to the death sentence against him by linking it with a metaphoric end-­time: ‘And by the doom of death end woes and all’ (1.1.2). In the ‘protracted, erring middle’ scenes of Errors, according to Parker, the ‘increasingly prominent biblical fragments begin to suggest analogies between the play’s delaying of its end and the delaying of the Doom or ultimate recognition scene of the Apocalypse’.19 The final scenes provide ‘echoes of the redemption accomplished within the deferred doom that is all of preapocalyptic history, in ways that link the dilation of the play with the space of reprieve before the end’.20 The apocalyptic dimension furthers the play’s quality of dilation and lends surprising biblical and cultural weight to this early comedy. Hints of the portentous occur in other early comedies and coalesce around the prospect of death. For Wagner, death in Shakespeare entails the recognition that past and future inhere in the present, becoming part of the characteristic thickness of time: ‘the idea that time and death are intrinsically interwoven forms a part of the temporal manifestations of the age’.21 Notwithstanding, the early comedies emphasize death as an aspect not only of time’s succession but also, as in Errors, of its almost cataclysmic cessation: ‘I will forget that Julia is alive’, says Proteus in Two Gentlemen, ‘Rememb’ring that my love to her is dead’ (2.6.27–8). In this figurative murder, Proteus would simply delete Julia from his memory. Further, the play,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

like Errors, links ‘death’ with ‘doom’ (see e.g. 3.1.184); ‘doom’ here refers to the sentence of banishment that the Duke imposes upon Valentine, but the word is laden with a darker sense of post-Armageddon end-­times (OED n. 6). For Valentine (like Romeo), separation from the beloved means the death of the world in which he lived and breathed and had his being. For him, there is no night or day without Sylvia; the world collapses, and ‘I leave to be’ (3.1.182). Such death is blunt, catastrophic, a personally felt apocalypse, with no suggestion of the continuation of life in others. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the King and his retinue will turn the court into ‘a little academe’ so that their fame will survive ‘cormorant devouring time’ (1.1.13, 4). These lusty youths would shape their lives in response to the prospect of Death’s keen-­edged scythe (1.1.6). Overall, the words ‘death’ and ‘dead’ are distributed among seven different characters (with twelve occurrences) and are sprinkled across the play, so that, even in the middle of festivity, they echo in our ears. In the character of Marcadé, of course, the figure of death famously materializes and walks into the last scene, collapsing the comedy and denying the triumph over death that the courtiers had undertaken. Such a sense of the imminent and catastrophic accounts for the poignancy of Feste’s song about time that closes Twelfth Night. Comedy in principle celebrates generational time, as in romance: the transference of the world from the old to the young, its happy continuity. Early in All’s Well, Lafeu says that the ailing king has abandoned his doctors in the belief that ‘he hath persecuted time with hope, and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope to time’ (1.1.14–16). Those are the conditions of tragedy that the play, with some struggle, will reverse. The eventual handing over of the world to a young, hopeful generation occurs explicitly or implicitly in Two Gentlemen, Errors, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It and All’s Well. Thus, the hint of time-­as-doom establishes creative tension within the overarching redemptive form and likewise a certain dissonance of experience for the audience. End-­time threatens comedy.

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


In comedy, as we have noted, the dominant mood of time is urgency. Even in the initially languorous Arden Forest, lovers finally become fed up with postponements: ‘I can live no longer by thinking’, says Orlando (AYL 5.2.50). Comedy ramps up the sense of external, temporal compulsion: ‘There is urgency, pressure, even at times panic . . . as a basic condition’ of stage comedy, observes Alexander Leggatt.22 Valentine must leave Sylvia and Milan instantly or suffer death; Egeon has one day to live; Lucentio needs to marry Bianca before his subterfuge collapses; the lords of Navarre appeal for the hands of the French ladies before they must suddenly depart; Hermia faces forced marriage or death unless she immediately flees Athens; Fenton has to spirit away Anne Page hastily in the confusion of the forest scene. The list might go on. The urgency of time points towards another feature of comedy, its focus on the immediate moment and the importance of grasping and enjoying it, especially in the springtime of youth and love.23 Much of the psychological tension of Twelfth Night derives from the play’s acute awareness of the fleeting pleasure of life: orsino  

For women are as roses, whose fair flower Being once display’d, doth fall that very hour. viola   And so they are: alas, that they are so: To die, even when they to perfection grow! (TN 2.4.38–41) The possibility of love and joy ebbs while Viola waits like Patience on a monument. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may; seize the day; do not waste your time in mourning because ‘care’s an enemy to life’ (TN 1.3.2). Feste captures this value perfectly: ‘What is love? ’Tis not hereafter, / Present mirth hath present laughter’ (TN 2.3.47–8). The death- and decay-­shrouded urgency of time in Twelfth Night makes inaction melancholy. Yet urgency seems in conflict with Shakespearean comedy’s characteristic creation of a special locale set apart within a


Temporality, Genre and Experience

play that operates in a time-­out-of-­time. Here time slows down. Falstaff’s tavern in Henry IV, Part 1 is such a place. Although King Henry can barely find a ‘time for frighted peace to pant’ (1.1.2), such pressures do not intrude upon the tavern: ‘What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day?’, Prince Hal asks of Falstaff (1.2.6), ‘Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-­houses . . .’ (1.2.7–9).24 In the tavern, characters idle the time away eating and drinking, joking, posturing, playacting and misbehaving; history must, almost literally, knock at the tavern door, as it does when the news of the Percy rebellion breaks up the tavern society and the play’s sense of pace changes (2.4). Likewise in As You Like It, Orlando instructs Rosalind, ‘there’s no clock in the forest’ (3.2.296–7). Instead, in this ‘desert inaccessible’, people ‘Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time’ (2.7.110, 112). Here urgency vanishes (at least at first). The characters of Arden Forest wander, contemplate, ‘moral on the time’ (2.7.29), meet, fall in love, post sonnets on trees, squabble, ‘fleet the time carelessly’ (1.1.114–15) and nap. (A good bit of the moralizing in Arden Forest is about time’s futility, as at 3.2.295–327.) The Forest seems of various eras – the time of the present, of ‘old Robin Hood of England’ (1.1.113), of Shakespeare’s boyhood, of a past or future utopia, of Eden, of mythic gods, of the ‘golden world’ (1.1.115) – but these associations play so against each other that the Forest is finally of no time exclusively. Notwithstanding, the atemporal places of Shakespeare’s comedies convey a temporal tone: nostalgia. That longing tone suggests a kind of teleology: one cannot linger here forever. In perhaps the most influential essay ever written on Shakespearean comedy, ‘The Argument of Comedy’, Northrop Frye introduced the notion of Shakespeare’s ‘green world’, associated with nature and folk ritual, to which the young lovers of romantic comedy retreat – an atemporal world.25 As exemplified in Two Gentlemen, ‘the action . . . begins in a world represented as a normal world, moves into the green

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


world, goes into a metamorphosis there in which the comic resolution is achieved, and returns to the normal world’.26 For Frye, comedy expresses summertime and the values of newness and birth associated with it. Although Frye’s focus is not on time exactly, he nevertheless sets the green world in opposition to the ‘world of history’ and describes it as a place where characters fleet the time.27 The green world practises Saturnalian inversions and recalls an ‘original golden age’.28 It is a place outside the laws of the ‘normal’, everyday world and its temporal cares. It reflects a longing for a time before time. Other critics have influentially explored places of temporal retreat within Shakespearean comedy. What Frye sees as the green world, C. L. Barber influentially reconceives as a place of holiday, associated with nature, springtime and the freeing power and pleasure of immediate experience, as in the blossoming natural world of As You Like It.29 François Laroque argues that time in the ‘popular’ (or ‘primitive’ or ‘traditional’) view was ‘a series of particular rhythms’ (sunrise and sunset, the movement of seasons) ‘and also a sequence of clearly cut contrasts’ (night and day, summer and winter, life and death); such is the vision of time that inheres in the festive dimension of Shakespeare’s comedies.30 That view sees time as discontinuous, uneven and cyclical, rather than regular and undifferentiated, and tends to represent time as ‘concrete and material’ and to ‘idealize the past’.31 Likewise, Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World theorizes the environment of ‘Carnival festivities’.32 These were recurrent events in the medieval year that featured spectacles and rituals of hierarchical inversions and laughter, effects that distinguished them sharply from ‘serious official, ecclesiastical, feudal, and political cult forms and ceremonials’.33 Carnival forms, periodically manifested, ‘offered a completely different, nonofficial, extraecclesiastical and extrapolitical aspect of the world, of man, and of human relations; they built a second world and a second life outside officialdom’.34 ‘Carnival’, says Bakhtin, ‘was the true feast of time, the feast of becoming, change, and renewal’.35 Consistent with Frye, Barber and Laroque, Bakhtin


Temporality, Genre and Experience

sees carnival feasts as ‘always essentially related to time, either to the recurrence of an event in the natural (cosmic) cycle, or to biological or historic timeliness’.36 These theorizations of withdrawal to an alternative location (or the psychic equivalent of that withdrawal) open up, for comedy, a profoundly resonant second world of complex, differentiated and even magical time. This world assumes an atemporal relation to the concerns of official organized society, responding to different rhythms. It is somatic, idealizing and nostalgic, and in those respects exerts a pull, even an agency, within a play. The comic world tends to discuss time explicitly. As we have noted, Touchstone ruminates on time’s ripening and rotting effect in As You Like It; likewise, Jacques famously outlines the ages of man. In The Comedy of Errors, Syracusan Antipholus and Dromio argue about whether or not there is a time for all things: a claim that is false in the hierarchical world (of Antipholus) but true in the festive one (of Dromio) (see 2.2). These self-­contained set-­piece discussions become themselves mini-­episodes of time-­out-of-­time. They create suspense as the play’s forward momentum is interrupted by a dilation, as here, a mise en abyme that refers to Errors’s own playworld. Yet for all its richness and charm, the festive world is not a place to remain. The cross-­purposes of this world will finally spiral out of hand and reintroduce what has been repressed: time’s urgency. The place of time-­out-of-­time is revealed, in the end, as not for all time. Indeed, often the urgency of the everyday world itself simply crashes in on the green world: Marcadé breaks up the playlet; Duke Frederick invades Arden Forest; Antonio’s ‘creditors grow cruel’ and ‘it is impossible I should live’ (MV 3.2.315–17). Ultimately, Shakespeare’s comedies return to the everyday world of hierarchy and law. All except, curiously, The Merchant of Venice, whose protagonists return instead to the green (or golden) world of Belmont; there the fifth act attempts to realign sensibilities with the harmonic rhythms of otherworldly music, for Venice has been rendered too discordant for rehabilitation. Often, as the comedies come to a close, time itself proves

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


comic, solving unresolved problems (in Belmont, Antonio’s ships are revealed magically to have come to harbour). The famous proverbs say, ‘Truth is the daughter of time’, and ‘Time is the father of truth’ (T580, T329a); comedy and romance install that proverbial idea as a structural principle.37 Comedy outlasts its potential for tragedy (as implied by the witticism that a tragedy is a comedy that ends too soon). In Twelfth Night, Viola commits whatever ‘may hap’ to ‘time’ (1.2.60). As the play’s seemingly intractable confusions mount, she says famously, ‘O time, thou must untangle this, not I, / It is too hard a knot for me t’untie’ (2.2.40–1). In her baffled but hopeful resignation to the forces of providence and the five-­act structure, Viola makes the perfect spectator to comedy. Oddly, although her speech is an apostrophe, the Arden edition does not capitalize ‘[T]ime’, which must be understood here as a personification, an active external agent capable of intervening in dramatic or human affairs. Time is a force, in Wagner’s sense, that becomes virtually materialized (‘the whirligig of time brings in his revenges’ [5.1.369]). The ending of The Comedy of Errors materializes time more emphatically when Egeon, facing execution, spots one of his lost sons in the crowd: ‘Haply I see a friend will save my life’, he says hopefully to the Duke (5.1.284). His son’s denial of him sends him to an emotional nadir: ‘O! grief hath chang’d me since you saw me last, / And careful hours with time’s deformed hand / Have written strange defeatures in my face’ (298–300; here, again, ‘[T]ime’ seems a prosopopeia). Egeon has become the virtual figure of Time himself (as his subsequent self-­description makes clear).38 But Egeon/Time’s entrance, which had at first seemed tragic, turns into the crucial action that reunites the family and unties the play’s hard knots of error. In dramatic structure, the appearance of Egeon/Time would be the comic catastrophe, when a character, typically from the past, emerges to unravel the confused strands of present action and facilitate the happy ending of marriage (Don Armado has his own slant on comic theory: ‘The catastrophe is a nuptial’ [LLL 4.1.78]). Time brings a sense of completion and justice: ‘Well, Time is


Temporality, Genre and Experience

the old justice’ who ‘examines . . . offenders’, declares Rosalind (AYL 4.2.191–2). Two Gentlemen captures this idea when Proteus says to the banished Valentine, ‘Time is the nurse and breeder of all good’ (3.1.243) – and, despite Proteus’s deceptiveness, the comic structure makes the axiom come true. Time is an essential constituent of the uncovering of truth and the resolution of comedy. But time in the Shakespearean ending is not without dissonance. The dilation of the ending’s wonder strives against the contraction of its performance. The comic denouement in Shakespeare is typically a moment of wonder: suspended temporality, a stop-­time during which an intense recognition – of revealed truths, of exposed relationships – blossoms into life. In Shakespeare’s comic recognition scenes, characters mark the moment. Fabian marvels over ‘the condition of this present hour, / Which I have wonder’d at’ (TN 5.1.3450–1), wonder enlarging the subjective experience of time. At the end of As You Like It, Hymen acknowledges wonder’s claim to time, as if wonder can be absorbed only slowly, when he instructs the befuddled assemblage: ‘Whiles a wedlock hymn we sing, / Feed yourselves with questioning, / That reason wonder may diminish’ (5.4.135–7). Friar Lawrence in Much Ado promises shortly to ‘qualify’ the ‘amazement’ of the wedding party, whose members seem, in the instant, suspended in wonder (5.4.67). In such speeches, wonder occurs as a protracted moment for contemplation and intense experience, a temporal dilation, a ‘present hour’. Hard upon such declarations, however, Shakespeare’s comedies often proceed to hurry towards closure. Amazement is more proclaimed than developed (by comparison, it is often drawn out in late cinquecento Italian comedy). For the ‘wonder’ (5.4.70) of Hero’s return from the dead, Much Ado allows only some half-­dozen lines, after which it shifts attention quickly to the comic sallies of Beatrice and Benedick (and then abruptly introduces a messenger to tell of Don John’s capture). In Twelfth Night, Malvolio’s refusal to be mollified prevents comic closure and damps comic joy. And no ending is quite so truncated as that of All’s Well, where the interval from

Shakespeare’s Theatre of Comic Time


Helen’s self-­revelation to her final exit is a mere twenty-­nine lines. The tension between these compressed diegetic conclusions and the plays’ affect of wonder creates temporal dissonance. Thematically, that dissonance bespeaks Shakespeare’s refusal to sentimentalize endings; theatrically, we are given a glimpse of magic but then rushed out of the play and left longing for more. Shakespeare’s comic endings reveal a final aspect of time that is somewhat abstract and yet metatheatrically concrete: its sense of aptness or appropriateness. Those terms bring into comedy ideas of proportion and fitness, a sense of things and people falling into their proper relationships. That is a value of consistent concern in Shakespeare’s and many other comedies. When Sir Toby contends that the below-­stairs revellers keep time in their singing, or when Syracusan Antipholus beats Ephesian Dromio for not knowing the proper time for joking (CE 1.2.68, 92), or when Olivia says to Viola/Cesario, ‘ ’tis not that time of moon with me to make one in so skipping a dialogue’ (TN 1.5.195–6), they invoke a general principle of apt time reiterated across the corpus. Comedy presumes right relationship and just proportion as ideals; these values make the sense of the ridiculous possible, even though Shakespearean comic endings do not tidy up all loose ends. The problem of apt time intrudes powerfully in Love’s Labour’s Lost. At the play’s beginning, the King proposes to defeat ‘the disgrace of death’ by withdrawing from the world with his courtiers to study for three years (1.1.3). Berowne begrudges this programme because of its inaptness: ‘each thing . . . in season grows. / So you, to study now it is too late’ (107–8). As William Carroll concludes, Navarre’s ‘fiat fails . . . because Navarre and his lords do not know what is possible and what is not, what ought to be and what ought not to be’.39 The action begins, then, in a conflict with time and an argument about proper timing. ‘Too late’ operates as a subtheme, for the timing will prove wrong not only for study but also for love. ‘[C]ormorant devouring time’ disrupts the denouement in the messenger-­figure Marcadé. In response to the Princess’s desire to depart immediately, the King claims the urgency of time, its


Temporality, Genre and Experience

‘extreme parts’, as justification to press the lovers’ suits: ‘Now, at the latest minute of the hour, / Grant us your loves’ (5.2.736, 783–4). The Queen replies, ‘A time, methinks, too short / To make a world-­without-end bargain in’ (784–5). Berowne has granted the ‘ridiculous[ness]’ and ‘unbefitting[ness]’ of their suits (755, 756), justifying perhaps the ladies’ sentencing of the men to a year’s worth of inapt exercises to prove their loves. The oddness of the foreclosed comic ending aside, the play has appealed to a sense of appropriateness, especially in regards to time, and even to oaths as speech-­acts abetted or subverted by proper or improper timing. At the end of Love’s Labour’s Lost, the time is righted in a different, metatheatrical way, for, as various critics have noted, the closing songs of ‘Hiems, winter’ and of ‘Ver, the spring’ (882) bring the players from the play-­ within-the-­play (‘The Nine Worthies’) back on stage as representatives of the real play, singing not just to the play’s courtly characters (who may even join the chorus) but also to the real audience. This ending makes the time within the play converge with the time without, achieving an unusual and satisfying sense of wholeness, fitness.40 That convergence may work as recompense for the failed generic ending, which has proved ‘too long for a play’ (869). Comedy constitutes, arguably, the dramatic genre that most recognizes, manipulates and engages its audience consciously in the witnessing of time. Right timing reflects a goal of comic performance and even an ideal of comic action itself. A time-­ out-of-­time facilitates the transformations and discoveries that will enable protagonists to return, as they must, to the everyday, the quotidian. Time acquires a quasi-­material presence. It can drift or be wasted, or it can take on a kind of second life, urging events and characters forward inexorably. In such ways, time assumes qualities both subjective and objective, personal and communal. One must seize the day, yet occasion will sort out all things rightly: time seems both threat and redress, enemy and friend. Comic characters are thus most successful when they grasp finally the way in which one thing must follow another, or as Berowne puts it, ‘Fit in his place and time’ (LLL 1.1.98).

3 Suspense Revisited: The Shared Experience of Time Raphael Falco

Secret sharers There are many ways to mark or express time in drama: the ageing of characters from act to act, dialogue describing completed action, the term of a pregnancy (as in John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi) or, on a smaller scale, scenes showing the beginning and end of a battle. Time can be marked by overt declarations of impatience (Antonio on the Rialto), loyal attendance (Othello arriving late to Cyprus), visible decay (Hermione’s statue), delay, temporizing or outright stalling. Dramatic time-­markers like these are conventionally meant to communicate the passage of time, while engaging the audience in the continuing action. But because staging time and action deliberately hypostasize them, conventional time-­markers estrange the audience from any genuine feeling of, or


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identification with, temporality in the course of the dénouement. Dramatic indications of time tend to be one-­sided, handed down from the stage as information or factual material – a beaker-­to-vessel method of communication. Dramatic suspense, on the other hand, functions precisely in the opposite way. Suspense requires a shared and simultaneous experience of dramatic time. It is a reaction-­formation of mild anxiety or apprehension relevant to an approaching deadline, time limit, discovery or revealing of a secret. The audience members’ privileged knowledge (as, for example, of Perdita’s pedigree in The Winter’s Tale or of the nature of the Friar’s potion in Romeo and Juliet) ‘suspends’ them in the same temporal space, so that the characters’ actions seem to exist as a private or selective performance. By merging secret or private temporal space with action, suspense implicates audience members in stage action, creating for them an imaginative form of agency both less than real and more than mere observation.1 Discussing François Truffaut’s interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, Todd McGowan explains the director’s distinction between ‘surprise’ and ‘suspense’: In his interviews with François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock famously draws a sharp distinction between surprise and suspense. Surprise occurs when a film confronts spectators with the unexpected and thereby creates a momentary shock, whereas suspense involves confronting them with what they know is coming.2 Hitchcock’s distinction between ‘surprise’ and ‘suspense’ rests on the duration of the mismatch between spectator’s expectations and what actually happens, and when, in the course of a film. William Condee writes that ‘suspense is created by the intensification and relaxation of tension on the stage, with a parallel response from the audience’.3 This alternating parallel dynamic of tension is critical, but there is a significant difference between action on stage and audience reaction. As Dolf Zillmann explains, ‘in suspenseful drama, respondents are witnesses to

The Shared Experience of Time


events involving others, and . . . the respondents are neither directly threatened nor directly benefited by the witnessed events’.4 Impunity from the consequences of events helps to entice, and even coerce, readers and respondents to fiction. The audience is suspended in time, waiting together for the anticipated events to transpire. Condee cites a Hitchcock story: Alfred Hitchcock is reputed to have explained his use of suspense by describing two scenes. In the first, a businessman comes to a shoe-­shine stand, sits and has his shoes shined; the scene ends with the stand, the businessman still upon it, blowing up. According to Hitchcock, this is a boring scene. In the second scene, the audience first sees a bomb under the shoe-­shine stand; the businessman enters, has his shoes shined and leaves, without the bomb going off. That, according to Hitchcock, is a suspenseful scene.5 The striking difference between the two scenes is that in the second the audience has privileged knowledge of the bomb and waits in anticipation of the explosion. The first scene creates a surprise. It is boring, to use Hitchcock’s word, because watching it is like watching a jack-­in-the-­box without knowing it’s a jack-­in-the-­box – a big bang, preceded by no anticipation. In the second scene, however, the element of time implicates the audience in the danger to the businessman and the bootblack, and forces a state of suspense. In actuality, or film reality, the shoe-­shine bomb might not be a ‘time bomb’ at all. But the lesson should be that a bomb on stage (or on film) is always a time bomb. Theatre audiences are suspended in a kind of limbo of expectation, but not because of their own action (or inaction); instead, audience members are bound in suspension because of their share in the complete knowledge of the action, and because they must wait knowingly in anticipation of the dénouement. Surprise may pack a punch, but it tends to be counter-­temporal because the lack of expectation subverts the time continuum of the narrative. In contrast, suspense exploits the time continuum and manipulates


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audience members, who ineluctably experience time passing, by dramatizing expectations, deadlines and secret eventualities. No one beyond the stage skirt will be forced to take poison, sleep with his mother or commit suicide in adulterous shame. Yet the audience is drawn into these acts with more investment than into others because of the suspense leading up to them. Shared suspense of this kind both manifests and measures dramatic time. It is created through shared knowledge between audience members and select players, and through the drawn-­ out experience of knowing what they know. In distinction to the broader category of dramatic irony, suspense depends upon the tension between knowledge and uncertainty and develops throughout the time of watching how known and unknowns will diverge, converge or transform. Robert Yanal argues that, to raise suspense, a narrative not only withholds information (which it is, by the fact of its temporality, forced to do); it implies several possible alternative outcomes, only one [of] which can be eventually realized later in the narrative, though which will be realized will at points in the narrative be uncertain (to the audience).6 Although some fictional narratives may create suspense by withholding information, most dramatic performances provide an audience with information in order to foster a shared sense of anxiety about the outcome of a narrative. This shared anxiety effectively coerces a bond, not only among audience members, but more significantly between the audience and certain figures on the stage. Without privileged knowledge, without this bond, audience members would experience a mere spectatorial frisson, not the suspense that comes from the shared temporal experience of awaiting resolution.7 In plays, suspense is not simply the experience of uncertainty and anxiety regarding a narrative’s outcome. Rather, the paradox of suspense is itself suspended as an abstract aesthetic condition. The repetition of suspense is possible because knowledge of the

The Shared Experience of Time


outcome is less important than audience members’ privileged knowledge, which is usually shared with particular stage agents. Stage time, abstracted from real time, suspends audience members as secret sharers in the action they are watching. Moreover, unlike frozen film, a play changes with every production (and sometimes every performance). Consequently, even when audience members know the outcome – maybe even because they know the outcome – they experience suspense as a coercive force within the limitations of an instantiated fictional abstraction. An aesthetic object – a play, for instance, arguing pars pro toto – supersedes the pragmatic sphere in all normal things except time, providing a platform for the coercive relationship wrought by shared secrets and by the ineluctable time limit imposed by a one-, three- or five-­act structure. Suspense flourishes in suspension – that is, in what Coleridge, in the Biographia Literaria, called ‘that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith’. Coleridge formulates his concept in a comparison of opposites (or near opposites): it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and wonders of the world before us.8 With the word ‘moment’, Coleridge introduces the notion of time and a deadline. More importantly, he is charged with transferring his inward emotions to so-­called ‘supernatural’ persons and characters. In contrast, Wordsworth was charged with inverting the process and, taking himself as the object,


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transferring the ‘wonders of the world’ inward ‘to excite feelings of the supernatural’. Coleridge wills himself temporarily to suspend disbelief in order to transfer his own emotions to characters and persons outside himself. But at the same time, he must reimagine time as a protected space at once exempt from clock time and limited by the deadline of ‘the moment’. A theatre audience transfers emotions in a comparable way to Coleridge’s, and under a similarly constraining deadline. Compelled by shared imaginative space, audience members transfer ‘inward nature’ to the supernatural stage figures, giving them a ‘semblance of truth’. The imaginative space thus created constitutes the groundwork for dramatic faith. Coleridgean ‘semblance’ accounts far better for dramatic experience than Kendall’s claim that ‘the pleasure . . . we take in tragedies depends . . . on its being only fictional that we feel sorrow or terror’.9 This assertion cannot be correct. Deadlines and suspense might be manifest under artificial compulsion, but the transference of ‘inward nature’ to dramatic (‘supernatural’) figures means the feelings generated by stage fictions are not ‘fictionally felt’: the highs and lows of an intricate plot, the empathy for characters or the identification with them, the horror in regard to their fate, and so forth – all dialogue and plot points produce perfectly real emotions. This, I suggest, is what Coleridge means when he proposes to project inward ‘nature’ onto supernatural characters. The fiction remains confined to the work, which cannot experience itself as a whole, although characters within the work mimic real emotions. The experience of the work is the province of spectators: audience members, or ‘appreciators’, do not feel fictional emotions. On the contrary, the audience transmutes the baser metal of mimicked emotions on stage into gold, drawn of their own real emotions for the time-­marked duration of the action. Readers and viewers expect to have their actual emotions stirred and manipulated: this is the deep pleasure of the literary experience. Donald Beecher formulates it this way: ‘as a premise, if not an axiom, it would appear that literature creates images of sufficient experiential reality that the human systems of

The Shared Experience of Time


attention and emotion both accept and treat them as real, even though the rational faculties recognize them as fictions’10 – which is an updated version of Coleridge’s endeavour to bring a ‘semblance of truth’ to his ‘shadows of imagination’. Within the ‘shadow’ time of a play, the fictionally framed universe of deadlines, shared knowledge begets an inescapable suspense. It is impossible for audience members who have been following the plot of the play to resist the time-­markers and the consequent suspense generated by the fictionalized deadlines. To do so would be equivalent to overhearing a conversation and trying not to understand a language they already know. This coercive force attends all theatrical suspense, which perfects dramatic performance by making the audience, in the narrowing time limit, complicit with the action that leads inevitably to recognition, reconciliation or catastrophe. Suspense animates time onstage by effecting a bond between audience and actors that is like a heightened myth-­consciousness validated by the artificial constructs of the play. Above all, suspense is a shared dramatic experience. By drawing in audience members, it brings alive a sense of mutuality, emphasizing the participation and secret collaboration that occur in real time but are bound by or ‘suspended’ in the artificially crafted time of the play’s narrative sequence. The phenomenology of theatre sponsored by suspense looks rather different from accounts of theatrical temporality that, like Matthew Wagner’s, distinguish between ‘phenomenological’ and ‘objective’ time. Wagner’s theatre ‘provides us a sharpened awareness of both, by shuttling us back and forth between each, and, most significantly, by not reconciling the one with the other or explaining one in terms of the other’.11 But in the realm of suspense, there is no ‘shuttling’: when all the stage is a world, a dynamic of suspension fixes time. Where Wagner moots that theatre stages ‘an awareness that the structure, pattern, and constitution of the time I am experiencing is somehow different from the time I understand to be real as measured by the clock’, the inner or individual temporal experience of time governed by suspense dissolves into group time, which is measured and


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limited by the development of plot elements.12 In the theatre of suspense, theatrical energy derives not from bouncing between Husserl’s phenomenological and individual time, but, instead, from the audience’s calibration of advance information, anticipation and action on stage. Engaging theatrical suspense, audiences share anticipated ‘information’, an experience that realigns them as a group. As the plot unfolds, their shared experience encompasses what Hans Wulff calls cataphora: the ‘textual references pointing to subsequent information in the text . . . [that] shape the viewers’ scope of expectation’.13 As viewers move and orient themselves, their individual experience of the spectacle shifts into a shared experience of cataphora. Joining audience members’ ‘scope of expectation’ with some form of privileged knowledge provided by the actors both suspends the viewers in a privileged temporal space and, simultaneously, mildly implicates them in the anticipated action. Anticipation, like suspense itself, translates time into viewer cohesion, as audiences share the experience of ‘coreference’.14 This cohesion is often evaluated generically: tragic cohesion earns a higher cultural value than, say, a shared laugh. Yet from full-­blown cathartic action, like the end of King Lear, to dramatic reversals (as in Hal’s sudden manhood in 1 Henry IV), to a simple punch line, audience cohesion results a fortiori from the shared experience of artificial time constructs – regardless of whether we call those constructs anticipation, deadline anxiety or suspense.

Suspense and genre Suspense, commonly associated with tragic eventualities, can also be generated by comedy: disguises, bed-­tricks, unexpected turns of speech and many other comic devices rely on a similar kind of audience anticipation to succeed. Further, and perhaps more interesting in relation to the manipulation of time, tragedies not infrequently deploy comically framed speeches

The Shared Experience of Time


or situations at critical moments in the plot. Comic irruptions into the tragic plane momentarily pervert the trajectory of suspense and temporal accumulation. These irruptions are more than disruptive and discomfiting; they introduce a meta-­ critical voice, a kind of challenge to the shared anticipation of audience members. In Hamlet, when Polonius offers to ‘silence me even here’ (3.4.4) behind the arras in Gertrude’s closet, everyone present – that is, Polonius, Gertrude and the viewers – all share the knowledge that Polonius has concealed himself.15 The joint sense of anticipation introduced by Polonius’s action links the suspense of the scene to the plot as a whole. It is impossible not to feel a sense of impending consequence as Hamlet enters Gertrude’s closet, since he has been promising consequences all along. The suspense is provided by the possibility of Polonius’s discovery or, on the other hand, of his successful concealment. The link between time and action unites knowing viewers in tense anticipation. Spectators are, at the level of the fiction, complicit in the concealment, although they remain safe from Hamlet’s possible reactions. The consequences of Polonius’s concealment might be good (if he isn’t discovered) or bad (if he is); its ostensible justification adds to the sense of group experience. He advises Gertrude: ‘Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with / And that your grace hath screened and stood between / Much heat and him’ (3.4.2–4). The irony of the scene is that Polonius, screening himself behind the arras, is unable to protect himself from Hamlet’s thrust, just as Hamlet himself, ‘screened’ by the Queen, has not been shielded from the King’s anger (‘heat’). But this irony only emerges when the suspense is abruptly truncated. The discovery of Polonius satisfies, or deflates, audience anticipation, while producing an apparently out-­ofjoint reaction in Hamlet: queen  

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me – Help, ho! polonius   [behind the arras.] What ho! Help!


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hamlet   How now? A rat! Dead for a ducat, dead!      [Kills Polonius] polonius   O, I am slain.

(3.4.20–23) Hamlet’s glibness here – ‘Dead for a ducat, dead!’ – even as he believes he has killed the King himself, seems dramatically inappropriate. In fact, it cannily links to the early modern conventions of theatrical suspense. Suspense was a pervasive technique in early modern comedy, and Hamlet’s reaction may allude to audience manipulation in that genre. Daniel Heiple, discussing Lope de Vega’s treatise Arte nuevo de hacer comedias, suggests that ‘suspense was a necessary element because authors, who had to entertain a somewhat rude public, used it to augment the tension and capture the interest of the viewer’.16 Scrambling the generic deployments of suspense and mixing genres to draw the audience into Hamlet’s conflict, the flip remark draws comic suspense into the play’s larger deployments of suspense’s tragic guises. Dramatic suspense is frequently protracted by intervening plot developments and attenuated (or extenuated) by bizarre rationalizations. Middleton and Rowley’s Changeling exemplifies such rationalizations and protractions, as it balances the audience’s anticipation of disaster with a convoluted marriage plot. As early as Act Two, Scene Two, Beatrice-Joanna entreats and entices Deflores to murder Alonzo de Piracquo, which Deflores is more than willing to do, vowing that ‘his end’s upon him: / He shall be seen no more’.17 A temporary suspense attaches to this vow – as it does to all vows, since they are illocutionary speech acts. A wider element of time comes in the dramatic requirement that Piracquo die to further Beatrice-Joanna’s plans within the time-­scheme of the play. The integration of time and action inherent in Deflores’s vow makes him, Beatrice-Joanna and the audience complicit in a secret. This complicity, at least among audience members, translates to a shared dynamic of suspense. They have no choice but to experience time as a form of mutuality: they are joint possessors of secret privileged

The Shared Experience of Time


knowledge, and throughout subsequent action on stage they wait in anticipation – or in suspension – until the secret is revealed. Middleton and Rowley immediately complicate this with another temporal trick. No sooner do they establish the temporal exigency of the vow to murder Piracquo than they trump the vow with another, vaguer sort of suspense. BeatriceJoanna, labouring under a delusion about her ability to manipulate Deflores, assumes that she’ll be able to pay him off as she would any other assassin. beatrice-joanna  

When the deed’s done, I’ll furnish thee with all things for thy flight: Thou may’st live bravely in another country. deflores   Ay, ay, we’ll talk of that hereafter. beatrice-joanna [Aside.] I shall rid Myself of two inveterate loathings at one time: Piracquo and his dog-­face. deflores         O my blood! Methinks I feel her in mine arms already, Her wanton fingers combing out this beard, And being pleased, praising this bad face. (2.2.141–9) Beatrice-Joanna’s misconception that she will rid herself ‘of two inveterate loathings at one time’ introduces a temporal element beyond the vow: a view to the aftermath of the murder plan. Although she sees suspense resolved ‘at one time’, in fact time will split and the murder of Piracquo will double the suspense rather than neutralizing it in one stroke. It is not surprising, then, that Deflores too refers to time – ‘we’ll talk of that hereafter’ – ‘hereafter’ being an ominous reference to his plan to take his payment later, not in the ‘three thousand golden florins’ that Beatrice-Joanna offers as salary, but in her virginity. That Beatrice-Joanna pays her chastity as blackmail to Deflores shadows the action of the play from the second act. Her marriage to Alsemero and the bed-­trick substitution on the wedding night protract the suspense, telescoping the


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temporal exigency up until the final horrifying revelations. The Changeling is exceptional in its doubling of secret knowledge and its snowballing coercion of the audience as the plot becomes more complicated and time runs out – not theatre time or clock time, but the privileged time of mutually informed participants and viewers. At the end of the play, the crazy climax of the double murder in the closet almost disappoints. It may be that the suspense surrounding Beatrice-Joanna’s fate falls into the category of ‘inevitability’ or ‘necessity’ familiar from Aristotelian poetics.18 But the punishment scene is also absurd, mocking the suspension in which the audience was held while anticipating and calculating the just penalty for an adulteress, betrayer and murder accomplice. The intervention of comic elements at crucial moments in tragedies invariably has a meta-­critical quality, at once capitalizing on the suspense of the plot and, metaphorically, casting a supercilious glance at the anticipation shared by the audience and certain actors on the stage. Like tragic suspense, suspense’s comic mode depends upon the urgency of anticipation. In the theatrically assumed false identities of comedy, benign disguises transform stage-­time into the shared reaction-­formation audience members’ experience as suspense. This too enforces complicity among viewers, restricting them as far as possible to the time limits and concomitant choices manifest in the fiction, providing viewers with a ‘picture of a situation so they can see a field of dangers, resistances, and obstacles’.19 In Twelfth Night, the joyous revelation of Viola’s identity focuses on the coincidence of place, time and fortune: If nothing lets to make us happy both But this my masculine usurped attire, Do not embrace me till each circumstance Of place, time, fortune, do cohere and jump That I am Viola.20 (5.1.245–9)

The Shared Experience of Time


The word ‘jump’ (meaning ‘coincide’), which this passage links to ‘cohere’ and ‘time’, helps to resolve the suspense attached to Viola’s disguise. Throughout the play, viewers shared Viola’s secret and were held in suspense with her – in a kind of secret cohesion. When the suspense ends, a new cohesion begins between brother and sister. Time dissolves in several ways: the time since Viola ‘numbered thirteen years’ (5.1.241), the time since the older Sebastian went to his ‘watery tomb’ (5.1.230) and the stage-­time during which the audience shares secret knowledge with Viola. This secret knowledge fails to match the historical narrative of the plot and therefore ‘suspends’ viewers in a privileged temporal zone, an abstraction within the abstraction of an aesthetically constructed set of theatrical delimitations. Stage-­time binds actors and viewers and directs them only forward, into an unknown future. This is the ideal of theatrical suspense, because, once viewers share advance information or privileged knowledge, temporal urgency inevitably forces a shared experience of the inseparability of time and action.

4 ‘In the Course and Process of Time’: Rupture, Reflection and Repetition in Henry VIII Philip Lorenz Whereas tragedy ends with a decision – however uncertain this may be – there resides in the essence of the Trauerspiel, and especially in the death-­scene, an appeal of the kind which martyrs utter. The language of the pre-Shakespearian Trauerspiel has been aptly described as a ‘bloody legal dialogue’ [‘blutiger Akten-­ dialog’]. The legal analogy may reasonably be taken further and, in the sense of the mediaeval literature of litigation, one may speak of the trial of the creature whose charge against death – or whoever else was indicted in it – is only partially dealt with and is adjourned at the end of the Trauerspiel . . . Again and


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again the Trauerspiele of the seventeenth century treat the same subjects, and treat them in such a way as to permit, indeed necessitate repetition. Walter Benjamin, ‘Trauerspiel and Tragedy’ 1

Henry VIII (1613) takes up the question of time as a matter of form. The play asks how, in the wake of the early modern constitutional crises of sovereignty, we are to think of the relationship between dynastic succession and dramatic form. While critics have frequently complained about the play’s treatment of time, objecting to its disregard for historical chronology, its ‘radical compression’ of events and its ‘destruction of historical sequence’, this chapter pursues Walter Benjamin’s analysis of baroque drama to explore the play not as a failed history, but rather as an exemplary ‘mourning play’.2 Henry VIII, in this view, is a play about the modern problem of entrapment in fallen time. That argument hinges on the special place that the baroque stage occupies as a place of thought.3 Historically, the stage is always a space of and for thought, but particularly in the English baroque – late to the Renaissance, early to political revolution – as well as in Henry VIII itself, which is also both a late (Shakespeare) and early (Fletcher) play, theatrical space becomes a site for re-­working intractable political-­theological problems.4 These include the constitutional (both in the sense of government theory and also subjectivity) problem of tyrannicide, or of violence in relation to law. As Benjamin, following Carl Schmitt, remarks on the baroque sovereign, the sovereign is the representative of history. He holds the course of history in his hand like a scepter. This view is by no means peculiar to the dramatist. It is based on certain con­stitutional notions. A new concept of sovereignty emerged in the seventeenth century from a final discussion of the juridical doctrines of the middle ages. The old

Rupture, Reflection and Repetition in Henry VIII 59

exemplary problem of tyrannicide became the focal point in this debate.5 Benjamin’s succinct and emblematic description underscores the centrality of representation and time to the period’s concept of sovereignty. Specifically, the early seventeenth century marks a new time of violence with respect to the law in an age in which tyrannicide becomes the period’s chief constitutional problem.6 The English understanding of this time in particular is shaped by English Common Law and the ‘non-linear’ genealogical history that it generates. As the legal scholar Peter Goodrich puts it, a genealogical history develops a somewhat different and non-­linear conception of time as imaginary distribution and as indefinite or oneiric sequence and cycle: the time of the institution is that of numina, of clouds, and not of sequence or chronography.7 Thus, as the Anglican divine John Jewel writes in his 1567 Defence of the Apologie of the Churche of England, ‘religionis authoritas non est tempore aestimando, sed numine’ (‘The authority of religion should be estimated in terms not of time but of the Gods or of clouds’).8 Religious time, for Jewel, is cloud time. And like the clouds, it’s a time that is on the move in the baroque.9 The Reformation sparks this motility, underlying a conception and crisis of sovereignty that in the seventeenth century is beginning to lose its control over time. This crisis is linked to the problem of eschatology, or the story of end-­time. Once the Church’s authority is shaken by the Lutheran critique, its ability to organize time is shattered. It no longer provides an authoritative narrative of time’s course. In response to this rupture, the stage begins to function differently than its predecessor with respect to sovereignty and its control over time. Unlike the allegorical drama of the mystery plays, themselves modelled on the ‘universal representation of Christ’s incarnation on the altar of every church’, Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s baroque stage marks a


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shift in terms of thinking about ‘modern’ time.10 From both a political-­theological and a theatrical perspective, then, the period’s ‘contemplative necessities’ demand a new way of conceiving of time in relation to sovereign power and succession. More specifically, in Benjamin’s view, the baroque sovereignty crisis reconfigures time in terms of space. ‘Chronological movement’, as he puts it, is ‘grasped and analysed in a spatial image’. Specifically, the image of the court now ‘becomes the key to historical understanding’.11 Benjamin’s method of analysis – ‘analysis in a spatial image’ – is uniquely his. It characterizes his singular apprehension of the truth of historical phenomena in terms of the temporality of a certain kind of image, one that momentarily springs into view to make visible our relation not simply to the past but above all to the interruption in temporal movement between what Benjamin calls the ‘Then’ (das Gewesene) and the ‘Now’ (das Jetzt): It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present [casts] its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash [blitzhaft] with the now to form a constellation. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of what-­has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent. – Only dialectical images are genuine images (that is, not archaic); and the place where one encounters them is language.  Awakening  [N2a, 2] 12 Benjamin’s famously complex notion of the dialectical image has given rise to an enormous amount of critical commentary.13 Among the ‘semi-­concept’s’ complex conceptual objectives is an attempt to think of historical movement in terms of an interruption in time that differs from both the unveiling of Heideggerian phenomenology and also from the progressive movement implicit to Hegel’s philosophy of history.14 As Rainer Nägele puts it, the dialectical image is ‘neither an empirical

Rupture, Reflection and Repetition in Henry VIII 61

pictorial representation of the world, nor an abstract thought or idea, but a kind of Denkbild, a thinking image, that has its place in language’.15 It is, furthermore, an ‘image’ that provides us with a way of thinking about a ‘relational stance’.16 Related to this notion of dialectical image, but also distinct from it, is the literary genre of the Denkbild itself, a form of ‘thinking image’ that appears as a regular feature in the writings of many of the thinkers of or associated with the Frankfurt School, such as Theodor Adorno, Siegried Kracauer and Ernst Bloch. For these writers, Denkbilder provide a way of grasping certain aspects of the relationship between conceptual and aesthetic phenomena precisely as figures of thought.17 In Benjamin’s writing, Denkbilder often appear as figures that capture the movement, interruption and sometimes ‘pattern’ of thought. In Benjamin’s Denkbild titled ‘Secret Signs’, for example, he writes that ‘[e]very cognition [Erkenntnis] . . . contains a dash of nonsense, just as in ancient carpet patterns or ornamental friezes it was possible to find somewhere or other a minute deviation from the regular pattern’.18 Benjamin thinks with and through ‘images’ such as these. Shaped in part by his study of baroque drama, Benjamin’s method of analysis in and through spatial images could itself be seen as a ‘baroque’ form of thinking that, like that other quintessentially baroque form, the anatomy theatre, cuts into the ‘body’ or language of an idea in order to make visible its critical or constitutional question. In the case of sovereignty, that question is how and whether one can act.

From acts to Acts (and back) The English Parliament’s 1534 Act of Supremacy recognizing Henry VIII as the ‘Supreme Head of the Church of England’ marked a decisive moment in early modernity and beyond. Henry VIII’s break with Rome and assumption of ecclesiastical as well as civil authority is a defining event of Western modernity. It not only reconfigured the lines of church and state authority


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in England, but also threw into relief the presuppositions about political and ecclesiastical authority that it disrupted. And it fundamentally changed time’s relation to dynastic and ecclesiastical authority. Altering Church history, the Act of Supremacy undermined the deep teleological narrative of a continuous Church managing human relations to the divine during the linear historical unfolding of time between Christ’s Incarnation and his Second Coming. Similarly, the dynastic mobility effected by (contradictorily enough) both the personal charisma and dynastic fragility surrounding early modern monarchs like Henry VIII made political succession more difficult to imagine as an inevitable consequence of time’s passage. Even if sixteenth-­century instances of regnal contingency were hardly unprecedented, their impact was to question and reimagine narratives of political authority, where medieval culture seemed more often to have recuperated and assimilated earlier examples of regime change.19 More than half a century after the Henrician Act of Supremacy, after much (but far from all) of the political dust had settled, Shakespeare and John Fletcher dramatized its events in their collaborative play, Henry VIII or All is True (1613). Most often referred to as the Shakespeare play that burned down the house, Henry VIII recounts the events leading up to and following the traumatic rupture of Christendom and the cataclysmic realignment of inherited categories it produces.20 The play’s representation of time exemplifies the convergence and crisis of sovereignty, representation and time that Benjamin identifies as emblematic of the baroque period. For Benjamin, the German baroque mourning play (the Trauerspiel) is the dramatic form that inscribes these changing relations. Unlike classical tragedy, which ends with a sovereign ‘decision’ on the course of history after the fall of the protagonist (a course that Benjamin’s sources Franz Rosenzweig and Florens Christian Rang saw as the passage from polytheism to monotheism), the mourning play cannot find a way out of (fallen) time and remains stuck in a temporality of historical repetition, leaving its ending and spectators unresolved – or

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rather, as Benjamin puts it in the theo-­political language of the baroque, ‘adjourned at the end’.21 Marked by the ‘emptying out’ of eschatological narratives in the Reformation, Benjamin’s baroque consists of an epistemological landscape in which time no longer purposefully moves towards an ‘end’ point of fulfilment, but instead appears as an ‘empty form’. The Trauerspiel figures this change in structural dramatic terms. For Benjamin, the sovereign is the ‘representative of history’, who ‘holds the course of history in his hand like a sceptre’.22 History appears here in the form of a representative image. More specifically, it takes the form of a baroque emblem. This emblem suggests that what appears as historical also defines sovereignty as an agency that excludes other agencies – i.e. representation. The question of representation, in other words, is the question of sovereignty, and vice versa.23 Sovere­ignty, in this baroque view, is always a matter of theatricality, not substance. The sovereign becomes sovereign through representation. This image of the sovereign in control of history is informed by the controversial legal theorist Carl Schmitt’s research on the constitutional problem of sovereignty in early seventeenth-­ century Europe. In particular, Schmitt focuses on sovereignty in relation to an emergency or state of exception (Ausnahmezustand).24 In Schmitt’s baroque, sovereignty is thrown into a crisis by the sovereign’s inability to control the violent course of history in the face of an emergency. Sovereignty is no longer sovereignty once it is separated from this control over time and the representation of its direction.

‘In the course and process of this time . . .’ History in Shakespeare, at least from Hamlet on, is baroque history in precisely Benjamin’s sense. It is a history obsessed with the problem of time, indeed ‘mortified’ by it, to use Benjamin’s term for baroque criticism as the ‘settling of knowledge in dead


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[works]’.25 The most prominent symptom of this mortification lies in the playwrights’ treatment of historical repetition. Henry VIII presents history as a process of the (conceptual and representational) breakaway from an older configuration of the relationship among sovereignty, time and form. Comical and ‘tragical’, violent and experimental, early (Fletcher) and late (Shakespeare) all at once, Henry VIII turns (again and again) to the question of historical movement in relation to form, viewing the ‘pattern’ of time as a new kind of thing. The play stages a chain of historical events, most of which Shakespeare and Fletcher take more or less directly from the chronicle histories of Raphael Holinshed, down to the very etceteras: Henry’s famous meeting with the King of France at the Field of the Cloth of the Gold; the betrayal and trial of the Duke of Buckingham; a masque at York place, where Henry sees Anne Bullen dance.26 ‘Remembering’ backward and forward at once, Henry VIII’s subject matter is what Benjamin refers to as ‘historical life, as it was conceived at that time’, namely, in relation to the alterity of the end time of the exception – the time outside of the sovereign’s control.27 Henry VIII presents its own version of this kind of life, in which the historical question is haunted by the fear that the nation is moving in a direction that may very well deviate from the course of providential history and veer off into catastrophe. Historical movement in its new non-­relation to sovereignty is thus its subject. A play with no protagonist and no plot, Henry VIII, nevertheless, is full of action. Its five acts take the spectator along for a historical ride in which temporal movement itself takes centre stage and becomes both the play’s protagonist and central problem. Specifically, it focuses on the relation binding history, succession and repetition. Returning to events leading up to England’s breakaway from Rome, the play stages a series of tableau scenes in which historical movement is viewed not in terms of ‘plot’ – it has no Aristotelian diegesis that ‘develops’ from beginning through middle to end – but rather as a repetitive pattern. Not organized according to Aristotelian principles of plot and development, Henry VIII nevertheless works hard to stage

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historical movement, presenting us with an arrangement of scenes structured, as critics have noted, according to the cyclical pattern of the de casibus tradition mirroring the rise and fall of great figures.28 What emerges from these scenes, however, is less a view of history that moves in relation to the actions of powerful individuals (sovereigns, schemers, intrigants) than one governed by the more ‘impersonal forces . . . that determine history’: those associated, in medieval tragedy, with the inexorable turning of Fortune’s wheel.29 One way the seventeenth century saw this turning was in relation to the baroque problem of melancholy, provoked by the Lutheran critique of the Church. In an ironic light, this perhaps explains the preparatory advice given to the spectator by the play’s opening Prologue: Be sad, as we would make ye. Think ye see The very persons of our noble story As they were living; think you see them great, And followed with the general throng and sweat Of thousand friends; then, in a moment, see How soon this mightiness meets misery; And if you can be merry then, I’ll say A man may weep upon his wedding day. (Prologue.25–31) ‘Be sad, as we would make ye’, the Prologue instructs us (Prologue.25). Yet despite the pointed instruction to see the play as something that might even make a man ‘weep upon his wedding day’ (Prologue.32), the injunction to ‘be sad’ is increasingly countered by the Prologue’s own alternative view of the life to be staged, a life including ‘the general throng and sweat’ of the people that elicits at least as much laughter and carnivalesque pleasure as sadness. This raises the first of several questions about the play. To begin with, what kind of speech act is the Prologue’s ‘be sad, as we would make ye’?30 How are we to take this imperative, and what does it mean if the play that follows in the end fails to make us sad? How might we think


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about that ‘failure’ (if it is one) in relation to the play’s treatment of time? And how are we to view this time in terms of genre? The ensuing five acts follow the repeated movement of rising and falling figures (Buckingham, Wolsey, Katherine, Anne), and in their course, Henry VIII generically experiments in mixing tragicomic elements with history, before finally ‘resolving’ in the play’s climactic prophecy of a glorious future (the play’s past) signalled by Elizabeth’s birth. Archbishop Cranmer’s assertion that Elizabeth ‘shall be a pattern to all princes living with her and all that shall succeed’ (5.4.20–23) is taken directly from the chronicle source. Yet when reinserted into Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s play, Cranmer’s assertion about time appears in a changed light. How, then, are we to understand the ‘pattern to all princes’ that Elizabeth’s birth supposedly inaugurates? What kind of time will that be? And what can it tell us about Shakespeare’s changing view of historical movement at the end of his career? What genre comes after tragedy? Something is changing here.31 As I have emphasized, it would be stretching it only a little to argue that Henry VIII has no plot – at least not in the Aristotelian sense of a tripartite development, structured around the actions and intentions of a single protagonist, who experiences key moments of turning and recognition. The sovereign, Henry VIII – ‘representative of history’ – in Benjamin’s formulation, is hardly even there.32 But to say that the play has ‘no protagonist’ or ‘no plot’ is not to suggest that there is no action. There is plenty of high drama: trials, executions, coronations, inaugurations and a climactic prophecy. While the names change, the play’s basic ‘pattern’ remains the same: a powerful figure – the Duke of Buckingham, Katherine of Aragón, Cardinal Wolsey, Anne Boleyn – rises to success, falls rapidly into calamity and/or death, and is replaced by a successor. As critics have pointed out (or sometimes complained), the play presents a series of repeated tableaux of the rise and fall of powerful figures. The repetitive movement of its acts is perhaps understandable if we recall that Shakespeare and Fletcher’s source material is itself about a certain sovereign’s compulsion

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to repeat. Henry VIII is based on what could be seen as rich and fascinating, if dangerous, material (this is recent history for Shakespeare) for a psychological and historical character study. Yet unlike many of the history plays of the Tudor era, or the tragedies, Shakespeare and Fletcher’s play is distinguished by a sustained avoidance of ‘character analysis’ understood in any individual sense. Henry is not a ‘strong King’, psychologically or dramatically. He does not direct history. On the contrary, for most of the play, Shakespeare and Fletcher show history to move without him. Apart from the question of its divided authorship, one of the features that distinguishes the play among Shakespeare’s histories is its vast number of stage directions.33 One of the most prominent of these appears in the trial scene of Katherine of Aragón. Called on to answer Henry’s demand for a divorce, the Queen responds with a speech that has been considered one of the best dramatic moments in Shakespeare. Before that drama can begin, however, and before any speech is uttered, the act itself opens with the following set of detailed stage directions: Trumpets, sennet and cornetts. Enter two Vergers with short silver wands; next them two Scribes in the habit of doctors; after them, the Archbishop of Canterbury alone; after him, the Bishops of Lincoln, Ely, Rochester and St. Asaph; next them, with some small distance, follows a Gentleman, bearing the purse with the great seal and a cardinal’s hat; then two Priests, bearing each a silver cross; then a Gentleman Usher, bare-­headed, accompanied with a Sergeant-­at-arms, bearing a silver mace; then two Gentlemen, bearing two great silver pillars; after them, side by side, the two Cardinals; two Noblemen with the sword and mace. (–10; my emphasis) The linear choreography of the first part of the directions emphasizes a horizontal sequencing of bodies (next, next . . .)


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that is then interrupted and shifts to a vertical spatial arrangement that stresses the relations of power and of superand sub-­ordination: The King takes place under the cloth of state. The two Cardinals sit under him as judges. Queen Katherine, attended by Griffith, takes place some distance from the King. The Bishops place themselves on each side the court in manner of a consistory; below them the Scribes [and a Crier]. The Lords sit next the Bishops. The rest of the attendants stand in convenient order about the stage. (–16; my emphasis) Finally, a spoken voice ends the silent parade, calling out: Crier: Katherine, Queen of England, come into the court. The Queen makes no answer, rises out of her chair, goes about the court, comes to the King, and kneels at his feet; then – speaks . . . (2.4.10; my emphasis) I’ve included this stage direction in its lengthy entirety to make visible a certain figural and spatial relation that is, I believe, crucial to the play’s understanding of the connection of sovereignty and exception to time. The scene is one of ceremonial silence. Between dumb show and ballet, its staging indicates the beginning of a technical shift in Shakespeare in the representation of history, in which we see, in emblematic form, something like what Benjamin calls a ‘transposition of . . . originally temporal data into a figurative spatial simultaneity’.34 In his view, this shift is ultimately a consequence of the double blow of the Lutheran critique of good works and of the Reformation’s ‘emptying out’ of the authority of eschatological narratives. History, here, is going nowhere. And as a result, time is no longer viewed as

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moving purposefully toward a (religious) end point (salvation) but is rather, in a scenic sense, frozen into wordless images. The centrepiece of these silent movements is the Queen, Katherine. Part Isabella from Measure for Measure, part Hermione from The Winter’s Tale, Katherine is, like the play itself, a hybrid construction. And like Isabella, Katherine’s central dramatic moment begins with an appeal to justice: Sir, call to mind That I have been your wife in this obedience Upward of twenty years, and have been blessed With many children by you. If in the course And process of this time, you can report, And prove it too, against mine honor aught, My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty Against your sacred person, in God’s name Turn me away and let the foulest contempt Shut door upon me, and so give me up To the sharpest kind of justice. (2.4.32–42; my emphasis) Katherine’s description of her history with Henry in terms of ‘process’ – ‘in the course and process of this time’ – coincides with the time (‘this time’) of the trial, itself a time of process.35 ‘Process’ in Shakespeare means many things. It can refer to a variety of phenomena and forms, including a lapse of time (‘Three beauteous springs to yellow Autumne turn’d / In processe of the seasons Have I seen’ [Sonnet 104]); a narrative or story (‘So the whole eare of Denmarke / Is by a forged processe of my death / Rankly abused’ [Ham 1.5.37] (a process which proves extremely dangerous)); an event (‘Behind the arras I’ll convey myself / To hear the processe’ [Ham 3.3.29]); a royal command (also dangerous) – as when Claudius’s ‘sovereign process’ equates to a message to kill its bearer (Ham 4.3.61); a legal summons (AC 1.1.3); and the conversion of narrative into image, as when Othello’s stories


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lead Desdemona to see ‘his visage in her mind’ – ‘such was my process’ (Oth 1.3.142).36 Each of these different senses of ‘process’ – as history, narrative, command, legal summons and image – comes with its own temporality and movement. But it is above all the sense of process as a historical movement motored by law that Shakespeare and Fletcher deploy in Henry VIII. Specifically, what we see in Henry VIII is that the process of history is itself a history of ‘process’, not only in the sense of judicial proceeding, but also in that of the kind of emblematic ‘transposition’ of the temporal into the spatial that Benjamin describes. In this light, Henry VIII could be viewed as a development of the image of time as a non-­developing (in terms of narrative) form. In both senses the play is precisely a play about ‘process’. All of these meanings of process combine in the next scene, which Henry VIII introduces with elaborate stage directions: the coronation ceremony of Anne Boleyn. The scene begins in the form of a moving picture, once again divided into an arrangement of silent bodies on stage. This time the arrangement is followed by an accompanying commentary, including in the stage directions one minor and seemingly redundant detail: 2 Gent.

Stand close. The Queen is coming.

The order of the coronation 1 A lively flourish of trumpets 2 Then, two judges 3 Lord Chancellor, with purse and mace before him. 4 Choristers singing. Music. 5 Mayor of London, bearing the mace. Then Garter, in his coat of arms, and on his head he wears a gilt copper crown. 6 Marquess Dorset, bearing a sceptre of gold, on his head a demi-­coronal of gold. With him the Earl of Surrey, bearing the rod of silver with the dove, crowned with an earl’s coronet. Collars of esses.

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7 Duke of Suffolk, in his robe of estate, his coronet on his head, bearing a long white wand, as High Steward. With him, the Duke of Norfolk, with the rod of marshalship, a coronet on his head. Collars of esses. (H8–36.15, my emphasis) Holinshed refers to the collar of esses – a Lancastrian badge worn in the Wars of the Roses – and Shakespeare notably keeps this seemingly superfluous addition.37 The apparently trivial, twice-­cited collar performs an important function in the stage directions and (this is my argument) in the play. Within the choreography of the play, the collar arrests the procession of ‘humans’ in the scene, entering the play in the stage directions as if it were walking, a non-­acting actor dramatically invested with the same theatricality as a Marquess or a Duke. Other than ‘bearing’ and ‘wears’, the almost entirely verb-­less language of the directions allows them to point, indicating bodily positions and gestures. The directions enable the collar to signify both a royal excess and at the same time a certain lack of agency. It is both more and less than an actor, an agent. The collar’s appearance, and reappearance, in the direction endows it with what Gerhard Richter referred to with respect to Benjamin’s Denkbilder as a ‘relational stance’ that in this case could be seen to economically figure the play’s conception of the relationship connecting succession, repetition and exception. In the collar, we see the repetition of a ‘pattern’. Yet unlike the circular movement that we find in the de casibus tradition, the ‘pattern’ of this collar is one that consists of a dual repetition: the repeating ‘SS’s are themselves linked in a circle of returns. At the portcullis at the base of the necklace, the ‘SS’s crucially deviate from the pattern before returning to it. From the portcullis descends the Tudor rose that either centres, stops or grounds (depending on one’s reading) the circular movement of the livery collar of esses depicted in the famous Holbein portrait of Thomas More (Figure 4.1). This historical collar is the subject of considerable scholarly speculation.38 A Lancastrian badge, it has been interpreted in


Temporality, Genre and Experience

FIGURE  4.1  Hans Holbein, Thomas More with collar of esses (1527) (© The Frick Collection)

contradictory ways, both as a marker of legitimate affiliation and at the same time as a recognition of a doubtful legitimacy. It’s a problem chain, linked to everything from a secret sign of Jesus Christ to the not-­so-secret insignia of the House of Lancaster and its sovereignty over private armies.39 What is

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significant for Henry VIII – structurally, emblematically and figuratively – is both the collar’s central position in the play, and its silence. As a figure for the succession story it participates in dramatizing, the collar’s form itself presents a pattern of movement that is marked by the potentiality for a deviation from itself. That is, it’s a movement that suggests that in all of this repeating history, of repeated images and tableau scenes, one might just find a way out of historical repetition, specifically in this case, the repetition of rising and falling kings and the cycle of violence it implies. Yet the collar presents a more complex topology than this simple way out of a pattern. Viewed as a kind of Denkbild, the collar could be seen to figure an internal relation of repetition and succession, motion and stasis, all at once. It is precisely this overlapping and overwrought logic that governs Henry VIII’s organization of time. As an image of non-­developing movement, the royal chain anchors the play’s representation of time in a logic of circular repetition that seems to recur again and again. Its non-­syntactical juxtaposition of repeating letters – themselves (some scholars argue) standing for ‘Souverayne’ – suggests a continuity of succession that is then barred by the centrally positioned portcullis.40 The portcullis is interesting here. Itself a form of gate or sliding door, it either opens onto the chain’s movement or blocks it. Whether the circular and repetitive pattern of the chain is to be seen as a movement into the future is, in a way, the play’s question. What’s clear is that the figure of this question itself has been cut off from its source. It stands alone, as more than a prop, endowed with its own form of theatrical life – and after-­life. The collar’s form figures the succession question as an event governed by its own futurity. In this view, the juxtaposition of tableau scenes doesn’t allow for the ‘development’ or closure of time so much as a repetition of the ‘pattern’ of rising and falling itself – until, that is, the ‘pattern’ arrives at a crucial block, and stops. This jars against the critical tradition marked by complaints of the play’s treatment of time.41 In that reading, historical movement is finally subsumed in the closing prophecy


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of Archbishop Cranmer, which most critics see as the play’s escape valve from the previous repetitions. Cranmer declares that the new-­born Elizabeth promises, ‘Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings, / Which time shall bring to ripeness. She shall be / . . . / A pattern to all princes living with her / And all that shall succeed’ (5.4.17–23). But what does ‘success’ mean here? And how are the ‘thousand thousand’ blessings themselves to be taken, other than as yet another form of repetition? What, in the end, are we to make of the relationship between sovereignty and time in Henry VIII?

Time’s choreography The answer, I believe, appears in this baroque play’s understanding of history in terms of a new choreography. Henry VIII’s many processions figure a non-­developing temporal movement that underlies a view of both history and image (which as we have seen is one of the meanings of ‘process’) at once. Its plot, which seems to head like the wheel of fortune in no other direction but back to where it began, moves in a circle. Except that, finally, it is not the figure of Fortuna that governs the play’s understanding of the relationship between sovereignty and history, succession and repetition. Rather, another ordering principle replaces it. In a type of parasitical formulation to Benjamin’s own description of what is ‘dialectical’ about his dialectical image as ‘not progression but image’, one could say that what is temporal in Henry VIII takes the form not of chronology but rather of choreography.42 That is what begins to emerge in Shakespeare after tragedy – after tragedy conceived of as a dramatic representation of a personalized sovereignty and a sovereign in control of time, as in Carl Schmitt’s theory. Instead, what we see in Henry VIII is a breakaway of sovereignty and time from the figure of the sovereign altogether, and a movement towards a new place. From kings to things, and from acts to processes, time moves in Henry VIII into a new form and subsequently gives rise to a

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different kind of analysis and critique. Once sovereignty and the sovereign are no longer read as figures of an authority directly tied to its divine source, the meaning of sovereign agency and responsibility can no longer be understood as authorized by the law, including the law of time. We no longer recognize that law in the play in the old terms, i.e. in the figure of the king’s body. Rather, what we see is a sovereignty, and a time, that move into the play’s impersonal administrative machinery. In Henry VIII, that machinery is pronouncedly theatrical, governed by the play’s prominent stage directions.43 This emphasis highlights a certain aspect of the relationship between sovereignty and time not present in Shakespeare’s earlier dramatizations of the rise and fall of kings. What we see ‘in the course and process of this time’, neatly encrypted in the play’s in-­setting of the collar of esses, is a figure of repetition and deviation that forges a different understanding of time. This is no teleological or eschatological design. Rather, it’s an image that, as a conceptual figure, understands temporality as dependent on a process of pure contingency.44 In the course and process of these repetitions, repeated series and scenes, something may occur. One might just hit on an Elizabeth, a ‘pattern to all princes’, and, at least for a while, an escape valve to the repeated cycles of religious violence sparked by England’s break with Rome. Yet as we know, and as the Thirty Years War was soon to attest, the temporary Elizabethan lull in theo-­ political violence was not long lasting. Rather, the ‘process’ of time staged in Henry VIII depicts more accurately a time of what Benjamin calls ‘adjournment’ rather than sovereign decision and resolution. Henry VIII is thus more than a mere ‘illustration’ of Benjamin’s ideas about baroque drama and historical illumination. The play is itself rather in the theatrical process of inventing a ‘modern’ conception of history as trial or ‘process’, a history that comes increasingly to be understood as groundless with respect to sovereign force and its divine justification. Despite the Archbishop’s prophecy, Henry VIII offers no decision on history’s course. And as the historical Queen Elizabeth, whose


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‘pattern’ is here announced – the same Elizabeth who throughout her reign wore, as more than a memento mori, a locket containing the image of the beheaded head of her mother – knew all too well, the most prominent features of this modern time were above all danger and contingency.45 In its dramatization of that danger and that contingency, Henry VIII experiments with different conceptions of time in relation to power. The two particular features of that experimentation I have highlighted here are, first, structural, in which the collar of esses, silently encrypted within the stage directions as a speaking picture or non-­acting actor, captures the play’s logic of temporal movement. The collar’s position in relation to the acts surrounding it give the play a mise en abyme quality that anchors it in a baroque topology of repetition. And, second, the formal and philosophical feature in which temporal movement is imagined – both in the collar and in the acts that surround it – as a form of theo-­political trial without end, as the time of sovereignty breaks down and moves on into a new form.



5 Is Henry V Still a History Play? Andrew Griffin

Where history plays aim at mimesis, they seem destined to fail.1 Performance derives its energy from being immediate and lived, while the history play necessarily points to a historical moment that is by definition neither present nor alive. Such problems are particularly acute on the early modern stage where historical verisimilitude was, as Lucy Munro notes, rarely an obvious concern at the level of costume, action or speech, and where, as Brian Walsh remarks, early modern history plays regularly pointed up their own present-­tense materiality, ironically undermining their attempts to stage the past.2 For Walsh, these plays are assiduously presentational where they dwell on the ephemerality of their own performance, but insistently representational as well when they attempt to revivify the past on stage. Due to this tension, early modern history plays often operate in a self-­conscious if not wholly ironic mode. Generalizing his arguments about the dramaturgy of the Queen’s Men and Shakespeare, Walsh claims that early modern history plays – necessarily interested in staging the past – ultimately offered audiences a glimpse of the past that was


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‘powerful’ but only ever ‘fleeting’. This is not least because history plays’ self-­conscious metatheatricality inspires a ‘delicate poise between engagement’ with diegetic reality – that is, ‘reality’ within the unfolding dramatic plot – ‘and awareness’ of the theatrical scene.3 When wrestling with these tensions that strain history plays between the present of performance and the diegetic past, many critics turn to a famous passage in Nashe’s Pierce Penniless and dwell on its ironies. Insisting on the ability of theatre to revivify the past, Nashe describes a scene in 1 Henry VI: How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French) to thinke that after he had lyne two hundred yeares in his Tombe, hee should triumphe againe on the Stage, and have his bones newe embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least, (at severall times) who in the Tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding.4 Ambitious theatrical fantasies of resurrection are qualified and compromised in this account of the stage’s power. Talbot may live and die again, but the body of a ‘Tragedian’ looms in the foreground, and the iterability of a given play ultimately turns resurrection into parody as Talbot’s body is embalmed and resurrected again and again – ‘at severall times’ – like a macabre jack-­in-the-­box. Audiences may ultimately ‘imagine they behold’ Talbot ‘fresh bleeding’, but they only imagine it, and the artifice of the theatre emphasizes the pastness of the past that it aims to make present. This temporal doubleness, as I discuss below, quickens history plays by inspiring a sense of topical engagement, encouraging the past to enter into conversation with the present. Here, however, I’m more interested in the span of ‘two hundred yeares’ that Nashe imagines between the death of Talbot and his staged return. While Talbot had, in fact, died approximately 140 years before the first performance of 1 Henry VI, Nashe draws attention to a key feature of early modern history plays:

Is Henry V Still a History Pl ay?


their sense of chronological proximity and historical continuity. When staging the dead, early modern history plays often staged ancestors of relatively recent vintage, meaning that the historical past felt familiar when the dead rose from their graves because those dead had lived in a world that an early modern audience shared. In making this observation, I want to return to a well known, often-­criticized definition of the Elizabethan history play offered by G. K. Hunter. In the familiar first half of his definition, Hunter claims that ‘a history play is a play about English dynastic politics of the feudal and immediately post-­ feudal period – usually about tensions between central government and the barons’. His focus on political content is often treated as central to Hunter’s account of the genre, but he continues with a further, provocative clarification that critics often ignore: ‘even more relevant’ to the genre’s definition, he claims, is a sense of relative historical familiarity.5 When watching one of the early modern plays identified as history plays, ‘a theatrical audience has a relationship with stories about its own intelligible past which is different from the relationship to other kinds of stories’.6 By invoking ‘intelligibility’ to characterize the proximate past, Hunter echoes an impressionistic, tacitly periodizing distinction that Alain Badiou unpacks in Rhapsody for the Theatre. Exploring the complex relationship between an audience’s world and the diegetic world, Badiou argues that material from recent history will inevitably fail to produce successful plays because recent history is apparently too ‘real’: ‘you should study the difficulty of making theatre out of real politics’, he suggests, because putting Lenin or Mao onstage never goes very far. [Georg] Büchner’s Robespierre [in Danton’s Death] is in my eyes a dreamlike fiction that might as well be called Dujardin or Bassompierre. Evidently, Caesar or Alexander will be more convenient [subjects of theatrical representation]: as ancient conquerors, they can be assimilated to Apollo or to Theseus.7


Temporality, Genre and Experience

As a playwright who treats decidedly ‘real politics’ and recent history in his Ahmed plays, Badiou may be speaking ironically here. And yet the distinctions he draws and the historical figures he invokes remain salient when considering the strange generic character of the early modern history play. As many writers on the early modern history play point out, its generic difference from tragedy is often difficult to discern if we focus only on ‘truthfulness’: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is just as historically ‘true’ as his Richard II, and yet the folio table of contents clearly distinguishes them. The difference that interests Badiou seems to be the difference that Hunter points out: once the past is no longer ‘intelligible’, its characters can be ‘assimilated to Apollo’. For Hunter, this distinction suggests that an early modern audience has a different sort of ‘relationship’ to the material on stage when that material is relatively recent. Alexander is somehow less ‘intelligible’, to use Hunter’s language, than Lenin; being ‘ancient’, Caesar and Alexander appear in ‘other kinds of stories’, becoming hazily tragic or mythic, disarticulated from ‘real politics’, or the sort of politics with which history plays wrestle.8 As with most schemes for characterizing the early modern history play, this model is fundamentally flawed, in part because the difference between ‘recent’ and non-­recent history is too imprecise and un-­formal a distinction on which to hang a generic tag. This generic problem was diagnosed over fifty years ago, when Irving Ribner pointed out that ‘it is ridiculous to make generic distinctions on the basis of the national origin of subject matter’, and it has been noted since, even in Hunter, who is often said to espouse the opposite argument.9 As Paulina Kewes points out in her comprehensive account of the genre, similar problems abound when trying to distinguish history plays from other genres, especially when one incorporates evidence from printed playtexts, the stationers’ register and early modern critical commentary. Ultimately concluding that ‘the Elizabethan history play is not a “true” genre if by that is meant a dramatic form clearly distinguishable from the Elizabethan tragedy and the Elizabethan comedy’, Kewes also

Is Henry V Still a History Pl ay?


recognizes the ‘pragmatic value of such classifications’ while insisting that the classification remains something other than generic.10 ‘The history play’ proffers a label that aims at generic status but never achieves it because, perhaps, content is never a particularly sound foundation for generic definition. If the classification is pragmatically valuable, however, this is because the sort of play that Hunter describes was decidedly popular through the 1580s and 1590s, whether or not it was generically distinct. If the publishers of the first folio could distinguish a relatively coherent species of drama in the table of contents – distinct from comedies and tragedies – then they were able to do so because the collection of plays they assembled under ‘HISTORIES’ shared features that correspond to the sorts of features that Hunter identifies. A particular type of play was popular in the 1580s and 1590s, whether or not that type was generically distinct. With this practical fact in mind, I want to think more closely about Hunter’s definition and to ask how ‘intelligible’ history transforms the plays in which it appears. What is the ‘intelligible past’? What is the nature of the special ‘relationship’ between an audience and its ‘intelligible past’ on stage? How does a history play – in its form, dramaturgy and habits of thought – help to establish this relationship? This chapter treats Shakespeare’s Henry V as an exemplary history play, or as one that effectively illustrates features that I treat as characteristic of the form. By attending to the play’s concerns with ‘recent’ history, I argue, we can ultimately get a sense of how ‘intelligibility’ is created in the plays identified as history plays. Assuming that the past staged in history plays is, in Hunter’s terms, particularly intelligible, then we might assume that this intelligibility is determined by the context in which a play was performed. In this sense, the special relationship between an audience and the staged past in history plays might be understood as a matter of popular historical knowledge, meaning that the diegetic reality is somehow more engaging because it is already familiar to the audience in the theatre. The relationship between diegetic reality and the reality of the theatre may be uniquely evocative, say, because the historical/diegetic content is common


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currency. When dealing with the content of early modern history plays, such an assumption might be warranted by the proliferation of histories treating the same material. As Cyrus Mulready argues, following D. R. Woolf’s influential account of chronicle histories and their ‘parasite genres’, history plays such as Shakespeare’s Henry V were part of a transformation in early modern historical culture, one that made history reading a popular pastime by offering ‘simplified, entertaining, and easily-­ digestible version[s]’ of English history; such histories were more affordable and less intimidating than hefty chronicles, while ‘still promising readers the edifying knowledge of important past events’.11 The past staged by history plays was already intelligible because that history was ubiquitous in digests, broadside ballads and newsbooks. This material might have been common currency in part also because it was important to a nascent program of historical self-­understanding. Hunter’s easy periodization is historically sloppy – the end of feudalism in England is a fairly ambiguous historical waypoint – and yet material treating this late- and post-­feudal moment was particularly poignant for a number of reasons. As critics regularly note, this late-feudal material is often considered foundational to the ideology of the Tudor state.12 Even when the material antedates the Wars of the Roses, the historical content is thought to speak in a variety of ways to the early modern state or proto-­nation, as in King John’s or Edward II’s intimations of Reforming impulses prior to the Reformation. In this way, it makes sense that Bale’s King Johan is treated as a forerunner of the early modern history play: it, too, attempts to establish a historical breach in the time of John, after which a Reformed England might be imagined in its nascency. Such historical material was not ‘recent’ in straightforwardly calendrical terms and it was intelligible not only because it was popular; it was ‘recent’ and intelligible because the effects of the staged events continued to be felt by the audience. Such relatively clear periodizing assumptions correspond with looser assumptions of recentness that are difficult to characterize in rigorous historiographical terms. While early

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modern Reformers and ideologues imagined stories of a bygone middle ages against which contemporaneity could be imagined, many of the stories in major history plays would have felt recent simply because, in some respects, they were recent.13 As Keith Thomas argued in The Perception of the Past in Early Modern England, and as Andy Wood has recently confirmed in The Memory of the People, memory was a crucial political and cultural force through the period, particularly in accounts of traditional rights and customs; legal cases between landlords and their tenants, as Wood points out, foregrounded the cultural significance of ‘living memory’ in early modern culture, which transmitted crucial ‘knowledge of the past’ as testimony rather than as print, drama or song.14 With human memory and the oral transmission of memory treated as a significant source of cultural knowledge, ‘living memory’ becomes, as Philip Schwyzer notes, a crucial category in our understanding of early modern historical culture. Legally, for instance, a custom was customary if more than two men could depose that their grandfathers had been aware of it.15 This legal fact translated into a memorial horizon of approximately a hundred years, and it turned material from the end of the Wars of the Roses into something that an early modern audience might treat as practically ‘recent’ in such mnemonic terms. Only in 1635 did Thomas Parr, the last person to claim memory of the Battle of Bosworth Field, die, and only then would such ‘post-­feudal’ history gradually come to seem less familiar.16 On the one hand, this culture of memory could explain the sense that the Battle of Bosworth Field and the Wars of the Roses were ‘recent’. On the other hand, we need to recognize the spuriousness of Parr’s claim: he would have to have been at least 150 years old to remember Bosworth Field in 1635. Parr’s fudging suggests that the ‘living memory’ staged by a large swathe of history plays refers to a broad ‘sense of the past’ rather than to a cognitive or quasi-­legal fact. This living memory nonetheless seems to suggest a degree of intimacy between an early modern audience and the material


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from the previous two centuries, which is the material treated in the majority of history plays, particularly in Shakespeare’s canon. While Schwyzer is convincing when he suggests that the ‘recent’ past was proximate through a few generations, we find in Shakespeare’s play and in other history plays that this recentness is not always taken for granted, but is instead produced with a variety of metatheatrical gestures that creatively manipulate the space between diegetic past and lived present, emphasizing the continuity between the two moments through acts of genealogy. David Scott Kastan and, more recently, Benjamin Griffin have treated the history play as a genre characterized by ‘the plot’s immersion in a historical continuum’; such immersion, however, is ultimately an artefact of representation rather than a brute fact of history, and it is characteristic of the history play’s treatment of the past.17 If early modern history plays emphasized connections between the diegetic past and the theatrical present, they did so in part by incorporating subsequent history into the play’s diegetic reality. This incorporation of action subsequent to the staged action is clearest when the historical content’s significance is determined by subsequent action, or when the play points conspicuously to future action, as we see regularly in plays that would count as histories according to Hunter’s definition. Playwrights can produce this effect by indicating the space of the early modern theatre through explicit prolepsis in a discursive speech to the audience (as in True Tragedy of Richard the Third, which ends with an encomium to the Tudor monarchs); by featuring uncannily precise prophecy (as in Cranmer’s prophecy at the end of Henry VIII, which identifies Elizabeth’s chastity as her most salient characteristic); or by relying on heavy-­handed dramatic irony (as when the Earl of Surrey ends Sir Thomas More while walking More to his death, clearly not recognizing that he, too, will be beheaded by Henry VIII: ‘hence to perfect unknown fates’, he says).18 Such gestures do more than assume that the plot is immersed in a historical continuum; they also draw attention to that continuum,

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pointing beyond the frame of the stage to historical events dwelling between the audience and their staged forebears. This characteristic gesture of early modern history plays is a theme in Shakespeare’s Henry V, a play that points to the artificial temporal limits of the stage more explicitly than any other play in the period. In Henry V, the plot of the play – covering the king’s triumphs in France – is clearly marked by a historical record that exceeds the temporal scope of the play’s action: the prehistory of Agincourt and the subsequent history of Henry VI’s reign frequently punctuate the action on stage, shaping the audience’s experience of the staged action. The weight of an extra-­diegetic historical future is perhaps clearest in the Epilogue, where the Chorus claims that the staged action marked a brief halcyon age in a longer history of trauma, catastrophe and historical confusion – a ‘small time’ during ‘which the world’s best garden’ was won (Epilogue.5–7). The stage’s inadequacies, then, are not only spatial, as the opening Chorus famously suggests – ‘Can this cockpit hold / The vasty fields of France?’ (1.0.11–12). The stage’s failures are also temporal: ‘Our bending author hath pursued the story, / In little room confining mighty men, / Mangling by starts the full course of their glory’ (Epilogue.4–6). By the end of Henry V, this narrative openness recursively ironizes the play’s comedic conclusion as the rhythm of history is written in unsettling, counterpointed rhymes. In an antitriumphalist tone, the verb ‘to succeed’ – evoking both the unfolding of time through succession as well as Henry’s accomplishment – resolves in blood: Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned king Of France and England did this king succeed; Whose state so many had the managing, That they lost France and made his England bleed (Epilogue.9–12) This marks the success reported in the play as soon to be superseded, when Henry V’s successor proves too weak to manage conflict among his councillors.


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Even without the choric nod to a proximate future, the audience would recognize the historical continuum because Henry V is persistently interested in questions of genealogy and the step-­wise relation between the past and the present. When Canterbury implores Henry to go, ‘my dread lord, to your great-­grandsire’s tomb / From whom you claim’, and to invoke the ‘warlike spirit’ of his great Uncle, Edward the Black Prince, he makes concrete the genealogical logic in which the play traffics (1.2.103–5): a claim to the throne is a matter of forebears and inheritors, or about the sequential links between past and present. With this sense of history in mind, Canterbury’s extended speech dealing with Salic law, right as the play opens, becomes particularly evocative. While succession was, as Richard Dutton notes, a matter of considerable topical interest when Henry V was written, the Salic-­law speech also undertakes the work of cultural genealogy that the play explores and ultimately performs.19 Frequently derided as pedantic and on ‘the brink of risibility’, the speech ultimately succeeds precisely because it is pedantic (linked etymologically through ‘ped-’ to ‘steps’): because it fills the gap between a presumably foundational past in the age of Pharamond and the present in which the play takes place.20 Where Dutton’s ‘topicality’ suggests historical homology – as in the past, so too now – the Salic-­law speech is more carefully concerned with minutiae, or the continuity of history. After offering a long story of inheritance and false inheritance, of usurpation and other forms of false genealogy, Canterbury provides a story of Salic law as a source of legitimacy according to King Pepin’s title, and Hugh Capet’s claim, King Louis his satisfaction, all appear To hold in right and title of the female. So do the kings of France unto this day. (1.2.88–91) The detailed account of progenitors here fills a historical vacuum between Pharamond, the legendary Frankish king,

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and the throne on which French kings sit ‘unto this day’. This consideration of continuity and genealogical coherence produces history on a comprehensible or ‘intelligible’ scale, and it recalls Heywood’s claims about the value of the history plays: ‘what man have you now’, he asks in his Apology for Actors, ‘that cannot discourse of any notable thing recorded even from William the Conquerour, nay, from the landing of Brute, untill this day?’21 History is valuable for Heywood or for Canterbury not as a source for topical comparisons, but for recounting the necessary minutiae of ‘any notable thing’. As Heywood suggests and Shakespeare’s Chorus explains, the history of the Wars of the Roses was felt intimately by early modern audiences because ‘our stage hath shown’ it often (Epilogue.13). An audience could be expected, the Chorus assumes, to know ‘the full course’ of the history in which Henry V played a part (5.Chorus.4), and to subsume the stage action into that full course with only a slight reminder. This is a matter not of cultural competence, as Mulready suggests, but rather of theatrical literacy. The form of sequential history told on the stage is a historiographical problem – the plays have ‘Mangl[ed] by starts the full course of . . . glory’ (Epilogue.4) – and it is an aesthetic problem that the play addresses by pointing up that continuity again. In this sense, Henry V is part of a longer theatrical sequence of plays engaging with a specific set of cultural memories, and the Chorus assumes that the play’s staged action is part of a continuous process rather than an isolated event. By assuming (correctly or not) the audience’s knowledge, the Chorus produces the ‘historical continuum’ in which, as Griffin claims, a plot might be immersed.22 The assumption also points to a specific idea about how historical drama is expected to make meaning. The ‘full course’ of history is, in the Chorus’s reminder, implied in the stage action, just as the battlefields of France are implied by stage action. With gestures towards this implied frame, staged moments are necessarily tainted by subsequent catastrophes or antecedent, irredeemable losses. In the example of historiographical failure that Fluellen offers, the play endorses this vision of processual, narrative


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history over topical history. Alexander the Great, for Fluellen, is best understood as a secular antitype for King Henry, a figure forged by a geography and a culture so similar to Henry’s that the latter’s historical immortality is, like Alexander’s, guaranteed. Explaining to Gower the inevitable identification of Alexander and Henry, Fluellen points out the similarities in background that make the comparison inevitable: I think it is e’en Macedon where Alexander is porn. I tell you, captain, if you look in the maps of the woreld, I warrant you sall find, in the comparisons between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon and there is also moreover a river at Monmouth. It is called Wye at Monmouth, but it is out of my prains what is the name of the other river. But ’tis all one, ’tis alike as my fingers is to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark Alexander’s life well, Harry of Monmouth’s life is come after it indifferent well, for there is figures in all things. (4.7.22–33) The object of parody here is a form of humanist historical inquiry that mined the past for topical exempla that could guide future action or explain the present. At its most ambitious and rigorous, the humanist project would account for broadly cultural forces in the making of historical moments, not only looking at the character of great men when establishing a comparison, but also exploring economy, geography, political and legal institutions, and so on, rendering comparable ‘situations’, to use Fluellen’s term.23 At its worst, as Fluellen demonstrates, meaningful comparison could be reduced to superficial, presumably irrelevant, factors, such as rivers and the salmon in those rivers. In such a method, Alexander the Great becomes a mythic type or a ‘figure’ rather than a historical person enmeshed in a cultural scene, bound narratively to the present. Risible in Fluellen’s comparison between Alexander and Henry is the fantasy of commensurability between Alexander’s

Is Henry V Still a History Pl ay?


Macedonia and Henry’s Monmouth: one a great classical kingdom, the other a provincial Welsh town that Fluellen’s nationalism makes grand. But this moment doesn’t provide the play’s ultimate statement on historical thought. In Altman’s influential reading of this scene, combining it with Canterbury’s opening speech on Salic law, Henry V demonstrates the embarrassing truth of all historical inquiry, exposing both its inanity and its mendacity. ‘By rendering the exemplary parallel absurd’, claims Altman, ‘[Fluellen] demeans the credibility of such activity even as he indulges his audience’s desire for it’.24 While Altman seems right here in pointing to the self-­consciousness of the play’s historical vision, reducing the play’s vision of history to Fluellen’s apparent delusion and Canterbury’s arguable mendacity is to flatten the play’s complex engagement with historical thought. Rather than suggesting that Fluellen’s failures as a historian are the truth of the play’s historical vision, the scene becomes more complex as it continues and allows Fluellen to be more effective in his engagement with the past. Once the Battle of Agincourt ends in English victory, Fluellen seems less a punchline than a lynchpin in Henry’s project of multi-­state nation building. By the end of the scene Henry has established the name of the battle recently won by the English – an act of historical self-­definition that an audience familiar with the Battle of Agincourt would find retrospectively portentous. Here, Fluellen establishes the long-­running history that has bound the English and the Welsh since the reign of ‘Your grandfather of famous memory . . . and your great-­uncle Edward the Plack, Prince of Wales’, who have also ‘fought a most prave pattle here in France’ (4.7.82–5). Crucially, Fluellen recounts a recent history to establish the sort of Anglo-Welsh unity on which the play’s nationalist fantasies rely, and he does so by suggesting the intimacy of chronicle history: If your majesty is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps, which, your majesty know,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

to this hour is an honourable badge of the service. And I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon St Tavy’s day. (4.7.87–92) As in Canterbury’s speech on Salic law, chronicle history here is reduced to the scale of biography and genealogy through Henry’s ‘grandfather of famous memory’ (John of Gaunt, so familiar that he appears without a name) and his great-­uncle Edward of Woodstock. Mediated by genealogy and a sense of narrative obligation, Fluellen ultimately establishes a relation between Wales and England that leads Henry to put a leek in his cap. Not a vague and fantastical story about the unity of Britain from time immemorial to the present day, this story is also different from the self-­conscious irony that Altman detects around Fluellen’s historical inquiry. Resisting Altman’s identification of a wry self-­consciousness in the scene, the patina of sincerity and sentimentality glossing over its second half offers a counterpoint to the sort of historiographical scepticism that Altman detects around Fluellen. This vision of a more sophisticated and complex Fluellen corresponds with recent shifts in critical sentiment towards his character, and points to other ways that one might relate past and present without falling into vague platitudes or mere homologies.25 This staged argument about historiography’s efficacy and import offers a useful context for understanding the play’s commemorative labour, whose association of stagey jingoism with acts of memorialization narratively tie the play’s audience to its characters. In the Crispin’s Day speech, for instance, the king offers a proleptically retrospective insight that treats an early modern audience as heirs to the diegetic present. He that outlives this day and comes safe home . . . Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’

Is Henry V Still a History Pl ay?


Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’ Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot, But he’ll remember, with advantages, What feats he did that day. Then shall our names. Familiar in his mouth as household words Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story shall the good man teach his son. (4.3.41, 45–52) Schwyzer notes that Shakespeare frequently invokes the early modern present from the staged past by anticipating it: ‘When characters in Shakespeare’s plays start talking about the future’, he argues, ‘they are more often than not talking about what his audience called the present’.26 What seems striking in the Crispin’s Day speech, however, is a future that is concrete rather than abstract, a world emerging from the diegetic present as stories handed down. This speech offers not a nostalgic nod to moments of earlier glory, as in Fluellen’s vision of glorious Monmouth, but a moment of transmission. The story of a band of brothers moves genealogically from father to son in this account, binding past and present in a matter of sequence. When, as Heywood suggests, an audience might weep at the staged death of Talbot, the Crispin’s Day speech insists that ‘Bedford and Exeter, / Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester’ are forebears, whose lives relate to an early modern audience as Henry might relate to his noble grandfather or great-­uncle. Only three generations away from the early modern present, the Battle of Agincourt might still be recounted around a table, a family story rather than a distant event. This is the sort of history that remains ‘intelligible’, in Hunter’s phrase, and refuses to be ‘assimilated to Apollo’, in Badiou’s.27 When treating similar questions of the distinction between ‘our times’ and the distant past, Schwyzer describes


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commemorative practices against the horizon of inter­ generational human memory, and he does so in a way that, according to Henry V, would be curiously too precise. Establishing a schedule for the memorialization of the past, Schwyzer argues that: societies tend to revisit events twenty to thirty years after their occurrence: the first cycle of collective memory is associated with the construction of narratives, memorials, authoritative accounts. The second cycle, fifty to sixty years after the event, differs in its commemorative priorities: as the last witnesses near the ends of their lives, anxieties center on the transmission of personal memory. Finally, we may detect yet another cycle at the outer limit of what Walter Map called ‘our times’, that is, 100 to 120 years. At this point the original event is passing beyond communicable memory into the comparatively inert past.28 After his sophisticated engagement with contemporary memory studies and his subtle account of Richard III’s afterlives, the specificity of Schwyzer’s account – twenty to thirty years; fifty to sixty years; 100 to 120 years – seems oddly stilted. The specificity seems even stranger when he invokes categories that echo Hunter’s and Badiou’s impressionistic distinctions between the intelligible and mythic past – ‘communicable memory’, and the ‘comparatively inert past’, for Schwyzer. In light of Henry V’s meditations on the proximate past, the precise periodization seems unable to account for the various ways that the past may be made proximate and intelligible. The past, Shakespeare’s play suggests, never lives in a particularly straightforward relation to memory but must instead be reached by acts of narrativization, stories about grandfathers and great-­uncles and stories told by fathers to sons through which the relation between past and present might be produced. The past becomes unintelligible not when a certain time has lapsed, but when a certain readily coherent narrative falls apart. This is the phenomenon that leads, as I mentioned above, to the sense of

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narrative abruption around the Reformation, once the unReformed past might become somewhat ultimately distant from the present because its defining characteristics are so alien. The Wars of the Roses, in this account, would remain particularly familiar not because they were necessarily recent, but because they could be tied so readily to the present with familiar narrative threads on which Henry V relies, woven together as the Tudor myth. ‘Our stage’, that is, ‘hath shown it often’ (Epilogue.13). Because Henry V is so assiduous in this model of historical inquiry, establishing a sense of historical continuity rather than searching for topical reference, its role in modern performance history seems strange. This play that takes seriously the imperative to establish the ‘intelligibility’ of Henry V is frequently staged as if Henry were ‘an ancient conqueror’, one who might be readily mythologized. When Fluellen makes himself look historically dim by comparing Henry to Alexander the Pig, his most serious error is methodological: the proximate Henry is reduced to a vague type like Alexander. This account of historical comparison suggests that topicality might not offer the most rigorous or illuminating engagement with the past, and the rest of Henry V attempts to show that habits of topical reference – turning the past into fodder for comparison – are at the source of superficial encomium. And yet this is precisely the role that Henry V, bodied forth in Shakespeare’s play, has so frequently been asked to perform when staged or invoked, as if speaking to everything from British valour in the Second World War (Olivier’s production) to George W. Bush’s putative trans­ formation and maturation after 9/11. As Fernie suggests, the ubiquity of Henry V in such a wide variety of politically fraught contexts is curious and unsettling, as if the play were too ideologically versatile, making it so powerful that it becomes fatuous. Referring to the instrumentalization of the play by the US armed forces and Rich Lowry’s claims in The National Review about Bush’s post-9/11 leadership, Fernie points out that this ideological versatility


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makes Shakespeare’s presence in the present disturbingly vivid and important. Henry V dramatises a great heroic victory, but what does it mean to pack an Armed Services Edition of the play in your kit bag? What exactly are Olivier and the supporters of Bush and Blair identifying with or unleashing when they exploit the play’s motivational force?29 Listening to Henry V, the answer to these questions is clear: Olivier and supporters of American military adventurism are misreading the play when they imagine its motivational force. To regard the play as an impetus for motivation in the present is to disregard its lessons about history. Of course, disregarding a play’s lessons about history is what drama, at its best, does. Because drama is necessarily in and of the present, it would be facile, artistically uninteresting and – perhaps most significantly – utterly impossible to insist on ‘true fidelity’ to the history play that Shakespeare wrote. Such a call for fidelity would be particularly wrongheaded because when we think of the early modern history play, we recognize that the scene in which a play is performed relates, somehow, to the diegetic content: the play makes a certain type of sense when the scene of its production is understood in a specific relation to the action. While Henry V is likely less ‘intelligible’ than he was in 1599, perhaps the goal of any production of Henry V is to rethink the very question of intelligibility, or to ask questions about what actually counts in Henry V as ‘real politics’. Its contemporary topicality may, as we see in Fluellen’s fumbling notes on Alexander, become a source of embarrassment, but it might also become something quickening and engaging when a modern audience is forced to look at the face of the sort of wars, rhetoric, fantasies and violence on which the modern political settlement is founded.

6 Allusion, Temporality and Genre in Troilus and Cressida and Pericles Lauren Shohet

Both Troilus and Cressida (composed c. 1601, first printed 1609) and Pericles (c. 1609) are strange plays.1 The former is a tragedy in which no protagonists die; the latter is a theatrical romance featuring the ghost of a medieval author repeatedly warning the audience how ill-­suited it will find the theatre for the story they have come to hear. The strangeness of both, I shall argue, derives from their shared interest in how to stage – and live with – plots inherited from the literary past. The plays invite common consideration in a volume about temporality and form because both thematize their uses of the past while differing profoundly in genre and affect, the former being a satiric tragedy and the latter a tragi-­comic romance. Both plays are interested in relations between past iteration and present drama at the level of plot, form, medium and character. Their differences in genre, across their similar questions of how to dynamically inhabit a literary legacy, illuminate relations of form and temporality.


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Genre, temporality and audience response The different generic profiles of Troilus and Cressida and Pericles set up different audience relationships to their archivally rooted plots. Troilus shows luminously famous Homeric figures interacting in strikingly quotidian ways, bringing alive the literary-­historical setting of ancient Ilium in ways that seem of a piece with daily experience both in early modern England and today. Troilus’s tragedy – the genre marking accorded this complex play in the Folios – plays out its inevitable trajectory of loss in terms that move the audience all the more for feeling familiar.2 The ‘low’ or satiric character of Troilus’s tragedy (see the archetypal schema in Figure  1.1 in this volume’s introduction) describes the characters’ ignobility (against the supererogatory virtue Aristotle ascribes to properly tragic personages, who are ‘better than the men of the present day’), and when the play, like real life, offers no decisive resolutions at its end.3 Nothing definitive happens to either protagonist – no cathartic death, no celebratory marriage, not even any promise of concrete future action. Pandarus’s epilogue offers the play’s only gesture towards transformative conclusion when he projects his demise from syphilis ‘two months hence’ (5.11.52). In place of accustomed theatrical versions of ritual tragedy’s post-­sacrificial feast (confirming common wisdom, joining in applause), Pandarus shares infection with the audience: he promises to ‘bequeath you my diseases’ (5.11.56). The large-­scale view of archetypal logic set out in this volume’s introduction (see Figure 1.1) clarifies the stakes of this epilogue. In this satiric, infernal segment of tragedy’s cycle, Troilus’s closing gestures towards transformation (disease and deferred death) and recuperation of fractured community (sharing infection, not catharsis or redemption) are bitterly amusing and claustrophobically shrunken. Pericles, by contrast, removes its action from the audience’s lived world, trading instead in the unlikely coincidences and

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non-­mimetic tropes of romance. Its characters live through exotic episodes reported to the audience rather than being presented on stage because, the chorus-­figure Gower tells us, they are too temporally and spatially expansive for our spectatorial capacities (as when he instructs ‘Imagine Pericles arrived at Tyre’ [4.0.1], or ‘take [y]our imagination / From bourn to bourn, region to region’ [4.4.3–4], or ‘with [Pericles’] sternage shall your thoughts go on – / To fetch [Marina] home’ [4.4.19–20]). Pericles’ thrillingly unlikely adventures – chastity outsells sex in brothel! shipwrecked prince washes up on unknown shore to find late father’s armour! embalmed woman revives! – are more saturated with providential harmony than life customarily proves to be. Less happy but equally non-­ mimetic to modern-­day audiences (although perhaps less odd in an early ­modern culture of fostering) is Pericles’ years-­long, diegetically unmotivated delay in seeking his distant daughter. Once the family reunites, the enchanted machinery of comedic closure is dramatically satisfying, but likewise removed from the mimetic world. The play gathers the three dispersed members of Pericles’ nuclear family from their several sufferings of burial at sea, sex slavery and catatonic depression. Abetted by the deus ex machina of Diana descending from the heavens, Pericles’ tale is tied off with magical completeness, with the parent generation conveniently inheriting the grandparental crown in Pentapolis just as the daughter marries, yielding the next generation the throne of Tyre. Referring to the generic schema diagrammed in Figure 1.1 shows the broad romance stakes of the play’s end. The characters are recuperated from states variously close to death (Marina from the sadistic bawds, Pericles from aphasic catatonia, Thaisa from coma), combustion purges the wicked, virtue ennobles Lysimachus (an erstwhile client in the sex trade), nuptials ensue and Pericles’ dynasty doubles its sovereign holdings. The plots of both plays are imbued with an allusive prehistory that becomes part of their temporal profile. Troilus and Cressida stages the Matter of Troy: the ur-­narrative of the Western poetic tradition. This was not only transmitted through culturally


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exalted Homeric epic, but also was known to non-­elite audiences through translations.4 The Matter of Troy also underwrote a wide variety of treatments in popular forms, including Boccaccio’s Filostrato, Chaucer’s Troylus and Criseyde, Caxton’s Recuyell of the Historyes of Troy and (closer to Shakespeare’s day) Greene’s Euphues (1587) and George Peele’s Tale of Troy (1589).5 Wide cultural familiarity with ancient Greek characters is indicated by Montaigne’s exclamation that: nothing liveth so in mens mouthes as [Homer’s] name and his workes; nothing so knowne and received as Troy, as Helen and her warres . . . Our children are yet called by the names he invented three thousand years since and more. Who knoweth not Hector? Who hath not heard of Achilles?6 The currency of imagining contemporary experience through reference to Trojan-­war heroes is evident in comparisons of the Earl of Essex to Achilles: Chapman’s Homer cites Essex as the ‘now living instance of the Achillean virtues’, and other 1590s writers, including Hugh Platt and Vincentio Saviolo, also make the connection between the English nobleman and the Hellenic hero.7 Not only Greek-­literate audiences, then, but also the broad spectatorship of the Shakespearean theatre, would recognize the Trojan War as a dramatic context that pointedly refers to prior tellings. The corresponding evocation of the literary past in Pericles is localized in the choric character it makes of the medieval poet John Gower. The primary source of Pericles’ plot, Gower’s fourteenth-­century Confessio Amantis, is perhaps neither more nor less present in the Shakespearean Pericles than Holinshed’s chronicles are in Macbeth, or Greene’s Pandosto in The Winter’s Tale. But Gower the character is an unusually prominent chorus. He not only introduces all five acts and declaims an epilogue (the Chorus of Henry V does likewise), but also offers additional speeches between scenes. Declaiming in the tetrameter couplets of the historical Gower’s own poetry, endowed with a proper name, Gower refers to himself and his

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back-­story in a way other Shakespearean choruses do not. As a figure for allusion, Gower’s presence in Pericles is notable. Pericles opens with Gower averring his own superannuation and his reiterative practice: ‘To sing a song that old was sung / From ashes ancient Gower is come’ (1.0.1).8 Gower advertises his tale’s familiarity: already, it ‘hath been sung at festivals’, ‘And lords and ladies in their lives / Have read it for restoratives’ (1.0.6, 8–9). Gower does not defend the stage’s adequacy to this tale which he claims already is admired from oral recitations and elite reading. Quite the opposite: he enumerates the theatre’s incapacity to encompass the passage of time, a failing that he offers to recompense with poetic re-­mediation (‘Only I carry winged time / Post on the lame feet of my rhyme’ [4.0.47–8, my emphasis]). Poetic narration, too, is insufficient without an audience’s indulgence: ‘Which never could I so convey / Unless your thoughts went on my way’ (4.0.49–50).9 In this, Gower sounds like the Prologue of Henry V, who asks for the audience’s help to remedy the spatial limitations of what ‘this cockpit’ can hold (by ‘suppos[ing] within the girdle of these walls / Are now confined two mighty monarchies’ [H5 Prologue.19–20]), and likewise to recompense temporal constraints (by thinking the ‘thoughts’ that can ‘turn . . . th’accomplishment of many years / Into an hour’s glass’ [H5 Prologue.30–1]). But Gower is unlike Henry V’s Prologue in that he delineates textual sources for his knowledge. He promises that ‘I’ll tell you what mine authors say’ (1.0.20) and annotates his description of Philoten and Marina’s friendship with ‘it is said / For certain in our story’ (4.0.18–19). As lector, Gower also recounts the contents of letters we see delivered, in pantomime, to Pericles at Simonides’ court (3.0.24), and he reads out the epitaph that Dionyza has had inscribed on Marina’s supposed tomb in Tarsus (4.4.33–44). Accordingly, the frontispiece to George Wilkins’ 1608 Painfull Adventures of Pericles (a prose version of the story by Shakespeare’s likely collaborating playwright) depicts Gower standing at a lectern that displays an open book.10 It also, polychronically, names Gower as both ancient source and contemporary orator: the


Temporality, Genre and Experience

book claims to render ‘the True History of the play of Pericles, as it was lately presented by the worthy and ancient Poet John Gower’ (Figure 6.1).11

FIGURE 6.1  Title page, The Painfull Adventures of Pericles, Prince of Tyre ([1608], 1857) (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

Allusion, Temporality and Genre


Where Gower pointedly turns to inherited stories for his tale, Troilus’s Prologue instead feigns to imbue the play’s opening with dramatic suspense: ‘Now good or bad, ’tis but the chance of war’, he intones (Prologue.31). ‘Suited / In like conditions as our argument’ (1.0.24–5) rather than standing aside from the dramatic action as the omniscient Gower does in Pericles, Troilus’s armed-­warrior Prologue deictically asserts the scene’s immediacy: ‘Now on Dardan plains / The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch / Their brave pavilions’ (Prologue.12–14, my emphasis); ‘Now expectation . . . / Sets all on hazard’ (Prologue.20–2, my emphasis). But this Prologue betrays a consciousness of source that belies his implication that the spectacle is immediate and as-­ yet undecided. He advertises that he is adapting the narrative protocol of opening in medias res, which imitates his epic source: ‘our play / Leaps o’er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, / Beginning in the middle’ (Prologue.27–8). And pointing to ‘yet unbruised Greeks’ limns a chronology already known from literary history.12 Gower offers the familiarity of Pericles’ serial adventures as assurance that the stories, ‘festive’ and ‘restorative’, will please. (This delight in the oft-­aired infuriated Ben Jonson, who disparaged the Shakespearean Pericles as a ‘moldy tale’.13) In romance, the predictable unfolding of any single iteration recuperates individual instance into harmonious cosmic pattern. The stories are the same because The Story is the same; as with ritual, repetition makes reality.14 In the satiric context of Troilus and Cressida, by contrast, reiteration entraps. When Cressida concludes her love vow to Troilus by expressing such confidence in her own fidelity that she offers herself as the rhetorical ground for future proverbs should she swerve – ‘let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood, / “As false as Cressid” ’ (3.2.190–1) – the audience’s knowledge that this will indeed come to pass, based in their experience of prior literary history, makes a bitter constraint out of the foregoing knowledge that, in Pericles, produces pleasure.15 An even stronger version of this dynamic plays out in Troilus when Pandarus proposes that if the lovers prove untrue, ‘let all pitiful goers-­between be


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called to the world’s end after my name; call them all panders’ (3.2.195–7). When betrayal indeed occurs, the consequence for posterity is not only proverbial comparison (the phrase ‘as false as Cressid’ retains distance in its ‘as’), but direct lexicalization (‘pander’ as common noun and verb, uttered not to compare but to express). The two plays’ different responses to precedent stem from their genres’ relations to allusive prehistory. ‘With romance’, writes Northrop Frye, ‘it’s harder to avoid the feeling of convention, that the story is one of a family of stories . . . we are led quickly from what the individual says to what the entire convention it belongs to is saying through the work’.16 In romance, reiteration redemptively assimilates singularity. This plays out at the local level of metre as well as in the larger framework of plot and indeed cosmology. Rhyme adduces to romance’s ethos of fertile predictability. Giorgio Agamben indicates the affordances of rhyme for expressing cosmic vision: in formally patterned verse, ‘the announcement and retrieval of rhyming end words . . . transform . . . chronological time into messianic time’.17 The verse, that is, ‘defines itself only at the point at which it ends’, and rhyming verse shares with worldviews that extend to the end of time an understanding of ‘the end’ as ‘the source of consonance’.18 This makes the intervening parts of the poetic line ‘like the katechon’: that is, ‘something that slows and delays the advent of the Messiah’, ending only with final fulfilment.19 One time frame for Gower’s tetrameter, then, might be eternal cosmic harmony. Polychronically, the metre also works in two other ways. First, its archaism marks the historical difference between older and newer poetic forms. Second, the experience of rhyme itself is insistently of the moment: the sound of a couplet’s first line demands its conclusion, marking the period in which we await it (attention as awaiting, attendere), like a leading tone demanding tonic resolution in a musical cadence. When Pericles is reunited with the ‘dearly loved’ armour that his father bequeathed him (2.1.126), the verses in which he testifies to apparent misfortune having restored his past to him – that is, in which he witnesses to romance – turn to rhyming

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couplets: ‘. . . the rough seas, that spares not any man, / Took it in rage, though calmed have given’t again. / I thank thee for’t. My shipwreck now’s no ill, / Since I have here my father gave in his will’ (2.1.127–30). Like verses grouped by rhyming sounds, individual romances gain resonance from belonging to a set. Romance prizes neither innovation nor individuality.20 Telling the story of Pericles, accordingly, Gower adumbrates the inadequacy of any single rendition, or any single medium, for rendering his conventional tale. Gower proposes speech, listening, drawing, imagination and dumb-­show as collaborative components: ‘. . . Be attent, / And time that is so briefly spent / With your fine fancies quaintly eche. / What’s dumb in show I’ll plain with speech’ (3.0.10–13). Pantomime follows, revealing Pericles receiving a letter and Thaisa entering with a new baby; Gower then offers more couplets that fill in the content of the transaction: ‘The men of Tyrus on the head / Of Helicanus would set on / The crown of Tyre, but he will none’ (3.1.26–8). This multimedia sequence shows the variable abilities of different media: gesture’s broad strokes and verbal art’s detail.21 Highlighting the shortcomings of any given form, deploying a range of media, and inviting the audience’s imaginative collaboration to sketch the narrative that exceeds theatrical capacity, Gower indicates the fullness of Pericles’ providential story. For romance, more versions are better, and recapitulation is delightful. In Troilus and Cressida, by contrast, evoking multiple versions, especially versions from past sources, more often diminishes the present.22 The play notably hews more closely to its Homeric source in early scenes than it does later on, attenuating as it progresses. The Prologue faithfully follows the Iliad in citing the ‘sixty and nine’ Greek kings who departed Athens for Tenedos and the ‘Dardan plains’ (Prologue.5–13). Similarly, the audience’s first view of the famous Trojan warriors, when they file into the city after the day’s battle, recalls the teichoskopia or ‘from-­the-walls-­view’ scene of Iliad 3. But from early on, Troilus mixes the epic contexts of


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Troy with other versions, with effects that confuse and diminish the characters. When the armed Prologue concludes his speech, in the ‘middle’ of bellicose ‘conditions’, he yields the stage with a dramatic flourish to whatever the ‘chance of war’ will bring and, presumably, ducks back into ongoing battle. Where does the next scene open? Not in medias res bellicas on the Dardan plains, but rather with Troilus unarming, ‘within’ the walls of Troy, swooning over lovesickness that has joined ‘cruel battle’ and ‘master[ed] . . . his heart’ (1.1.1–4). This is not epic, but romance, and Troilus is no hero, but a pining lover. The palace wall marks a boundary between ancient epic and medieval romance, between what is known from Homer and what is inherited from Boccaccio and Chaucer and Caxton. The first exchange within the walls focuses on failure: Troilus’s broken equipment. When Pandarus asks, ‘Will this gear ne’er be mended?’ (1.1.6.), we cannot tell whether military or amorous armour is in question. Whichever we imagine, it is not in working order. In Pericles, multiple versions (whether pantomime and speech, or present iteration and source text) complement one another. In Troilus and Cressida, their relationship is more often corrosive. The Prologue’s narrative exposition of the Greek camp, for instance, promises the audience ‘crownets regal’ (Prologue.6) in ‘brave pavilions’ (Prologue.15): the epic grandeur of ‘princes orgulous, their high blood chafed’ (Prologue.2). When the play brings that spectacle before us, however, it presents instead the ‘rank Thersites’ (1.3.73), the palsied Nestor (1.3.174), an Achilles who – unlike in the Iliad – will not explain why he declines to fight (‘What’s his excuse?’ ‘he doth rely on none’ [2.3.160]): in short, an epidemic of ‘pale and bloodless emulation’ (1.3.133). The nadir of Greek degeneracy, at least according to Ulysses, is Patroclus’s parodic imitation of the Greek leaders: ‘with ridiculous and awkward action – / Which, slanderer, he imitation calls – / He pageants us’ (1.3.149). This is debased citation, re-­presentation that diminishes its original.23 Worse yet, in reiterative performance, it is not easy to distinguish parody from honourable imitatio.

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Aeneas asks upon arriving in the Greek camp how characters known only by reputation can be identified in the flesh: ‘How may / A stranger to those most imperial looks / Know them from eyes of other mortals?’ (1.3.223–4). Aeneas’s very question brings in the related problem of distinguishing satiric scorn from epic honour. This frustrates Agamemnon: ‘This Trojan scorns us, or the men of Troy / Are ceremonious courtiers’ (1.3.233–4, my emphasis). There is no way for the Greeks, or for us, to know how Aeneas intends his flowery inherited language of courtesy scripts to be understood. The 1609 quarto of Troilus and Cressida imposes similar questions upon its readers. The preface to the ‘Eternal Reader’ begins by advertising the pleasures of reading a play that has not yet been performed: ‘you have here a new play, never staled with the stage, never clapper-­clawed with the palms of the vulgar’.24 The verb ‘clapper-­clawed’ is the same one that the slimy Thersites uses to describe dismissively the hand-­to-hand combat of Diomedes and Troilus in the play’s final battle: ‘Now they are clapper-­clawing one another’ (5.4.1). Compared to this, reading pure pages ‘never staled with the stage’ is appealingly sanitary. But the claim of a virgin Troilus, in 1609, is transparently counterfactual. True, it does not appear to have been printed before this (although it was entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1603). But possible topical references in the play to the Essex Rebellion, mooted Jonsonian reference to the play in the poetomachia of 1599–1601, and thematic/ stylistic overlap with other Shakespearean plays of the years around the turn of the century lead editors to place it in repertoire well before 1609.25 Given this, the advertisement ‘A Never Writer to an Ever Reader. News’ at the top of the preface can only be said to pander. It claims novelty for what is patently old, and pimps pre-­performed assets as un-­clapper-clawed. It pulls dramatic reading into the play’s own debased economy. Romance polychronicity, by contrast, centrally and generatively layers pasts, presents and futures. Romance proves particularly suited to staging what Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood term ‘anachronism’; what Jonathan Gil


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Harris and Julian Yates call polychronicity; what Madhavi Menon and Jonathan Goldberg theorize as queer temporality.26 Unapologetically invested in reuse and recycling, romance wanders through times as well as the places we more often associate with its errancy. This is one sense of the ‘secular scripture’ – the writing of time – in Frye’s titular description of the mode.27 Temporal overlays arise in romance’s frank artifice, in recycling and rearticulation. Multiple time frames come in the different moments of romance writing, their moments of reading, the corresponding moments in the sources that they adapt, and in the imagined pasts represented in those sources (which surface in even the oldest surviving Hellenic examples, in their claims to derive from origins longer ago and farther away).28 What would be quotidian when initially lived (incidence) or perceived (cognition) becomes coincidence and recognition, acquiring the magical sheen of romance when experienced through the overlayering of time frames that yields events their full meaning.29

Genre, temporality and character response In Troilus and Cressida, the operations of allusive repetition are uneasy. This is due, in part, to Troilus’s locating questions of citationality and repetition in terms more of character than of representational strategy. The difficulties of what Elizabeth Freund calls ‘citational identity’ are encapsulated in the scene of Pandarus and Cressida watching from the palace wall as the Trojans return from the day’s battle.30 The scene adapts Iliad 3, where Priam calls Helen to join him on the ramparts to ‘tell . . . the name of that tremendous fighter’.31 When Homer’s Priam asks Helen about the legendary Greeks, she answers at length, from a place of longstanding knowledge and emotional depth, since the goddess Iris has ‘filled [Helen’s] heart with yearning warm and deep / for her husband long ago, her city and

Allusion, Temporality and Genre


her parents’ (Iliad 3.168–9). Helen unfolds her compatriots’ histories and inter-­relationships to a Trojan king who knows them only by reputation.32 The Shakespearean Pandarus, by contrast, stagily recounts to Cressida the names of her own countrymen, whom presumably she already recognizes.33 Worse, he instrumentalizes the viewing, manipulating Cressida to ‘mark Troilus above the rest’ (1.2.17–8) as he concludes every identification with an unfavourable comparison to Troilus: ‘That’s Aeneas . . . one of the flowers of Troy . . . but mark Troilus’ (1.2.180–2); ‘That’s Antenor . . . one o’ th’ soundest judgements in Troy . . . when comes Troilus?’ (1.2.284–7). Pandarus is required by gaps in the epic tradition to sketch these suspect comparisons of the renowned Trojan warriors to their youngest brother (whom Hector later rather patronizingly calls ‘brave boy’ [5.3.35]), not only for the venal aim of inciting Cressida’s passion, but also because his epic source text leaves Troilus out. The youngest of Priam’s fifty sons, Troilus is present in the Iliad only as a posthumous half-­ line entry in a catalogue of what Priam has lost (‘Troilus, passionate horseman’ [Iliad 24.305]). Cressida is entirely absent from Homer. Troilus and Cressida thus returns into the Homeric setting of Troy a romance tale of characters who post-­date it, and Pandarus must strenuously force comparisons in order to produce an identity for a figure who has, like the play itself, come onto the scene too late for epic authenticity. Thomas Greene writes that allusion reaches back to a ‘past we revere and use . . . [that] will remain in some measure anachronized’ by the inevitable misapprehensions of later times.34 For Greene, memory of the past is essential for full experience in the present – it ‘fill[s] our names with content’ – but ‘allusion cannot escape the vulnerability of a construct’.35 On the walls of Ilium in the Iliad, Helen precisely ‘fills’ with content the names that Priam has heard. But in the allusively derivative Troilus and Cressida, there is no source with personal prior history to fully take Helen’s place. The names merely echo.36 The first conversation among Priam’s sons draws on this sense of nomination preceding existence (if not


Temporality, Genre and Experience

supplanting it) in its pointedly stylized dialogue, with structures of appellation that denaturalize the fraternal exchange: troilus

What news, Aeneas, from the field today? aeneas

That Paris is returned home, and hurt. troilus

By whom, Aeneas? aeneas

Troilus, by Menelaus. (1.1.104–6)

The first lines of this stichomythic dialogue sound conversational. Aeneas’s completion of the hemistich, when he begins his response by using his brother’s name in a context that does not call for repeating it, does not. Rather, it heightens artifice in two ways. First, it emphatically – perhaps doggedly – addresses the dramatic requirement of identifying characters for the audience (it is early in the play). Second, the shared line makes a symmetrical mirror on either side of the caesura, as Troilus’s address to the scene’s other actor as ‘Aeneas’ calls his brother into being. When Aeneas responds in kind, he metrically disrupts the regular iambic pentameter of the foregoing (and ensuing) lines, drawing further attention to the brothers’ performativity. Similarly, the artificial symmetry that answers ‘by whom’ at the line’s beginning with ‘by Menelaus’ at the line’s end (instead of first giving the information that answers the question, as would be conversationally expected) highlights the artifice. The way that characters experience their relation to source texts and traditions in Pericles and Troilus and Cressida reveals generically distinctive problems of time management. As has often been discussed, Troilus’s characters seem uneasily aware of their pre-­scripted status. Linda Charnes observes that ‘the figures who inhabit this play are notoriously, “known[,]” . . . these legendary figures . . . try to lay to rest a haunting sense that they are, and are not, “themselves” ’.37 Montaigne

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articulates the promise of Homeric imitatio, the potential to link the present with the past to ennoble both: ‘Not onely some particular races, but most nations, seeke to derive themselves from [Homer’s] inventions’.38 But, as Charnes explores in depth, ‘in Troilus and Cressida, the figures’ legendary status threatens to crush their representational viability as “subject” ’.39 Troilus’s characters ground identity in other persons, or in comparisons to prior or future versions of themselves, leaving no solid ground, nothing ‘wherein ’tis precious of itself’, in Hector’s words (2.2.55): ‘Hector is not Troilus in some degrees’ (1.2.68), says Pandarus; ‘Because [Cressida] is kin to me, therefore she’s not so fair as Helen’ (1.1.71–2). When Pandarus asks Cressida, ‘Do you know a man if you see him?’ (1.2.62–3), she replies, ‘Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him’ (1.2.64). To be known, in this play, requires having already been known, and this recursive impossibility vitiates the ontology of presence. This interrelation of past and present yields no temporal thickening, but rather its opposite. Reiterative identity in romance, by contrast, is productively polychronic. It does not collapse the present into the past, or endlessly repeat an inherited past in the present, but rather fully inhabits a variety of temporal levels. When the near-­ drowned Pericles washes up at the feet of Tarsian fishermen, he tells them, ‘What I have been I have forgot to know; / But what I am, want teaches me to think on’ (2.1.69–70). As a romance hero whose innate nobility of character subtends alteration in outward fortunes, Pericles separates past from present: he has in the present moment ‘forgot to know’ – to dwell consciously upon – what he has been. This leaves both past and present intact and available for thoughtful interrelation in future moments, where satire instead forgets or neurotically repeats. Taking up this strategy on the Tarsian beach saves Pericles: the fishermen offer him present succour for his immediate condition (‘a man thronged up with cold’ [2.1.71]) – and, lo and behold, here he finds nothing other than lost ancestral armour: ‘part of my heritage, / Which my dead father did


Temporality, Genre and Experience

bequeath to me’ (2.1.119–20), reconnecting him with his past and, together with the fishermen’s immediate aid, preparing him for his future. Two opposite challenges beset the polychronic layering that preserves life and meaning in romance: overly perfect alignment that obscures the distinctiveness of different times, and inadequate suturing that misses opportunities for generative interrelation. Complete coincidence makes for sterility, as figured in the generically endemic threats of sexual incest and aesthetic repetition: what Lori Newcomb calls the ‘issue issues’ of ‘begetters begotten’.40 Pericles emphasizes incest as a mistake in temporal categories, of aligning different times so intently that their differences disappear. When Pericles articulates his disgust at the Tarsian princess who is her father’s consort, he uses language of chronicity, not consanguinity: Antiochus’s daughter has been ‘played upon before [her] time’ (1.1.85–6). Embracing the wrong generation flattens temporal difference, knotting up what should extend out. If time frames remained properly distinct, Pericles’ horrified imprecation that Antiochus is ‘now . . . both a father and a son’ (1.1.129) would describe precisely the goal of dynastic propagation. In distinction to Antiochus’s daughter, Marina’s status as both Pericles’ ‘heir’ and bestower of ‘another life to Pericles thy father’ (5.1.196–7) proliferates temporally inflected identities rather than eliding their distinctions. Both child (who inherits) and parent (who gives life), Marina structurally parallels Antiochus’s incestuous daughter, but keeping those roles temporally separate produces happy endings. First apathetic, then hostile (‘doing’ or threatening ‘violence’ to her [5.1.91]), Pericles is revived by overlayering Thaisa onto Marina: My dearest wife was like this maid, My queen’s square brows, Her stature to an inch [She] starves the ears she feeds and makes them hungry The more she gives them speech (5.1.97–101)

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Praising the mother detected in the unrecognized daughter with a figure of nourishment that makes pre-­prandial hunger the consequence of eating, Pericles links and extends the recursive, polychronous structures of romance desire (the miraculous hovering near the incestuous) and romance food (the transcendent hovering near the famishing). Proper recognition of beloveds in their progeny here entails, precisely, re-cognition: the fully polychronous acknowledgement that puts parent and child into relation, that sees one within/before/subsequent to the other, while also apprehending their separation. This romance capacity to turn back, suspend, or recuperate time plays out in aesthetic as well as generational registers. When Marina ‘ ’scapes the brothel’ for ‘an honest house’ (5.0.1–2) through her prowess with ‘speech’ that can ‘alter’ ‘corrupted mind[s]’ (4.5.109–10), her ‘immortal’ singing and ‘goddesslike’ dancing come to supplant language: ‘deep clerks she dumbs’ (5.0.5). Thickening representation, this ostensible supersession is recounted to the audience by the ‘deep clerk’ Gower: Marina both transcends and renews her source when her song and dance are conveyed to the audience in language. Marina’s other post-­brothel undertaking is needlework that rivals natural generation: she ‘with her nee’le composes / Nature’s own shape, of bud, bird, branch, or berry, / That even her art sisters the natural roses. / Her inkle, silk, twin with the rubied cherry’ (5.0.5–8). Like a still-­life painting, Marina’s art layers time frames, presenting buds, flower and fruit all in one moment. This enacts in miniature Marina’s romance capacity to serve as the linchpin of multiple temporalities whose overlay triggers resolution. Marina ‘undoes’ the generation separating her from her lost mother when Pericles recognizes the parent in the daughter’s face, and she engenders generation when she begets her own father by reanimating Pericles out of mourning. The final scenes of Troilus and Cressida and Pericles capture the contrast of joyous romance repetition against satire’s reiterative tedium. They also demonstrate how romance’s repetition leads to new beginnings, unlike satire’s compulsion. Troilus and Cressida’s characters reanimate figures of the


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ancient world for the duration of the play’s performance. But this exercise in reiteration concludes with little resolution for its protagonists. Cressida is not heard from after she follows her new Greek lover Diomedes offstage; Troilus’s penultimate speech describes a persistent state of mind, rather than a course of action: ‘Hope of revenge shall hide our inward woe’ (5.11.31), he promises. The infection that Pandarus bequeaths to the audience similarly blurs closure: if we leave the playhouse having acquired a disease that will develop in the days to come, what is the moment of theatrical release? Pericles, by contrast, embraces repetition that reanimates and transforms. The goddess Diana instructs Pericles to theatrically repeat his adventures yet again, to call the people ‘And give them repetition to the life’ (5.1.233). This repetition gives new life, not only to Pericles’ listeners at Ephesus, but also to Pericles’ audience at the Globe. This fully realized repetition definitively completes its theatrical task. Unlike Troilus’s Pandarus, who never completely relinquishes his connection with the infected audience, Gower definitively proclaims that ‘Here our play has ending’ (Epilogue. 18). He enjoins the audience to move on, into our own world, where ‘New joy wait on you’ (Epilogue.18, emphasis added). Pandarus infects and Troilus haunts; Pericles rejuvenates.

Genre, temporality and historical response Both of these plays were taken up in Restoration performances that illuminate affordances of forms for timing and times for forming. I conclude, then, by exploring how this plays out when Pericles was revived in 1661 and Troilus and Cressida (adapted by Dryden as Truth Found Too Late) in 1679. On 29 August 1660, Parliament passed ‘An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion’, which legally nullified the past eleven years. Charles II and Parliament declared that, excepting the regicides, events

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[a]cted or done since the first day of January in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred thirty seaven . . . [and] before the twenty fourth day of June in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred and sixty . . . be Pardoned Released Indemnified Discharged and put in utter Oblivion.41 This wave of a statutory wand planted in the past an alternative reality that came to be (or, rather, came to have been), through a performative speech act that, like magic, makes word equivalent to effect. Gary Taylor writes that at the Restoration, ‘eighteen years of legislation vanished from the statute books. Part of the past was legally abolished . . . as if a slice of time had been surgically removed’.42 An Act of Oblivion and Indemnity that fuses a happy past with a hopeful future, healing the intervening harms beyond what mere nature can accomplish: this is the stuff of romance. Meetly, Pericles was among the first public theatrical productions of the Restoration. As the return of monarchy was negotiated, Pericles was among the first offerings that John Rhodes presented after acquiring a licence in 1659 for a theatre at the Cock-Pit in Drury Lane. Theatrical book-­keeper and prompter John Downes lists Pericles among the plays in the company’s first season, and Rhodes’ company was granted two months of exclusive rights to perform Pericles at the Salisbury Court theatre in the spring of 1661.43 The play did not long remain in the Restoration repertoire; we have no record of the Shakespearean Pericles being performed between 1661 and 1854. But the resonance of romance logic with the Restoration project precisely around questions of form’s historical uses suggests that romance can mediate imagination and experience for ends of politics as much as art. Recognition, inheritance, magical reparation that weaves a new order healed of ancient breaches. The lure of this romance story, and the debts of history to form, are apparent both in the Restoration fantasy of making the eighteen years between 1642 and 1660 disappear and in the heaviness of their enforced vanishing. If the Act of Oblivion ‘surgically removes’ the


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Interregnum, in Taylor’s phrase, a 1663 digest of Parliamentary legislation suggests the enduringly visible suture of a clumsy surgeon: ‘An exact abridgment of all statutes in force and use, made in the 16th, 17th, & 18th years of the reign of K. Charles the first, and in the 12th, 13th, and 14th years of the reign of K. Charles the second’.44 The copulative between the eighteenth year of Charles I’s reign and the twelfth of Charles II’s (eliding the first through eleventh ostensibly Carolean years) strikes out everything that happened during that ‘and’. Pericles’ years of catatonic withdrawal disappear into just such a gap. And when, in the immediate aftermath of the Restoration, audiences are greeted by a scene of a king overcome by regime change, flight and the loss of his family, viewers surely remarked the Caroline resonance. Even if reopening the theatres turned back the clock, the spectacle on stage recalled the intervening fate of the Stuart royal family. The Shakespearean Pericles extant in 1661 apparently met the needs of Restoration staging, at least without any alterations that left a historical trace. When John Dryden staged and published Troilus and Cressida, or, Truth Found Too Late during the Popish Plot crisis of 1679, by contrast, he substantially changed its plot, language, title and genre. (Explaining the legion deficiencies of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida was the grounds for Dryden’s Essay on Tragedy, which was first published as a preface to his version of the play.45) Dryden’s Troilus and Cressida makes of the Shakespearean satire a Romeo and Juliet-style tragedy by adjusting its timing. In Dryden’s adaptation, Cressida merely feigns flirtation with Diomedes at her father’s insistence. Troilus misunderstands what he witnesses and confronts Cressida, cursing her to join ‘the most branded Ghosts of all her Sex’ (5.2.254).46 Cressida cuts off Troilus’s invective by stabbing herself, although ‘Some few hours hence, and grief had done [the] work’ of ending her life (5.2.259). In the combat sequence at the end of the Shakespearean play, only Patroclus and Hector die, and even before Pandarus’s epilogue casts the end of Shakespeare’s play as an occasion for infection, the play leaves off in a militarily inconclusive situation of protracted violence, where, we imagine,

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war could well go on forever. Truth Found Too Late, by contrast, ends with decisive – properly tragic – battle: Troilus kills Diomedes, Achilles kills Troilus, and ‘All the Trojans dye upon the place, Troilus last’ (5.2.301 s.d.). The senior Greek generals arrive to ratify this finale, with Achilles concluding that ‘Our toyls are done’ (5.2.302). Ulysses finishes off Dryden’s adaptation with an encomium to civil obedience: Now peacefull order has resum’d the reynes, Old time looks young, and Nature seems renew’d: Then, since from homebred Factions ruine springs, Let Subjects learn obedience to their Kings (5.2.323–6) Addressing Carolean needs, Dryden’s revisions to the end of Troilus and Cressida promise catharsis, rejuvenation and communal healing from properly deferential royalist response. The ‘Ruine’ from ‘homebred Factions’ that concerned Ulysses indeed menaced the harmonious English polity in the spring of 1679. Truth Found Too Late was performed and licensed for printing in April 1679, just as the anti-Catholic fabrication of the Popish Plot was threatening Charles II’s control of government.47 The play’s epilogue, spoken by Thersites, indicates that the potential topicality of ruinous ‘homebred Factions’ did not go unnoticed.48 Thersites concludes his satiric defence of the play (‘Ye expect a Satyr, and I seldom fail’ [Epilogue.3]) by likening himself to the accused plotters: Yet to huff out our Play was worth my trying, John Lilburn scap’d his Judges by defying: If guilty, yet I’m sure o’ th’ Churches blessing, By suffering for the Plot, without confessing. (Epilogue.25–8) Declining to ‘confess’, Thersites brings up a matter of some concern in the spring of 1679. The Popish Plot commanded sufficient credibility in late 1678 and early 1679 that four


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people had been convicted and executed for complicity by February, with five Jesuits to follow in June. Doubt about the conspiracy theory, partly based on the accuseds’ unanimous protestations of innocence, was, however, already widespread by spring. Thersites’ lexicon of confession and innocence reverberates with questions about the legitimacy of royal judgement and government imputations of sedition, countering Ulysses’ royalist pablum. When the play was published during the months when doubt about already-­executed death sentences was rising, Dryden’s erstwhile title Truth Found Too Late was demoted to subtitle, perhaps because it was all too timely.49 As Thersites’ epilogue turns to current affairs, why does he invoke the figure of John Lilburne to authorize his declamation? Lilburne, the Leveller popularly known as ‘freeborn John’, had died in 1657. Lilburne had been a remarkably progressive freethinker, printer, pamphleteer, and eventual Quaker, who had no university education but whose writings on individual legal rights remain influential to the present day. Lilburne indefatigably sought out opportunities for debate, and was tried (including for treason) and imprisoned more than once. His 1649 treason trial became a cause célèbre: having successfully persuaded the jury – to the proper outrage of the judges – that they were judges of law as well as fact, he was pronounced guiltless. The legalities were hardly the issue. Popular enthusiasm was all, expressed in a packed court with open doors and swirling crowds outside, and his acquittal was marked with bonfires.50 He spent many more periods in prison later in his life, however, and ‘developed further his habit of demanding trial by a jury of his peers’.51 However much the historical Dryden may have agreed with his Ulysses that ‘peacefull order’ will ‘resume the reynes’ when ‘subjects learn obedience to their king’, the satiric Thersites and his passionately contrarian counterpart Lilburne offer a different perspective. Dryden makes Ulysses’ order-­ affirming degree speech into the first scene of Truth Found Too

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Late, rendering it even more prominent than it is in Shakespeare. But Thersites has the last word. In 1661, as we have seen, what may have been the first Shakespearean performance in two decades opened with Pericles’ Gower once again addressing a public audience. The overlayering of the medieval Scottish source poet, the medieval ears imagined to have heard his recitations, the Stuart playwrights who took up his story, the last generation of spectators to have heard those same words theatrically declaimed before the civil wars, and the present-­day enscenement in which Gower yet again resolves to ‘tell you what mine authors say’ (1.1.20): these make a community, joined in a polychronous anterior future of ancient lords’ and ladies’ ‘restoratives’ (1.0.8). From ashes, Gower welcomes all these listeners into the nexus of textual producers, receivers and forms that are constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed as history is made and unmade. In 1679, in Truth Found Out Too Late, Gower is succeeded on the boards by the Ghost of Shakespeare. Crowned with ‘eternal green’ (Prologue.4), this Ghost literalizes Shakespeare as the Prologue to Restoration theatre. Shakespeare’s Ghost is canny about the historical uses of stories. He promises his British audience a tale to valorize their own ancestors (Britons being mythically descended from the Trojan Brutus), rather than the Greeks. But the Ghost also acknowledges that telling the Matter of Troy relies on sources: ‘My faithfull Scene from true Records shall tell / How Trojan valour did the Greek excell’ (Prologue.38–9). He promises, then, both a ‘faithful’ rendition of ‘true records’ and also a version of those records that praises Troy. Insofar as the ultimate source of the story is the Greek Iliad, these two aims may not entirely align.52 More centrally, whether the Ghost is referring to Homer’s Iliad or to Shakespeare’s own Troilus, or to other versions of the story, he casts adaptive citation as not necessarily harmonious, but potentially aggressive. ‘Your great forefathers shall their fame regain’, the Ghost promises, ‘And Homer’s angry Ghost repine in vain’ (Prologue.39–40). Nor is Homer’s the only angry ghost in the Prologue. The Ghost of Shakespeare sweetly offered his ‘faithfull Scene’ only


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after recalling himself from a fifteen-­line rant against the theatrical present. Its playwrights are the ‘weak, short-­liv’d issues of a feeble Age’ (Prologue.17), their words a ‘fulsome clench that nauseates the Town’ (Prologue.27). As a revenant, the Ghost of Shakespeare overlayers his own age and Dryden’s to reveal weakness and failure. This transaction is not one-­way: the Ghost’s prologue concedes shortcomings of his own Shakespearean practice. From Dryden’s present, Shakespeare appears ‘untaught, unpractis’d, in a barbarous Age’ (Prologue.7); his plays were ‘rough-­drawn’ (Prologue.13); he ‘drain’d no Greek or Latin store’ (Prologue.11). The prologue’s Angry Shakespeare and Angry Homer mirror the epilogue’s Railing Thersites and Defiant Lilburne. Belligerence animates these ghostly figures, and repurposing old stories for new uses does not always create the amicable communal participation that Pericles’ Gower celebrates. Allusively layered satire instead intensifies the mode’s corrosiveness.53 For Gower, for Pericles, for romance, stories heal and renew. For Thersites, for Troilus, for satire, stories like the Popish Plot injure and debase. The problem is not limited to satire. Epic itself may not be entirely innocent; David Quint has written that in proposing ‘make love, not war’, Paradise Lost ‘would . . . end the epic genre by condemning its traditional subject matters, war and empire’, and Suzanne Wofford also shows the costs of epic violence.54 Shakespeare’s Troilus ends with the railing Pandarus infecting his audience, suspending them in an eternal present where they neither return to Ilium nor proceed to the ‘new joys’ of future experience that Gower offers. Dryden’s adaptive epilogue layers time frames in ways that multiply and amplify railing, not harmony. Thickening allusive satire distils its acid. But if adaptive satire juxtaposes stories in corrosive ways that can eat away at the untruths of PopishPlot death sentences, or the efforts to silence John Lilburne, that may promise recompenses of its own – such as citationally reanimating the twenty-­two-years dead Lilburne, spoken into presence by Thersites’ epilogue, to add Lilburne’s oppositional spirit to Shakespeare’s plauditory ghost.



7 Love’s Labour’s Lost and the Layered Temporality of Poetic Reception Matthew Harrison

Those in James I’s court present for the celebrations of 1 January 1605 would have seen the Children of Blackfriars put on George Chapman’s play All Fools, in which the foolish Gostanzo laments the inability of modern gallants to woo in verse. In his glory days, ‘I did not as you barraine Gallants doe, / Fill my discourses up drinking Tobacco’. Rather,   I could have written as good Prose and Verse, As the most beggerlie Poet of am all, Either accrostique, Exordion, Epithalamious, Satyres, Epigrams, Sonnets in Doozens, or your Quatorzanies, In any Rime Masculine, Feminine, Or Sdrnciolla, or cooplets, Blancke Verse, Y’are but bench-­whistlers now a dayes to them That were in our times.1


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The joke cuts several ways. Overall, it suggests a certain staleness to verse love-­making, what Chapman elsewhere calls ‘melt[ing] into rime’.2 A second joke comes in the juxtaposition of poetic kinds that Gostanzo mentions: the haphazard way that germane and non-­germane jumble together. It’s hard to imagine what an Elizabethan love satire or epigram might look like, and a sonnet in fourteeners exhausts even in contemplation. For all his bragging, Gostanzo does not have the command he claims over the language of poetic form. But this tight catalogue of verse forms is itself anachronistic, the fruits of an emerging solidification of poetic jargon. Several of these terms are used solely or primarily by Sir Philip Sidney in the years prior to the seventeenth century: ‘sdruciola’, ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ rhyme, and even ‘couplet’, for instance, are rarely evidenced other than in his Defence of Poesy. Prior to 1600, the term ‘blank verse’ is used solely by Robert Greene (and Thomas Nashe, in his dedication to Greene’s Menaphon), when it bursts onto the scene in works by Jonson, Shakespeare and (shortly) Dekker, Marston and Chettle. And, before Chapman, ‘acrostic’ appears only in pamphlets by Robert Parson. All Fools registers the foreignness of these terms with italics. There is a delightful tension in this moment’s mixture of nostalgia and novelty. The ‘old Politique dissembling knight’ uses markedly new poetic terms to regret the disappearance of poetic compliment in favour of barren discourse about tobacco. It’s difficult to know how much of this an audience member would have heard. Might they have recognized the anachronism of Gostanzo’s diction? Or would the recent familiarity of the terms – popularized in no small part by playwrights – focus attention on the out-­of-date styles and forms that he claims to have mastered? Is Chapman showing off his mastery of poetic terminology or mocking the modishness with which such terms were used? Perhaps, knowing that audiences are diverse in taste and judgement, he means to do both. Gostanzo’s peculiar mixture of anachronism and retroactive precision, his modishness and the ways he is out-­of-fashion,

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captures the particularly tricky temporality of form and criticism in England at the turn of the seventeenth century. The literary conversation at this moment moves swiftly, with poets adopting new styles, new aesthetics and new justifications for poetry in a matter of months. Drayton’s 1599 text of his sonnet sequence Idea, for instance, begins with a poem that disavows the ‘passion’ of his love lyrics, reimagining his earlier work as a portrait of a swiftly changing mind.3 Barnabe Barnes’s recantation appears in print within two years, accompanying a religious sonnet sequence with a wildly different aesthetic than his ‘lewde laies of Lighter loves’.4 Marston moves more quickly still, mocking his erotic epyllion in the satires appended to the same volume.5 Although their explanations vary – the diversity of tastes or patrons, the shape of a poetic career, the appeal of novelty or a return to the classics – poets change with the times. Yet the old does not vanish. Rather, we find a layered temporality, open to reconfiguration, in which old conventions and representations are made to look like the new. Performed alongside All Fools during that holiday season of 1604/5 was a second play in which verse-­wooing becomes a failed style for love: the Shakespearean Love’s Labour’s Lost. The nearly ten years between the play’s first writing (1596?) and this revival (1604/5) would shift the context for Berowne’s sonnet ‘in Doozens’ from the height of the sonnet boom to an era more sceptical of earnest sonneteering.6 Where Gostanzo’s speech shows a swiftly developing language for poetic activity, Berowne’s poems (and those of the lords more generally) show the opposite problem. Even as the play’s language for poetic creation remains in circulation – ‘facility’, ‘wit’, ‘grace’, ‘invention’ – the formal markers of these qualities would continuously shift, in what Drayton calls the ‘fashion’ of the world and Shakespeare the ‘bett’ring of the time’ (32.5).7 To historicize early modern engagements with poetic style, then, is to be caught between the quick changes of norms, terms and practice, and the anachronistic revisionism by which the past is always represented through the lens of today. We end up like Gostanzo, misrepresenting our story even as we tell it.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

This entanglement between past and present offers a model for how we might think of the theatre’s role in the swift-­moving and contentious conversation about poetics flourishing in the very late sixteenth and very early seventeenth centuries. In its insatiable appetite for deviance, the theatre constantly puts absurd verbal forms before an audience, representing and disciplining absurdity in ways that demand the audience imagine poetic norms. Yet as contexts and audiences shift, so must the substance of these judgements. In a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the eighteenth century, for instance, onstage commentators imagine Bottom’s death speech as mocking not the forgotten verse of King Cambyses but the elaborate deaths of the ‘Hero in an Italian Opera’.8 This isn’t wrong, exactly. Rather it gathers up materials implicit in the play already – bathos, overacting, stylized speech – and combines them into a new interpretation. To think about the temporality of early modern poetics demands that we understand this constructive misinterpretation as happening at the scale not just of decades but of years, even months. In what follows, I consider how Love’s Labour’s Lost fits into early modern conversations about poetics. To do so, I tease out three contexts within the space of a decade: sonnet sequences’ investment in the failure of lovers’ embassies, satirists’ parodies of the sonneteer and the consolidation of the stage poet figure into a social type in the early seventeenth century. These contexts map onto three important moments for the play: Love’s Labour’s Lost is written and first performed sometime around 1595/6, towards the end of the sonnet boom. The first surviving publication of the play comes in 1598, as the sonnet had given way (among fashionable writers) to the verse satire. That edition claims on its title page to be ‘newly corrected and augmented’. (No earlier text survives, though the play bears some marks of revision.9) Finally, the play is revived by the winter of 1604/5, when it is performed before Queen Anne. Reading and rereading the play in light of changing currents in the cultural conversation about poetry

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for each of these first three dates, I seek the shifting resonances between the play and its contexts. In so doing, I do not mean to draw rigorous distinctions among what different individuals would perceive, but rather to trace a process of retroactive significance. As poets revisit and reconfigure past representations of poetic failure, the poetics of Love’s Labour’s Lost shift even as the text remains stable. To speak of the temporality of literary criticism is to explore how we revise the past.

Are the lords good poets? Before turning to these contexts, however, I want to look briefly to the mechanics of literary criticism within the play and the invitations to critique that it extends. The lords of Love’s Labour’s Lost are not within the main line of a trajectory of staged bad poetry that includes (say) Lyly’s Sir Topas, Peele’s Huanebango, Shakespeare’s Orlando and Jonson’s Master Matthew and Jack Daw. In these plays, the audience is asked to respond to a clearly identified technical failure: to notice an overly long pentameter, a preposterous metre, a hobbling rhythm, a plagiarized line or a clinking rhyme. At such moments, the theatre serves as a primer, dramatizing and thereby consolidating a consensus on poetry, at least in the temporary community of the audience. Such moments of poetic parody operate as a school of abuses, training their auditors in right poetic precepts. Indeed, playwrights’ much-­expressed frustrations about the stealing of jests show just how much individuals might fashion themselves through what they had seen. By contrast, in Love’s Labour’s Lost, judgement glances off the poems. Holofernes, drawing on the vocabulary of rhetoric, offers up opinions that seem apt without being persuasive, while the amused and frustrated ladies say little that is particular. Their objections – flattery, hypocrisy, a tiresome volume – apply to the enterprise of love poetry rather than these in particular. And, as is well known, three of the poems very quickly reappear in Elizabethan collections.10


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Unlike with As You Like It or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Satiromastix or Endymion, an auditor hearing these poems must weigh them without their author pressing down heavily on the scale. The challenge of this task might be attested by the disagreement, over the play’s history, in how they are to be read. For Walter Pater they, ‘like the golden ornaments of a fair woman, give [the play] a peculiar air of distinction’.11 Likewise, Henry Woudhuysen argues that the inset verses show Shakespeare ‘paying some sort of homage to [Sidney] and showing he can surpass him’.12 By contrast, Jackson Barry finds them ‘unexceptional . . . stage properties’ rather than ‘important in themselves’ and Tom Flannigan dismisses them (through Rosalind’s eyes) as ‘a passionless, mechanical imitation of the hackneyed Petrarchan type’.13 Yet Paul Memmo finds their Petrarchanism ‘sleek’ and Anne Barton says they are ‘the charming testimonies of a passion that is not to be questioned’.14 Seemingly asking for judgement but resisting its finality, the poems of Love’s Labour’s Lost participate in an evolving literary conversation not as a primer but as a Rorschach, demanding individual response. The remainder of this essay unpacks the models available for early modern audiences drawing their own conclusions. The shifting of such models around Love’s Labour’s Lost helps to show both the layered temporality of critical response and the complexity of theatre’s engagements with literary history.

The sonnet sequence: Love’s Labour’s Lost in the 1590s If Love’s Labour’s Lost does not end like an ‘old comedy’, it does end like a sonnet sequence. Jack hath not Jill: the men are left disappointed and perhaps repentant, like so many other love poets. Indeed, when the Princess explains that they received the lords’ ‘letters . . . / and favours, ambassadors of love’ as ‘bombast’ (5.2.771–2), she borrows half a line from the last sonnet of Drayton’s Idea’s Mirrour:

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Goe you my lynes, Embassadors of love, With my harts trybute to her conquering eyes, From whence, if you one teare of pitty move For all my woes, that onely shall suffise.15 (51.1–4) The verbal echo is slight, but the conceptual one large: English sonnet sequences often end with the recognition that the poems were insufficient, unpersuasive, unable to move the beloved to make a ‘world-­without-end’ bargain (5.2.783). Often, too, in the sonnet sequence, a song follows, as a way to reconfigure and remap the sentiments previously expressed onto a new aesthetic. Just as the songs of Winter and Spring represent a jarring shift out of the play’s mode, so too, the pastoral ode that follows Daniel’s Delia, the eclogue that follows Drayton’s Idea’s Mirrour, the songs in the early editions of Astrophil and Stella, most triumphantly Spenser’s Epithalamion – all transfigure the psychological stasis of a closing sonnet into an image of an ongoing world. Panning out from sonnet to pastoral, these sequences (as others) turn from the pained and contorted Petrarchan rhetoric of self to a stylized natural world. In 1595 or 1596, Love’s Labour’s Lost is less a rejection of the sonnet sequence than a distillation of its interest in frustration and failure, in the inadequacy and exhilaration of verse, and in the collision between wit’s efforts to reorder the world and a world that continues on, unreordered. Much about this play recalls a sonnet sequence. The embedded poems draw on both Petrarchan imagery and a Sidney-­like tendency to offer and then tease apart a contradiction, as when Berowne writes, ‘If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?’ (4.2.105). And as in Sidney, through such clever sophistry, desire reclaims for itself a neoplatonic language of abstraction: ‘If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice’ (4.2.111). Longaville tries the same trick: ‘My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love’ (4.3.63). Both follow Astrophil’s lead, claiming to ascend the ladder of love, from particular to general, earthly to heavenly, even as


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they move in the opposite direction. Dumaine and Navarre turn to Ovid rather than Plato, explaining their own metamorphoses through natural metaphors: water and wind. These poems are interested not merely in the style of the sonnet but in its habits of thought, its capacity for adorning contradictions. Similarly, much of the play’s argumentative energy comes from sonnet models. Formally, the play borrows from the sonnet tradition a keen sense of the difference in argumentative shape between couplet and quatrain. Couplets (and tercets) model the close entanglement of flirtation, wit and teasing, while quatrains build up arguments, establish metaphors and take positions. As a result, the play is full of inset sonnets and partial sonnets. In its first scene, Berowne repeatedly relies on a reverse sestet when he perversely argues against knowledge, three times building from a surprising couplet to a quatrain in its defence. In acquiescing, he reverses the form, four times moving from a quatrain of argument to a couplet that tweaks, twists, or advances his point. And then, for much of the play, the sestet disappears in an explosion of couplets. Couplets in Love’s Labour’s Lost are a form of intercourse: shared between partners, they banter and tease; in series, they build up comical portraits (of Berowne at 5.2.59–68, of Boyet at 5.2.315–34, and so forth), castigate hypocritically, or lay out comic courses of action. Even the minor characters get in on the fun, despite their inability to speak in iambic pentameter: in irregular metres, Costard celebrates the flouting of Boyet and Nathaniel the idiocy of Dull. After the scene of eavesdropping, quatrains return in a matched pair of scenes: lines shared among the lords offer a mock-­blazon of Rosalind (4.3.217–85) while the ladies sketch the frustrated lords (5.2.266–85). Shared among multiple voices, the slower pace of the quatrain allows a kind of sociable thinking outside of the wit-­combat of heterosexual encounter. The couplet, by contrast, enables such combat until, at last, Berowne returns to the sonnet form for his stylish renunciation of style: ‘Oh never will I trust to speeches penned’ (5.2.394–415). The sonnet tradition is, for Love’s Labour’s

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Lost, not merely a matter of dead metaphors, stereotyped stances and stylish nonsense: it is a living repertory of forms that shape thoughts and encounters. But what of the manifest failure of verse-­wooing in this play? Since, as Louis Montrose notes, love poems here fail to convince both as content and as craft, one might read the play as marking the end of the sonnet fashion.16 But in the mid-1590s, auditors would not necessarily hear an indictment of the sonnet, either in general or in particular. Rather, the tropes at issue – poetic self-­ doubt, aesthetic failure and the inability of the poem to sway its auditor – already appear in the sonnet sequence’s deep investment in the social and ethical impotence of clever language. Love’s Labour’s Lost stages and develops the genre’s vacillation between abjection and mastery in a newly public context.

Satire at the end of the century By 1599, a year after Love’s Labour’s Lost’s printing, satirist John Weever was mining it for jokes. His Epigrammes in the Oldest Cut and Newest Fashion reshapes Katherine’s and Maria’s reception of their poets’ embassies into a single epigram, in which the ‘thousand verses of a faithfull lover’ prompt the beloved to wish that ‘The chaine were longer, and the letter short’.17 A second epigram, ‘In Battus’, riffs off another line, from Berowne’s defence of love poetry: Battus affirm’d no Poet ever writte, Before that Love inspir’d his dull head witte.18 But where Berowne finds love’s inspiration, Battus writes like he has lost his wits. The taxonomizing impulse of the early modern satire and epigram breaks out the world into characters: fools, cuckolds, pretentious know-­nothings, fops. Among these types is a curdled version of the love poet, the sonneteer, described thus in Rankins’ satires:


Temporality, Genre and Experience

examine but his lines, How they are peest with Ovids excrements, How he perfumes with roses his rude rimes, With pearles and rubyes makes her monuments.19 A variety of factors underlie the sordid portraits of the love poet throughout Elizabethan satires: attempts to capitalize on changing tastes, cynical uses of moral claims to shock and pleasure an audience, efforts to distinguish these cultural productions in the market and in social circles. But these portraits’ effect, again and again, is to weld the social and moral folly already present in the sonnet sequence to a consistent account of style. Old conventions take on slightly different shape: to love, in both, is to twitch helplessly within a set of conventions, but the sonnet demands sympathy, even recognition, while the satire enumerates the follies and asks for judgement. The absurd lover-­poet is not, in other words, a new figure. On the contrary, satire gathers together the force of the earlier convention and applies it differently. These texts draw on old stereotypes in ways that subtly shift their emphasis. Love’s Labour’s Lost’s engagements with this ongoing conversation about love poetry shift when we read it alongside the new rather than the old. What changes in this play’s relationship to poetic criticism, when its context is Renaissance satire rather than the sonnet? The sonnet emphasizes the relation between the poetic failure and self-­doubt, the tentative psychology of the lover. Satire, by contrast, builds on moments of poetic critique contained within the sonnet to argue that the love poem offers an identifiable style: not only is the lover a type, but the poems that he writes have a particular set of formal patterns. Reading Love’s Labour’s Lost from the perspective of the satire emphasizes its cacophony of types and styles. If we turn to the final scene of the play with these new versions of the conventions in mind, we see the collision of these two points of view. Berowne first defends the lords’

Love’s L abour’s Lost and Poetic Reception


behaviour, saying they have been ‘deformed’ by the ladies’ beauty, ‘fashioning [their] humours’ and making them seem ‘ridiculous’ (5.2.751, 5.2.753). This is an old misogynistic argument, blaming women for the follies of the men who pursue them. Yet its terms recur as a response to the satirist, whose malcontent eyes see the world awry, generating deformities with their ridicule. Berowne’s words, that ‘those heavenly eyes that look into these faults / Suggested us to make [them]’ (5.2.763–4), read in the earlier context as Petrarchan excuse. Yet, by 1598, those keeping track of literary production would be familiar with its repurposing as an account of the danger of the satirist: a person whose eyes, not the world, were astray. Berowne asks the ladies to look differently, to read more favourably. As he continues, his argument comes to be an argument for the value of a poetry that is fundamentally silly. He continues, ‘love is full of unbefitting strains’, because it, like the eye, is Full of strange shapes, of habits and of forms, Varying in subjects as the eye doth roll To every varied object in his glance. (5.2.757–9) ‘Strains’ here means both the physical and mental strain of behaviour and the inappropriate music of the love poetry. So, too, do ‘forms’ and ‘habits’ continue the running overlap between metaphors of clothing and metaphors of language. Not only do lovers act oddly, Berowne suggests; they produce a varied, strange, and swiftly changing poetry. The passage rewrites Theseus’s famous passage on the folly of love from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name.20 (5.1.12–17) But where Theseus’s image rebuts Sidney, emphasizing the frenzied nothingness of the poet’s range through the zodiac of his wit, this version emphasizes the strange forms and habits of love poetry: not love’s silliness or untruth, as in Midsummer, but the fact that it draws us to strange styles. At the end of the sixteenth century, this resembles the moment at the opening of this essay, when Drayton, too, reconfigures love poetry not as an outpouring of ‘passion’ but as an inventory of the ‘strange . . . forms’ of fashion, the swiftly rolling eye and mind of the poet. Drayton is responding to the same turn in taste and aesthetics that I have been describing: a new lack of sympathy for the earnestness of the love poet, a cynicism towards his cries. Berowne puts the princess in the position of the satirist, then, distorting the world with too-­precise vision. He then shifts, defending love poetry as valuable in portraying the constantly varying flux of love. The poet renders not the depth of his passion but the absurdity of his situation, becoming a painter of deformities that, at least in Berowne’s account, are realistic. At a moment like this, an old argument shifts to meet a new context, transforming it in return.

Stage poets c. 1605 Around the time of that court production of All Fools, the courtier Sir Walter Cope went searching for plays. As he wrote to Cecil, he spent the morning looking for ‘players, Juglers, and Such kinde of Creaturs’ in search of entertainment for the Queen. At last, a note left for Burbage pays off: the actor arrives and informs Cope that although the company has no new plays that Queen Anne has not seen, ‘they have Revyved an olde one, Cawled Loves Labore lost, which for wytt & mirthe . . . will please her exceedingly’.21 Cope makes arrangements for a performance the following night.

Love’s L abour’s Lost and Poetic Reception


Why revive Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1605? The play could have been suggested to Burbage by negotiations of the end of the Anglo-Spanish War. The visiting Spanish negotiators, whom the King’s Men had attended for eighteen days that August, might have given new punch to Armado the braggart.22 Less politically, the prior year had seen a devastating plague. Dekker’s plague pamphlet promises that ‘mirth is both Phisicall, and wholesome against the Plague’ before admitting that his book is already ‘somewhat infected’.23 Dekker’s feverish conflation of the mirth of linguistic play and the ironies of Death turn the latter into a witty Malcontent, even while acknowledging a ravaged London in which ‘every house lookte like St. Bartholmew’s Hospital’ (sig. D1v). The audience that January would know, with Berowne, that ‘Mirth cannot move a soul in agony’ (5.2.930) and would feel the weight of his promise to ‘jest twelvemonths in a hospital’ (5.2.944). Or perhaps, since Queen Anne had performed in the Masque of Blackness within a week or two of the performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost with its own masque introduced by ‘blackamoors’, Burbage may have been exploiting a court fascination with blackface or intending a strategic reference to a recent event. Ultimately, we can only guess at Burbage’s motives – as at Cope’s, Cecil’s and those of others involved with the revival. But a moment like this makes visible the peculiar availability of literature to history: the parsimony with which old configurations of elements take on new meaning from the ideas and events that surround them. This same parsimony, I have been arguing, revives and distorts the play’s engagement with conversations about literary style and form. We don’t know whether Love’s Labour’s Lost was revised to fit this new context, but we can reflect on how a new context might transform this old play. To claim that the idiosyncratic representations of plays are a vital site for the cultural work of theorizing poetics entails an account of how such representations shift in meaning over time. So what new might Love’s Labour’s Lost contribute to cultural conversations about poetry in 1605? Over the


Temporality, Genre and Experience

intervening years, the inept stage poet had become a more familiar figure. The earlier Elizabethan stage has a long tradition of parodying writers: Greene complains of having been lampooned on stage, and Peele clearly parodies Harvey in the Old Wives’ Tale.24 But there, with few exceptions, poetry is largely an activity rather than an occupation or role. When we do see a ‘Poet’, as in Jacob and Esau, the figure tends to be played straight. Likewise, stage poems intended to be heard as bad are manifestly so, either in style or decorum, more like Armado and Holofernes’s poems in Love’s Labour’s Lost than those of the four lords. Here, for instance, is Huanebango, in the Old Wives’ Tale: Phylyda phylerydos, Pamphylyda floryda flortos, Dub dud a dub, bounce quoth the guns, with a sulpherous huffe snuffe:25 The poem of Sir Tophas, in Lyly’s Endymion, is formally and metrically absurd: The beggar Love that knows not where to lodge: At last within my heart when I slept, he crept, I wakt, and so my fancies began to fodge.26 (4.2.26–8) Lyly works hard to make this perceptible as bad poetry: a pentameter explodes into a twenty-­two syllable monstrosity, metrically muddy and ending with a bizarre colloquialism.27 Shakespeare, too: both Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It revel in the subtle differences of verse lines, but when it comes time for bad verse, the playwright both exaggerates and explains: O Fates, come, come, Cut thread and thrum, Quail, crush, conclude, and quell! (MND 5.1.300–2)

Love’s L abour’s Lost and Poetic Reception


Note the deep redundancy of Shakespeare’s bad metrics here. The fourteener’s tendency to break into three pieces is accentuated by rhyming the inner parts; the comic over-­ alliteration emphasizes the most dated (‘dreadful dole’) and inane (‘dainty duck’) moments; and all these devices gather together in Bottom’s triumphantly tragic imitation of the midElizabethan tic of passionate synonymizing. (Lest we miss any of this, Shakespeare’s lords and Lyly’s bystander provide running commentary.) By contrast, a flurry of plays, concentrated around 1599– 1602 but continuing thereafter, depicts the disciplining of figures clearly identified as bad poets, while demanding more subtle aesthetic judgements from their auditors. A few instances will reveal the differences. In Jonson’s Every Man In His Humour, written a few years after Love’s Labour’s Lost and revived that same holiday season in 1605, Signior Matheo tries out these lines: To thee the purest object to my sence, The most refined essence heaven covers, Send I these lines, wherein I do commence The happie state of true deserving lovers. If they prove rough, unpolish’t, harsh and rude, Haste made that waste; thus mildly I conclude.28 (1.3.143–8) The joke must be in the vertiginous fall in decorum: the opening lines sound like Drayton at his highest pitch, while our poet soon plummets from platonic love language into a self-­deprecating formula and then an awkward attempt at exculpatory sententia.29 Or, rather, the collapse in decorum dramatizes Jonson’s real objection to Matheo: that he is a gatherer of scraps, a plagiary (to use a most Jonsonian word), drawing together stolen fragments rather than creating unified compositions. He has just praised the verse style of the Spanish Tragedy and (it will turn out) has been stealing his conceits from Delia. (Even to steal from these two texts has different


Temporality, Genre and Experience

connotations in 1598, the year that a fifth edition of Daniel’s sequence was published and within a year or two of Jonson’s involvement in revising Kyd’s tragedy, than in 1605.30) Jonson’s Poetaster similarly demands complex aesthetic evaluations in its stage poetry: Rich was thy hap; sweet dainty cap,   There to be placed; Where thy smooth black, sleek white may smack,   And both be graced. (3.1.85–8) Crispinus explains, using rhetorical terminology like Holofernes: ‘White is there usurp’d for her brow; her forehead: and then sleek, as the parallel to smooth, that went before. A kind of paranomasie, or agnomination: do you conceive, sir?’ (3.1.89– 91). Crispinus emphasizes not on what patterns of sounds register as poetry (as with Tophas, Huanebango, Bottom and Holofernes), but judging the choices made within a recognized set of stylistic conventions. The audience is guided, again, by plot and performance: we reason backwards from the clarity of the judgement to infer the causes. But over time, the clues grow fainter: the playwright expects finer discrimination. Poems that could have passed as acceptable verse a few years earlier now attract and repay new attention. Now imagine that same audience cued to exercise their discrimination upon Love’s Labour’s Lost. An audience in the mid-1590s need not hear these lines as technically incompetent in order for the scene (and thus the play) to work. Rather, they are a troubling indicator of a fall into dangerous territory: oathbreaking, love-­moaning and sonnetizing. A slightly later context – the epigrams and satires of the end of the century – frames these scenes differently: through the tinted eye of the satirist, turning to the sonnet becomes a failure simultaneously of social performance and of literary style. Now, five years later, stage poetry was inevitably inflected by a host of plays – most explicitly those of the so-­called ‘Poetomachia’, that turn-­

Love’s L abour’s Lost and Poetic Reception


of-the-­century theatrical quarrel, but also others – that asked, in Dekker’s words, for auditors to be the ‘Jurie’, making fine distinctions about poetic purpose and success.31 My point is not merely that ideas about love poetry shift over time. Rather it is that the theatre is a palimpsest, restaging old scripts in new circumstances and revisiting old types and familiar jokes with new significance. New ideas attach themselves to old figures. What is remarkable about the scene of bad poetry, in other words, is that it inverts what we might understand as the scene of criticism. Rather than a lone critic assessing a work’s elements so as to come to both a judgement and a clear statement of systematic principles, we begin from a shared judgement, ratified by laughter, and work backwards to independent principles. In the layered temporality of reception, a variety of diffuse and disagreeing poetic principles reach unanimity, at least for a moment.

8 Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Genre, Style and Performance Lucy Munro

Two temporal moments have dominated the afterlife of Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle. The first is its performance at the Blackfriars playhouse by the Children of the Revels around 1607, a moment that is vividly invoked when the play’s own Prologue is interrupted by a spectator. The second is its publication in 1613, when it was prefaced by a letter from the publisher Walter Burre to Robert Keysar, one of the managers of the Children of the Revels. Burre’s letter famously alludes to the failure of The Knight of the Burning Pestle in its initial performances and – no less notoriously – links it with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Echoing Cervantes’ own description of Don Quixote as a child, Burre casts The Knight as an ‘unfortunate child . . . exposed to the wide world,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

who for want of judgement, or not understanding the privy mark of irony about it . . . utterly rejected it’.1 Now, in his new guise of print, the play is ‘desirous to try his fortune in the world’, and Burre imagines that it may find its way through its similarity with Cervantes’ work: Perhaps it will be thought to be of the race of Don Quixote: we both may confidently swear it is his elder above a year; and therefore may (by virtue of his birthright) challenge the wall of him. I doubt not but they will meet in their adventures, and I hope the breaking of one staff will make them friends; and perhaps they will combine themselves, and travel through the world to seek their adventures. In addition to provoking a sustained investigation of why The Knight failed in performance, Burre’s remarks gave licence to later critics keen to downplay or ignore the influence of Cervantes on Jacobean drama.2 What interests me here, however, is the temporal complexity of Burre’s playful rhetorical manoeuvre. Don Quixote had been published in Thomas Shelton’s English translation in 1612, a year before the publication of The Knight of the Burning Pestle. In terms of their appearance in print, therefore, Don Quixote was a year older than The Knight; similarly, Don Quixote made its first appearance in Spanish in 1605, around two years before the first performance of The Knight. Yet in terms of the texts’ availability to English audiences, Burre is not entirely inaccurate. Shelton claimed in 1612 that his translation was completed ‘some five or sixe yeares agoe . . . in the space of forty daies’, which would mean that he was working on it around 1606–7, when it may have circulated in manuscript. However, it did not become widely available to readers until it was printed. Thus, in a topsy-­turvy moment of textual and chronological confusion, The Knight of the Burning Pestle is Don Quixote’s younger and older brother simultaneously. While the topographical, national and generic interactions of The Knight of the Burning Pestle have preoccupied recent

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


critics, often to brilliant effect, the ways in which these iterations go hand-­in-hand with temporal negotiations have been neglected.3 Burre’s comments should, however, alert us to importance of temporality to this play. For it is consumed by questions of time and timing from the opening moment when the London grocer, George, interrupts the performance at the Blackfriars playhouse of a satiric city comedy called ‘The London Merchant’, complaining that ‘This seven years there have been plays at this house . . . you have still girds at citizens’ (Induction, 6–8). Exploiting theatrical allusion, generic and linguistic convention, and aspects of theatrical practice at the Blackfriars playhouse, Beaumont creates a play that both inhabits and resists its own cultural moment.

Time and text Responding to George’s demand that the boy players replace ‘The London Merchant’ with ‘something notably in honour of the commons of the city’, the Prologue replies, ‘you should have told us your mind a month since. Our play is ready to begin now’ (Induction, 25–6, 31–2). Surviving records such as Philip Henslowe’s Diary suggest that this would have been a relatively speedy schedule. For instance, records relating to the lost play of Jephthah, written by Thomas Dekker and Anthony Munday for the Admiral’s Men in 1602, show that the dramatists were paid on 5 May, that they read the play to the company around 17 May, that payments were made for costumes and props in May and June, and that a final licensing payment to the Master of the Revels was made on 4 August.4 In his demand that a new play be created in the moment, George thus seeks to derail the standard process through which plays were commissioned, written and staged. The strain that this places on the company is registered throughout The Knight of the Burning Pestle, as the characters of ‘The London Merchant’ are forced to interact with the narrative created by George and his wife Nell, and the Prologue consistently


Temporality, Genre and Experience

grumbles about the impact of their demands on their ability to perform the play they had planned and please their audience.5 George’s demands are mistimed. But scholars may have been too quick to stigmatize his tastes and those of his wife, Nell, as out of step with theatrical fashion. Recent research by Martin Wiggins and others into the dates of surviving and lost plays reveals a more complete picture of George and Nell’s theatrical knowledge, and it suggests that the majority of the plays to which they allude were new or recently revived in 1607. George refers in the Induction to The Legend of Whittington, which is probably ‘The history of Richard Whittington of his lowe byrthe, his great fortune, as yt was plaid by the prynces servantes’ (entered in the Stationers’ Register on 8 February 1605) and The Life and Death of Thomas Gresham, with the Building of the Royal Exchange, probably Thomas Heywood’s The Second Part of If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, with the Building of the Royal Exchange and the Famous Victory of Queen Elizabeth in the Year 1588 (performed around 1605 by Queen Anna’s Men at the Curtain and published in 1606).6 It may be tempting to link the third play to which he refers, The Story of Queen Eleanor, with the Rearing of London Bridge Upon Woolsacks, with George Peele’s Edward I, written in the early 1590s, but this play does not feature London Bridge. A later, lost history play may therefore have been in Beaumont’s mind.7 The theatrical reference-­points of his wife, Nell, are similarly up to date: she comments that ‘I should have seen Jane Shore once, and my husband hath promised me any time this twelvemonth to carry me to The Bold Beauchamps’ (Induction, 51–3). Henslowe records a payment by Worcester’s Men to Henry Chettle and John Day for Shore’s Wife – which the company performed at the Rose playhouse – on 9 May 1603, and Nell’s is the earliest unambiguous reference to The Bold Beauchamps, for which Wiggins suggests a date of 1605.8 Later in the Induction, Rafe recites one of Hotspur’s speeches from 1 Henry IV, first performed by the Chamberlain’s Men at the Globe around 1597, suggesting that he is also in touch with recent dramatic fashions.

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


References to new and recent plays continue as The Knight progresses. In Act Four, George demands that the Prologue ‘fetch me [Rafe] then, and let the Sophy of Persia come and christen him a child’, and the Prologue complains, ‘Believe me, sir, that will not do so well. ’Tis stale; it has been had before at the Red Bull’ (29–32). The Prologue refers to John Day, William Rowley and George Wilkins’ The Travels of the Three English Brothers, which dramatizes events of 1598–1606 and was premiered by Queen Anna’s Men at the Red Bull only shortly before the first performances of The Knight of the Burning Pestle.9 Unabashed, George then recommends that the Prologue ‘[r]ead the play of The Four Prentices of London’ (49); Thomas Heywood’s play, which was probably performed by Worcester’s Men at the Rose, has recently been convincingly dated by Wiggins to 1602.10 The two older plays mentioned by George and Nell in the Induction, Mucedorus and The Spanish Tragedy, are not unlikely to have been current on the stage around 1607. The former was published in a revised version in 1606 and may have been revived by the King’s Men at the Globe around 1604–6.11 The latter has been associated with revivals by both the Admiral’s Men at the Fortune and the Chamberlain’s/King’s Men at the Globe; it is referred to in a number of early seventeenth-­century plays and poems, and appears to have been considered for a court performance as late as 1619.12 Cumulatively, these references suggest – as Joshua S. Smith notes – that George and Nell are ‘quite well-­versed in the conventions of theatrical practice’, but that their knowledge is of the current output of outdoor – or ‘public’ – playhouses (such as the Curtain, Fortune, Globe, Red Bull and Rose) that were the commercial rivals of ‘private’ playhouses (such as the Blackfriars).13 The grocers’ theatrical taste is not old-­ fashioned: their fondness for civic histories and romances was widely shared by early Jacobean theatre-­goers. However, the kinds of large-­scale, expansive works that they admire were not well suited to smaller, indoor playhouses such as the Blackfriars, which may have had no choice but to explore


Temporality, Genre and Experience

alternative kinds of drama. Allusions to outdoor theatre plays therefore serve both to place the first performance of The Knight in a particular cultural moment – one in which histories and romances are a major part of the theatrical economy – and to foreground comically the strain that these kinds of plays would place on the boy players and their theatre. ‘We cannot present a house covered with black velvet, and a lady in beaten gold’, the Prologue tells George, who replies, perhaps condescendingly, ‘Sir boy, let’s ha’t as you can, then’ (4.42–4). George first introduces the idea that the play performed for him should feature a grocer who ‘shall do admirable things’, and it is Nell who tips things in the direction of romance rather than history, in her request that these include the hero killing a lion with a pestle (1.33–4, 42–4). The generic direction of the citizens’ play is confirmed when the Prologue rejects George’s suggestion of The Grocer’s Honor, commenting, ‘Methinks The Knight of the Burning Pestle were better’ (92), combining a joke about venereal disease with the name of the ‘Knight of the Burning Sword’ who appears in the Iberian romance Amadis de Gaul and is also mentioned in Don Quixote and 1 Henry IV.14 George’s apprentice Rafe, also interested in theatre as well as grocery, then enters in Act One, reading from another Iberian romance, Palmerin D’Oliva, and the extended quotation sets up an exploration of the relationship between romance and ‘reality’ that centres on the linguistic conventions of romance. Rafe complains that ‘[t]here are no such courteous knights and fair well-­spoken knights in this age’, lamenting that contemporary knights ‘will call one “the son of a whore”, that Palmerin of England would have called “fair sir”; and one that Rosicleer would have called “right beauteous damsel”, they will call “damned bitch” ’ (241–5). Attempting to combat this decay in linguistic and behavioural standards, Rafe casts his junior apprentices, Tim and George, as his squire and dwarf respectively, and he schools them in their roles by repeatedly addressing them as ‘squire’ and ‘dwarf’ and instructing them in how they should use language:

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


I charge you that from henceforth you never call me by any other name but the ‘Right Courteous and Valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle’, and that you never call any female by the name of a woman or wench, but ‘Fair Lady’, if she have her desires, if not, ‘Distressed Damsel’; that you call all forests and heaths ‘deserts’, and all horses ‘palfreys’. (1.273–6) As Janette Dillon notes, ‘the fact that this instruction is given while the stage still represents Rafe’s shop confirms the foregrounding of the mechanics of representation’.15 Yet romance language also has the power to shape reality, if only temporarily, an idea that Beaumont develops more fully in Act Three, when Nick the Barber becomes the giant Barbaroso, and the men and women whom he is treating for venereal disease become knights and ladies whom he has imprisoned and tortured. Rafe’s comment that ‘there are no such courteous knights and fair well-­spoken knights in this age’ suggests a temporal divide between the events of romance and the present day. As scholars have noted, such claims are conventional to the genre, and The Knight of the Burning Pestle also draws on romance’s established conventions when it underlines this perceived gap through the use of linguistic archaism.16 Spenserian imitations (‘pricking’, ‘prickant’ and ‘ladies gent’), the use of the ‘y’-prefix (‘ycleped’), familiar poetic archaisms (‘wight’ and ‘hight’), heavy alliteration, heightened use of ‘thou’ forms over ‘you’ forms and inverted word-­order (‘the third, a gentle squire, Ostlero hight’ [2.367]) combine to suggest that romance has ancient roots. Yet romance’s antiquity is itself a thematic and linguistic masquerade. It was in no danger of going out of fashion; indeed, popular and elite audiences both continued to enjoy romance in non-­dramatic and dramatic forms throughout the seventeenth century. The problem is one of perception. As Alex Davis argues, ‘drawn in by romances’ assertions of their own antiquity, we may be too ready to attribute to them a genuine obsolescence’.17 Archaism is not a sign that romance is


Temporality, Genre and Experience

past its prime, but a creative tool that can be recontextualized, exploited and burlesqued at will.

Time and space Romance is not the only genre at play in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, of course. The citizens’ play is juxtaposed with ‘The London Merchant’, the inset city comedy that the boy players attempt to continue performing in the face of George and Nell’s creative depredations. In contrast to romance, where archaism attempts to transcend temporal boundaries, city comedy is in many respects bound to its moment of performance. Although exaggerated, conventional and sometimes surreal, its narratives and characters draw heavily on the lives of contemporary Londoners, to the extent that a play such as Chapman’s lost The Old Joiner of Aldgate, performed by the Children of Paul’s in spring 1602, could be based on real events.18 When romance invades ‘The London Merchant’, therefore, it holds not only narrative and stylistic conventions but also geographies and temporalities in tension. Writing in the 1580s, Philip Sidney famously criticizes contemporary drama for its failure to be bounded by the classical unities of space and time: where you shall have Asia of the one side, and Afric of the other, and so many other under-­kingdoms, that the player, when he cometh in, must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived . . . Now of time they are much more liberal, for ordinary it is that two young princes fall in love. After many traverses, she is got with child, delivered of a fair boy, he is lost, groweth a man, falls in love, and is read to get another child, and all this in two hours’ space.19 Beaumont exploits romance’s geographical range in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, in which Rafe travels from his

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


grocer’s shop to Waltham Forest, Krakow and Mile End before returning to his shop to die, and the play exaggerates the artificial twists of romance narrative when Rafe’s movements are dictated not by the sequential demands of an integrated plot, but by the whims of George and Nell. Similarly, Rafe’s entire romance career is compressed into a series of incidents that his final speech in Act Five itemizes but cannot fully integrate; the speech also retrospectively supplies a motive for Rafe’s knightly deeds – his love for the ‘black-­thumbed’ cobbler’s maid Susan – that went unmentioned in Act One. At the moment of his death, Rafe is a hypercharged exemplar of romance’s temporal exaggerations and elisions. The tight chronological boundaries of city comedy are exploded by the expansive and more loosely controlled romance narrative. Yet ‘The London Merchant’ and Rafe’s story occupy many of the same geographical and temporal moments. The two narratives meet in Waltham Forest, where locations such as the Bell Inn are hastily recast as the ‘ancient castle . . . Of the most holy order of the Bell’ (2.356–7). The would-­be knight makes his way through a modern world that remoulds itself around him. In leisurely romance tempo, Rafe asks the ‘Knight of the holy Bell’ – really the Host of the Bell Inn – ‘If aught you do of sad adventures know, / Where errant knight may through his prowess win / Eternal fame’ (3.205, 208–10). The Host then instructs the Tapster in a brisk, instrumental modern aside, ‘Sirrah, go to Nick the barber, and bid him prepare himself as I told you before, quickly’ (212–13), before entering Rafe’s romance tempo in a lengthy speech that both describes Rafe’s foe in the heightened mode of romance and gives ‘Nick the barber’ time to prepare himself for his role as the giant Barbaroso. This speech fuses archaic style and contemporary subject-­matter, being simultaneously a portrait of a giant and of a Jacobean barber-­surgeon, with his razor, apron, shop-­sign, comb, and ‘bullets’ of soap and scissors: Not far from hence, near to a craggy cliff, At the north end of this distressed town,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

There doth stand a lowly house Ruggedly builded, and in it a cave In which an ugly giant now doth won [dwell], Ycleped Barbaroso. In his hand He shakes a naked lance of purest steel, With sleeves turned up, and him before he wears A motley garment to preserve his clothes From blood of those knights which he massacres, And ladies gent. Without his door doth hang A copper basin on a prickant spear, At which no sooner gentle knights can knock But that the shrill sound fierce Barbaroso hears, And rushing forth, brings in the errant knight, And sets him down in an enchanted chair. Then with an engine which he hath prepared, With forty teeth, he claws his courtly crown; Next makes him wink, and underneath his chin He plants a brazen pece [cup] of mighty bord [rim], And knocks his bullets round about his cheeks, Whilst with his fingers, and an instrument With which he snaps his hair off, he doth fill The wretch’s ears with a most hideous noise. Thus every knight adventurer he doth trim, And now no creature dares encounter him. (3.227–52) The Host mimics the ways in which writers such as Spenser used archaism to give their works a sheen of antiquity, using archaic terms such as ‘won’, ‘pece’ and ‘bord’, and syntactic forms such as ‘ycleped’ and ‘prickant’. His speech demonstrates linguistically the ways in which the characters of ‘The London Merchant’ both accommodate and exploit Rafe’s narrative. Part of the comedy comes from the ways in which a modern character such as a barber surgeon, treating distinctly new-­fangled diseases such as syphilis, is forced into the world of romance. This fusion between the spaces and characters of romance and city comedy is not Beaumont’s only temporal manipulation.

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


Although scholars have attempted to explain the complex narrative manoeuvres of The Knight of the Burning Pestle by dividing the play into two, three or even four plot-­lines, the narrative fragments cohere only in the place, space and time of the Blackfriars playhouse.20 This becomes clear when the play is staged: not only are the roles of George and Nell performed by members of the Blackfriars company, but other members of the playing company must also be pressed into action as Tim, George and the other characters of the citizens’ plot. In particular, the Krakow sequence in Act Four has the potential to put a strain on the personnel as well as the other resources of the Blackfriars playhouse, and recent revivals of Beaumont’s play have foregrounded this moment of tension through casting. In Adele Thomas’s 2014 production at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, an actor (Dennis Herdman) who first appeared as one of a group trimming the candles, and had earlier been reluctantly recruited as Rafe’s squire, Tim, appeared – black beard and all – as Pompiona, his enthusiastic performance sealing his acceptance of his part in The Knight. A year earlier, in 2013, Frances Marshall’s staged reading in Globe Education’s Read Not Dead series gave a larger role to the disgruntled Prologue (Martin Hodgson), who was forced to play Pompiona himself. The taught dynamic that underlies the interaction of the ‘London Merchant’ and Rafe plots becomes yet more clear when George and Nell intervene and influence events, in particular the moment in Act Three when Rafe initially ignores a request for payment for his night’s ‘lodging’ at the ‘castle’. The Tapster interrupts him in full romance flow, saying, ‘Sir, there is twelve shillings to pay’, but Rafe’s only response is to praise the ‘merry squire Tapstero . . . for comforting our souls with double jug’ and to offer him advice on how he should behave ‘if advent’rous fortune prick thee forth’ (3.148–51). The Host then repeats the request in a romance idiom: ‘Thou valiant Knight of the Burning Pestle, give ear to me: there is twelve shillings to pay, and as I am a true knight, I will not bate a penny’ (158–60). This statement provokes a response not


Temporality, Genre and Experience

only from Rafe – who offers a knighthood to any of the Host’s ‘squires’ who ‘will follow arms’ – but also from George and Nell, who pay the ‘bill’ themselves when the Host threatens Rafe (167, 176–7). The Host’s movement between linguistic modes underlines the performative aspects that romance language takes in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, but this interaction is also one of a series of moments at which the playing company take money from George and Nell, turning the tables on their persecutors by exploiting them financially. Beaumont’s act breaks deepen and complicate the relationship between theatrical and narrative time and space. At the time of the play’s first performance in 1607, act breaks do not seem to have been employed in outdoor playhouses such as the Fortune, Globe or Red Bull; they were necessary for practical reasons in the indoor playhouses because performances were candle-­lit and the candles needed to be periodically trimmed and replaced. At the Blackfriars these short intervals were filled with music and sometimes dancing, and dramatists such as John Marston in The Fawn and Thomas Middleton in Your Five Gallants had begun to experiment with extending action into them.21 As perhaps befits people whose primary theatrical experience centres on the products of the outdoor playhouses, George and Nell do not respect the act breaks. They disrupt the performances of a boy dancer in Interludes I and III, criticize the music in Interlude II, and eventually insist that Ralph enter and make a May-Day speech, written in glorious over-­the-top epic fourteeners, in Interlude IV.22 The performance of The Knight of the Burning Pestle thus disrupts the conventional temporal rhythm of the Blackfriars playhouse, just as the citizens disrupt ‘The London Merchant’.

Time and performance As we have seen, in his preface to the 1613 first edition of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Walter Burre attempts to deal with the failure of Beaumont’s play in performance by arguing

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


that its original spectators did not understand its ‘privy mark of irony’ and suggesting that readers approach it as they would Don Quixote. The comparison is not only strategically but thematically appropriate. In addition to the narrative correspondences between The Knight and Don Quixote, the two protagonists of both works are at odds with their own temporal moment because they are caught up in romance convention. Don Quixote’s household lament the effect of reading ‘those accursed books of Knighthood’ on their master.23 Rafe’s predicament is perhaps even more acute, as he is rushed from one location and mode to another by the demands of George and Nell. Although he first appears reading Palmerin d’Oliva, and he apparently enters wholeheartedly into the stories that George and Nell want to tell, we can never be entirely sure that Rafe really wants to be a romance hero, because he says very little that has not been laid out for him. As George’s apprentice, he – like the boy players – is under the control of an adult master, and his time is not his own. The performance history of The Knight of the Burning Pestle also suggests that the play itself was at odds with its temporal moment. Scholars interested in the play’s initial failure in performance have generally focuses on questions of social rank, and their debate has often settled into two opposing positions: the play failed either because its satire of citizens was not harsh enough and so disappointed higher-­status spectators, or because there were too many citizens in the audience who failed to see humour in that satire.24 Focusing on the events of 1607, critics have often overlooked the play’s return in the 1630s. Reissued in print in 1635, with a new set of prefatory materials stressing its comic qualities and a title-­page claiming that it appears ‘as it is now Acted by Her Majesties Servants at the Private House in Drury lane’, the Knight was performed at court on 28 February 1636.25 It was also apparently revived outside London at Skipton Castle later that year, when the accounts of Henry, Lord Clifford, include a payment of five shillings to ‘Adam Gerdler whome my lord sent for from Yorke to act a part in the Kt of the burning pestle’.26 We do not know


Temporality, Genre and Experience

which role Adam Gerdler played, although it is tempting to imagine that he was recruited to play Rafe. A revival of interest in The Knight of the Burning Pestle was also registered elsewhere in the theatrical repertory. Thomas Randolph’s The Muses’ Looking Glass, performed by a new boys’ company, the Children of the Revels, at the Salisbury Court playhouse around 1630, features a pair of citizens who invade the stage, while Richard Brome’s 1635 comedy The Sparagus Garden includes a citizen’s wife who lists a series of desires that culminate in a reference to Beaumont’s play: rebecca   [. . .] I long to see a play, and above all plays The Knight of the Burning – what d’ye call’t? moneylacks   The Knight of the Burning Pestle. rebecca   Pestle, is it? I thought of another thing, but I would fain see it. They say there’s a grocer’s boy kills a giant in it, and another little boy that does a citizen’s wife the daintiliest – but I would fain see their best actor do me: I would so put him to’t, they should find another thing in handling of me, I warrant ’em.27

(2.1.199–201) Like The Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Sparagus Garden was performed by Queen Henrietta Maria’s Men at the Cockpit, and Rebecca’s comments suggest that the same actor played her and Nell. The allusion mutually promotes The Sparagus Garden and The Knight, and there is little sense that the taste of the citizen’s wife is being satirized or brought into question. Her awareness of the sexual joke in the title of The Knight is part of her characterization as a wife who longs to have a child but is unable to get pregnant, a longing that the play treats with some sympathy. All in all, the allusion suggests that Caroline audiences understood not only the ironies of The Knight of the Burning Pestle but also its metatheatrical complexities. The play had, perhaps, finally got its timing right.

Timing The Knight of the Burning Pestle


It has periodically been argued that Shakespeare’s plays were ahead of their time. For Kiernan Ryan, for example, a play such as Troilus and Cressida – which, like The Knight, may have failed on its first performance – was ‘not merely out of sync with its time, but so far ahead of its time that it took three centuries for the theatre and for critics to catch up with it’.28 It took only three decades for the theatre to catch up with The Knight of the Burning Pestle, but the varying responses of audiences in 1607 and the 1630s nonetheless suggest the extent to which Beaumont’s play caught its earliest spectators off guard. A failure and a success – Don Quixote’s younger brother and its elder – The Knight of the Burning Pestle continues to meddle productively with our sense of its own timing.

9 Time, Tragedy and the Text of Antony and Cleopatra Rebecca Bushnell

Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra enacts a massive power struggle among its Egyptian and Roman antagonists, and part of that struggle involves time. As many critics have recognized, time seems to move differently in Egypt and Rome, and Caesar’s final victory would imply that the time of Rome and of history itself wins out in the end.1 However, through its extraordinary temporal flux and lack of respect for the neoclassical unities, the First Folio version of the play tells another story. This chapter focuses on how the play’s editors have themselves attempted to control the play’s temporality by modifying spelling and imposing act and scene divisions. These editorial interventions in effect impose Rome and its time on Shakespeare’s ‘infinite’ temporal ‘variety’. As I and others have argued at length, temporality is always crucial to our experience of tragedy.2 It has become common to think that tragic time is ‘now’, binding the characters – the actors of the catastrophe – in the anxiety and horror of a blinding


Temporality, Genre and Experience

present moment, what Northrop Frye has called ‘the sense of the one-­directional quality of life, where everything happens once and for all, where every act brings unavoidable and fateful consequences, and where all experience vanishes, not simply into the past, but into nothingness, annihilation’.3 Critics often contrast this sense of linear tragic time pointed towards death with comedic time: for example, Matthew Wagner describes in Shakespearean comedy a kind of ‘heterotemporality’ that is ‘separate from, but in dialogue with, the time of our everyday lives’. In his thinking, this ‘suspended time is the forward motion of time . . . slowing or stopping altogether’.4 Wagner echoes here other critics’ views that comedy generally takes place in a space – a tavern, a country house, a forest – where clocks neither work nor matter. However, delving deeper in the experience of theatre reveals that tragedies are temporally complex. In these, time can also speed up or slow down, and tragedies can both draw us back both to the past and stretch into the future. Drawing on phenomenologists’ formulations of time, Wagner has also suggested that all of Shakespearean theatre unfolds in a kind of ‘thick’ time which layers ‘past, present, and future as one experience’, ‘weighting . . . the present with the past and future’.5 While tragedy may evoke the anxiety of existing in an onrushing present, we may be anxious precisely because that present embeds both the past and the future it brings into being. Tragic time may make us experience that blinding present, and in particular, the agony of the moment of decision, when an action must happen that will drive everything to come. But that moment’s temporal framework is profoundly unstable. That instability may make us both fear and crave an end to all that flux. But even that end is not always final: a tragic death can at once impose control and offer a moment of ecstatic self-­assertion, and an escape from time. All of these issues are particularly complicated and compelling in Antony and Cleopatra because of that play’s formal and thematic engagement with time. As a play that spans continents and the events of a decade, Antony and

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


Cleopatra notoriously violates the neoclassical unities of time, place and action. Further, as David Kaula has put it, ‘through his abrupt shifts of locale’ in Antony and Cleopatra, ‘Shakespeare . . . creates the impression that time moves at different velocities in different places’.6 In Rome, time moves quickly, but in Egypt it slows down: we might think of Cleopatra’s languorous wish to ‘sleep out this great gap of time’ (1.5.5) when Antony is away.7 This temporal oscillation frames the characters’ differing relationships to the past, present and the future. Caesar’s time, Roman time, is that of the present pressing into the future. The soothsayer’s prophecies mostly depict Caesar’s future of dominating Egypt, and it is clear that Caesar also owns the ‘time of universal peace’ (4.6.5) and empire, imagined to extend to the present of the early modern audience. Antony, in contrast, is notoriously stuck in the past, except in those moments where he joins with Cleopatra in the present of their pleasures. Even at the play’s beginning, Antony is already a figure of legend who has somehow overstayed his welcome. In the end, he desperately wishes not to be here and now. Only Cleopatra manages to slip effortlessly among past, present and future, dissolving their boundaries. On the one hand, she is manifestly a creature who lives in the present; she is driven by immediate events, living fully in that ‘great gap of time’ that is now. Yet for her, the distinctions among past, present and future are volatile. In her death, Cleopatra sees herself beginning anew, always reinventing herself. As she prepares herself for her suicide she declares to her ladies, ‘I am again for Cydnus / To meet Mark Antony’ (5.2.227–8): her future thus repeats the past. But in the eternal present of her Egypt, she can also exist in the future. In her final hour, as she contemplates her defeat and her future in Caesar’s hands, she warns her ladies about what lies before them: that in Rome ‘the quick comedians / Extemporally will stage us, and present / Our Alexandrian revels; Antony / Shall be brought drunken forth; and I shall see / Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness / I’th’posture of a whore’ (5.2.215–19). As we all


Temporality, Genre and Experience

know, this passage exposes the squeaking boy who would have played Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s theatre (an effect long lost for later audiences).8 The image of the ‘Boy Cleopatra’ is a kind of cosmic wormhole out of the (past) time of the play into the repeated replaying of Antony and Cleopatra’s story, debased by the image of the squeaking boy and the whore, yet also transcending that debasement by evoking the art of the theatre.9 Janet Adelman has argued that Antony and Cleopatra is essentially a tragic experience embedded in a comic structure,10 but one could also see Cleopatra herself as a comic figure who can escape the constraints of linear or tragic time as she resists the press of tragic history in the play she inhabits.11 Such, in brief, is the story of time in play’s action. How does that sense of time interact with both an audience’s and a reader’s experience of it? I have argued elsewhere that we must always remember how the materiality of dramatic media ‘can shape and disrupt our temporal experience of tragedy; not only do we encounter plays differently in print, performance, and film, but each medium has its own complex temporal structure’.12 As it has come down to us in the Folio text, Antony and Cleopatra is clearly too long to perform in the customary ‘two hours traffic of the stage’. While we have no record of its performance in Shakespeare’s time, if it was staged then, many scenes would have been cut, and it remains a challenge to stage to this day.13 Thus, many of us now encounter the full play as a text, through reading. This chapter explores the temporality of Antony and Cleopatra as experienced in a book, and, more specifically, how textual editing may shape the reader’s experience of its time.14 Two editorial challenges that may seem minor at first show what is at stake in a book’s management of time: first, editors’ efforts to alter the inconsistent spelling of names in the Folio text; second, the insertion of act and scene divisions. Both interventions involve the imprint of ‘Rome’ and the play’s relationship to the classical tradition, so significant for this play (in Phyllis Rackin’s words), ‘perfectly calculated to offend the rising tide of neoclassical taste’.15 Editorial changes that ‘correct’ names and

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


insert act and scene divisions impose Rome and its time on Shakespeare’s ‘infinite variety’. As for any Shakespeare play, editors of Antony and Cleopatra must decide how much to normalize the early text’s words and spelling. The Folio has Mark Anthonie and Mark Anthony vs. Plutarch’s Marcus Antonius; Varrius vs. Varius in Plutarch; Scarrus vs. the ‘strictly correct’ Scaurus; and Thidius vs. North’s Thyreus vs. Plutarch’s Thyrsus. For Plutarch’s Dercetaeus, the Folio gives Dercetus or Decretas. Current practice modernizes spelling except where, as Ania Loomba puts it in her Norton edition, one can retain ‘older variants of words and spellings where they help to convey either a linguistic richness or older meanings that would be lost in translation’.16 Michael Neill’s Oxford edition is more reluctant to change spellings: in particular, Neill resisted the usual Oxford style of modernization in his treatment of Roman proper names, which are spelled inconsistently within the Folio and differently from in Shakespeare’s source, Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives (1579 and 1603). Neill marks this difference defiantly by entitling his play Anthony and Cleopatra, as it is spelled in the Folio’s running heads; within the text, Neill preserves the Folio spellings when he thinks they are what Shakespeare wanted, while using Roman versions for persons who are not included in the action, e.g. ‘ “Ptolemy” rather than Ptolomy in [the Folio]’.17 Neill notes that early editors felt little compunction in simply using North’s Plutarch to ‘correct’ the Folio spellings to their Roman versions: for example, Theobald uses North’s Thyreus rather than the Folio’s Thidius (but not, curiously, Plutarch’s Thyrsus), and most editors opt for the Romanized ‘Antony’ (based on Antonius) rather than ‘Anthony’.18 Some modern editors have cheerfully chosen some of the Folio versions of the names, seeing them as deliberate authorial alterations (e.g. Camidius instead of the Roman Canidius), while rejecting others as the compositors’ misreadings of the manuscript’s spelling. Why does it matter? As Peter Stallybrass and Margreta de Grazia have noted, in this period ‘what we identify as


Temporality, Genre and Experience

[spelling] anomalies’ might be seen as ‘quite literally typical’ – that is, artefacts of the printing process – but they can make a difference for the reader’s experience of the text.19 And why does spelling matter with regard to tragic temporality? Neill sees ‘the attempt to give the names in their “correct” [or Roman] form’ as ‘a textual counterpart’ of the ‘theatrical attempts to archaeologize the play which reach their disastrous apogee in the spectacular nineteenth-­century productions that boasted of their pedigree from “the splendid Collection of Roman and Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum” ’.20 That is, the imposition of ‘correct’ Roman spellings reflects a false historicizing of a play to Roman moment. One can see it as a reverse classical anachronism imposed in the name of history. Classicizing the names thus constitutes an orthographic Romanization of the play, and in this sense, it testifies to the longevity of the ‘Roman’ view of its events. The Folio’s variant spellings of names do represent a moment in time, and they evoke a kind of eccentric, hybrid classicism, mixed up in the centuries of transmission from Plutarch to Jaggard’s print shop. North’s own spellings, of course, derive from Amyot’s 1572 French translation of Plutarch’s Greek versions of Roman names. The editorial restoration of names to North’s spellings reasserts the authority of a sixteenth-­century view of Rome, outside of the play’s time. One might note that in the Folio, Caesar’s name is never spelled differently (he is called Octavius in the stage directions, but only once in the dialogue; otherwise everyone calls him Caesar). Antony’s name, in contrast, occurs in several spellings and forms; nor is Cleopatra’s name rendered consistently (at least by Roman mouths).21 Regularizing the names puts a stop to this ‘infinite variety’, which evokes different moments in time, thus trying to contain what I would call the ‘Cleopatra effect’ of temporal layering embedded in the Folio text. This editorial Romanizing of names is paralleled by the imposition on the play of classical act and scene divisions. In the Folio, some of the plays have act and scene divisions (that may trace back to performance by Shakespeare’s company);

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


some have divisions apparently imposed by the printer; some lack them entirely. James Hirsh argues that many of the Folio’s act divisions were inserted (probably by Ralph Crane) in an effort to make the plays appear more ‘respectable’ or neoclassical in print.22 As with several other Folio texts, the first page of Antony and Cleopatra ostentatiously begins with such a ‘Roman’ or neoclassical gesture, announcing Actus Primus, Scaena Prima, but then the printer apparently abandoned the effort to divide the play into acts and scenes.23 In early English drama, the habit of dividing plays into acts has a complicated history, related both to the uneven impact of the classical tradition and to playhouse practices. It is generally acknowledged that in England, the so-­called five-­act dramatic structure was adapted from Seneca and Terence, beginning most visibly with Gorboduc in 1562. From the evidence of surviving texts, it appears that up until the seventeenth century, act divisions occurred almost exclusively in academic plays and the children’s companies’ productions, and very few in the plays put on by the adult companies. The classically minded Ben Jonson was the exception to this rule in his scrupulous adherence to classical forms. In Gary Taylor’s analysis of act divisions in early modern English play texts and play performances, he argues that act divisions appeared in the printed plays of the adult companies only after 1610; the adult companies adopted act intervals when they moved indoors,24 because these intervals allowed for the trimming of the candles needed for interior illumination.25 It appears that act divisions were thus both driven by performance considerations and meant to conform with an idea of what a ‘proper’ play should be. Scene divisions present additional complications in the English dramatic tradition.26 Generally speaking, a ‘scene’ is understood as shaped by the entrances and exits of characters, sometimes with a clearing of the stage, and sometimes only with the entrance of a new group. As opposed to thinking in terms of ‘acts’, early modern English playwrights do seem to have thought of something like ‘scenes’ when composing their


Temporality, Genre and Experience

plays, insofar as they constructed a sequence of episodes. However, what constituted a scene was not rigidly defined, and in print was not usually marked with the word ‘scene’.27 While sixteenth- and early seventeenth-­century printers used different typographical markers to distinguish episodic breaks, as Claire Bourne observes, ‘the appearance of scene divisions in printed plays did not become conventional before the mid-­seventeenth century’.28 Like the division of acts, marking a ‘scene’, whether in English or its Latinate form, then added a kind of classical gloss to a play, however after the fact it was. While inserting act and scene divisions thus retroactively regularized a play, it could also affect an audience’s and a reader’s temporal experience. In performance, if the players stopped the action to trim the candles, they and the audience literally took a break in time. Knowing that the time of the play did not extend throughout such intervals, an audience could suspend its relationship to the action. (Nowadays we experience such a break during an intermission, not necessarily held after every act, but still usually observed in relation to them.) Alternatively, that interval may also be sensed as a gap in the play’s time: Samuel Johnson observed that it is ‘between the acts’ when ‘the time required by the fable elapses’.29 Breaks between scenes, by contrast, are not always experienced in the same way in performance as a gap, if the stage is not emptied, but they are marked in reading, when they can suggest a temporal break or a new dynamic in the action. In reading, of course, both act and scene divisions have become a way of locating one’s self in the text and in the sequence of events. Act and scene divisions maintain a sense of control and awareness of one’s relationship as reader and audience to the action in the play, a way of defending oneself against spatial and temporal flux or confusion. When Shakespeare’s first eighteenth-­century editors imposed acts and scenes on Antony and Cleopatra, what did they think they were doing? Nicholas Rowe’s six-­volume 1709 edition of Shakespeare’s plays was the first to do so, as part of what Robert Hamm has described as Jacob Tonson’s project to create

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


a series of vernacular classics resembling his editions of Greek and Latin ones.30 Rowe’s many changes make Shakespeare’s plays look both modern and classical, or rather ‘new Roman’. He normalized spelling, grammar and punctuation, added stage directions and a list of dramatis personae, and inserted act and scene divisions. As the passage shown in Figure 9.1 demonstrates, Rowe’s scene demarcations indicate a shift in place, but not necessarily in time: so, in Act 1 he only marks a new scene when the action shifts to Rome.31 (Gary Taylor speculates that in doing so, Rowe was ‘influenced by Restoration adaptations’ and their focus on scene as locale.)32 In conjunction with eighteenth-­century thinking about scene design, Rowe’s act and scene divisions thus brought the text into conformity with neoclassical models. For Rowe, indeed, all the places in this

FIGURE 9.1  Act One, Scene Two in Antony and Cleopatra, Nicholas Rowe, ed., The Works of William Shakespear in Six Volumes Adorn’d with Cuts: Vol. 6 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1709), 2665 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania)


Temporality, Genre and Experience

play could ultimately be subsumed within Rome: a note at the end of the dramatis personae declares that ‘the Scene lyes in several parts of the Roman Empire’, erasing any independent Egypt from the play’s geography. When Alexander Pope edited Antony and Cleopatra (also for Tonson) in 1725, he introduced more scene divisions than Rowe had provided, modifying Rowe’s more theatrical version into a reader’s text. Pope’s general preface disparages the Folio’s design, noting that: the Plays not having been before so much as distinguish’d by Acts and Scenes, they are in this edition [the Folio] divided according as they play’d them, often where there is no pause in the action, or where they thought fit to make a breach in it for the sake of Musick, Masques, or Monsters.33 That is, Pope describes the Folio as a text prepared carelessly by irresponsible actors, whereas his edition will be a text prepared for the clarification of judicious readers. Pope’s preface further boasts that in his text, ‘the Scenes are mark’d so distinctly that every removal of place is specify’d; which is more necessary in this Author than any other since he shifts them more frequently; and sometimes, without attending to this particular, the reader would have met with obscurities’.34 For Pope, the marking of acts and scenes lets the reader know where he or she is, as it does today, in two senses: what places are represented in the play, but also where the reader is in the process of reading. Despite what he says in his preface, Pope’s marking of scene divisions is concerned not only with place but also with time. As Samuel Johnson later noted, ‘by supposition, as place is introduced, time may be extended’.35 So for example, where Rowe ended Act One, Scene One only with the shift of location from Alexandria to Rome, Pope started Scene Two still in Egypt after Antony and Cleopatra leave ‘with their train’ and the concluding comments of Demetrius and Philo, and before the re-­entrance of Cleopatra’s attendants and the soothsayer

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


(Figure 9.2). So this is not explicitly a ‘removal of place’ (while there is a clearing of the stage) – that is, a change of place of the kind that Rowe indicated (e.g. from Alexandria to Rome and back). It is not clear whether by inserting a scene break here, Pope meant to suggest a change in place or a gap in time. Indeed, he could easily have inserted a new scene without the stage being cleared: after the interchange of Cleopatra’s maids and the soothsayer shown in Figure 9.3, Pope started a new scene with the entrance of Cleopatra. Here he appears to be following the classical precedent of beginning a new scene when just the configuration of characters changed. Later editors have removed this scene break: so what was Act One, Scene Two for Rowe was Scene Five for Pope and Scene Four for Capell and all others thereafter. Such variations recur in the play’s editorial history, especially in Act Three: there, for example, what is now Act Three, Scene Twelve was Scene Seven for Rowe, Scene Nine for Pope and Scene Ten for Capell and others.36 All of these interventions suggest that editors

FIGURE 9.2  Act One, Scene Two in Antony and Cleopatra, Alexander Pope, ed., The Works of Shakespear: In Six Volumes: Volume 5 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1725), 309 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania)


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were compelled to control the reader’s sense of time and place in this supremely disorienting play. With some variations, all modern editions of Antony and Cleopatra preserve the editorial structure of its acts and scenes that became fixed in the nineteenth century. Modern scholars may be embarrassed by them, but apparently we just cannot do without them for getting our bearings in reading, writing and talking about the play. As David Bevington notes in his New Cambridge edition, they are ‘benchmarks for reference’ and matters of tradition. Indeed, Bevington concludes there is no reason to change them, precisely and paradoxically because of what he calls the ‘near impossibility of agreement as to what constitutes a “scene” in the fluid movement of this play’.37 Some modern editors have dealt with their anxiety about using the inherited act and scene divisions by minimizing them typographically. In his Oxford edition, Michael Neill is careful that ‘both act and scene divisions are rendered as inconspicuous

FIGURE 9.3  Act One, Scene Three in Antony and Cleopatra, Alexander Pope, ed., The Works of Shakespear: In Six Volumes: Volume 5 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1725), 312 (reproduced with permission of Howard Horace Furness Shakespeare Memorial Library, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania)

Time, Tragedy and Antony and Cleopatra


as possible’.38 The RSC Shakespeare edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen tries to go a step further in intervening to signal and control the passing of time. While Bate and Rasmussen, like Neill, seem embarrassed to be seen using the imposed structure of acts and scenes, they do it anyway, marking the divisions in brackets (rather more conspicuously than Neill). However, they then create a new category that they call ‘a running scene’. They explain that: Nowadays, partly under the influence of film, we tend to consider a scene to be a dramatic unit that ends with either a change of imaginary location or a significant passage of time within the narrative. Shakespeare’s fluidity of composing accords well with this convention, so in addition to act and scene numbers we provide a running scene count in the right margin at the beginning of each new scene, in the typeface used for editorial directions. Where there is a scene break caused by a momentary bare stage, but the location does not change and extra time does not pass, we use the convention running scene continues. [Boldface in original] ‘There is inevitably a degree of editorial judgment’, they write, ‘in making such calls, but the system is very valuable in suggesting the pace of the plays’.39 Bate and Rasmussen thus make repeated judgements about temporality, managing time for the reader with an excess of paratext in an effort to produce a hybrid of a reading text and play script. This edition of the text thus works to determine and mark the passage of time even as it attempts to elide the transition of acts and scenes, making judgements about what constitutes ‘extra time’ or not. One can see the ‘running scene’ innovation as resisting the imposition of the neoclassical labelling and divisions on the text, but at the same time one could also argue that this typographically over-­determined editorial intervention in fact amplifies the neoclassical effect in further attempting to shape or control the reader’s temporal experience.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

This chapter began by arguing that the experience of time is critical to tragedy, evoking anxiety about our experience of existing in the present and trembling between the irrecoverable past and the unknown future – a past and a future that are themselves folded into that present. Tragedy also evokes in us the fear and a craving for the control of time, and for an end, when time must stop, and we and the players bend to that necessity. With its dizzying hybridity and fluidity of time and space identified with Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra exposes the dynamics of the control of tragic time. Time is not a neutral medium in the play; rather, it is the object of a struggle for mastery. Over the centuries, editorial intervention has in effect ‘Romanized’ or classicized the text, to define a different kind of tragedy in which time is under control, and where time is shaped, measured and understood. We have come to accept these interventions as normal practice, part of the play’s history that we cannot escape, even though we know they were imposed. But we should not ignore what is at stake when we submit to them.



10 ‘The Death of Fathers’: Succession and Diachronic Time in Shakespearean Tragedy William C. Carroll

Succession When the topic in early modern drama was succession, dynastic change or the death of a father, Shakespeare – like many other writers in the period – turned to the story of Priam’s death, the fall of Troy and the diaspora that followed. This diaspora mythically led not only to Aeneas’s founding of Rome, but also Brute’s establishing Britain. Shakespeare invokes Troy and Priam’s fate throughout his works, from the Henry VI plays, Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Rape of Lucrece to Julius Caesar (where Cassius describes himself as being like ‘Aeneas, our great ancestor, / [Who] Did from the flames of Troy upon his


Temporality, Genre and Experience

shoulder / The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber / Did I the tired Caesar’ [JC 1.2.112–15]).1 And at roughly the same time as the composition of Hamlet, Shakespeare turned to a full treatment of the event itself in Troilus and Cressida: ‘In Troy there lies the scene. From isles of Greece / The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed, / Have to the port of Athens sent their ships / Fraught with the ministers and instruments / Of cruel war’ (TC Prologue 1–5). Priam is always the standard of patriarchal sufficiency; even Titus Andronicus, who has ‘five-­ and-twenty valiant sons’, remarks that this is only ‘Half of the number that King Priam had’ (TA 1.1.82–3).2 The narrative of Priam and Troy’s fall had gained new power in the years just before and after Queen Elizabeth’s death, especially as invoked by James VI and his supporters. James had styled himself, and been heralded as, the new Brute, who (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth) presided over a united kingdom of ancient Britain.3 As James warned his son Henry in his Basilicon Doron (1598), in a passage urging him to uphold the principle of succession, If God send you succession [children], be carefull for their virtuous education . . . And in case it please God to provide you to all these three Kingdomes, make your eldest sonne Isaac, leaving him all your kingdomes; and provide the rest with private possessions: Otherwayes by deviding your kingdomes, yee shall leave the seed of division and discord among your posteritie; as befell to this Ile, by the division and assignement thereof, to the three sonnes of Brutus, Locrine, Albanact, and Camber. And in a pointed allusion to the childless Queen Elizabeth’s reluctance to back his claim to the English throne, James concluded, But if God give you not succession, defraud never the nearest by right, whatsoever conceit yee have of the person: For Kingdomes are ever at Gods disposition . . . lying no

Succession and Diachronic Time


more in the Kings, nor peoples hands to dispossess the righteous heire.4 Shakespeare was well aware of the contested nature of succession, on the level of the family and of the state, even in his earliest comedies. The disputed French property in Love’s Labour’s Lost, for example, the intertwined inheritance disputes among the brothers in As You Like It and many of the sonnets reflect Shakespeare’s interest in the ways in which children inherit their parents’ values, property or appearance. The remarkable achievement of the eight-­play history cycle from Richard II through to Richard III turns largely on the rationale and succession consequences of the deposition and murder of Richard II. The tragedies written between 1599 and 1607 – Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth chief among them – represent succession crises of the family and of the state. Each of these plays focuses on the necessity of the death of the father, real or symbolic, and each brings its central tragic figure to confront his place in diachronic time. As Macbeth notes, in marvelling at the final two predictions of the witches, ‘By Finel’s death, I know I am Thane of Glamis, / But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives /. . . and to be king / Stands not within the prospect of belief’ (1.3.71–4). Macbeth’s understanding of his place and title derives directly from his father’s death and his knowledge of that fact; the other predicted titles are as yet ungrounded in death, hence unbelievable. Macbeth will discover that noble titles are received only when the current occupant of the position is dead; thus the death of the king, and the evacuation of the office of kingship, is necessary not only for Macbeth to become king, but for anyone to become king, by whatever means of succession. Macbeth’s musings are ironic because his initial premise – death of Finel/father = succession of Macbeth/son – is the very paradigm of primogeniture that he will himself challenge, and that a number of Shakespeare’s tragedies contest and mystify. Succession is thus the political and familial manifestation of history as


Temporality, Genre and Experience

diachronic time; none of the tragedies worries this topic more than Hamlet.

Hamlet and the interim The Player’s speech in Hamlet 2.2 – Aeneas’s tale to Dido – is one of many moments in the play concerned with the problematic nature of succession: a diachronic process, both natural and constructed, that gives birth to new generations through the necessary death of the old.5 The death of Priam and the fall of Troy represented genealogical ground zero for founding narratives of several different countries, the Trojan diaspora forming an originary narrative for multiple European nationalisms. Noting that the play as a whole ‘alludes to the most famous imperial falls of ancient history’, Margreta de Grazia observes that ‘Troy was the kingdom of the past, Carthage of the present, and Rome of the future’, but also that ‘the death of Priam was the foundational moment of England’s own history’.6 It has been less noted, though, that ‘hellish’ Pyrrhus (the son of Achilles who kills Priam) also played a part in this history. As Holinshed (following Geoffrey of Monmouth) relates, after Brute (the grandson – or great-­grandson – of Aeneas) accidentally killed his father, he was as a result banished from ‘his countrie, and thereupon got him into Grecia, where travelling the countrie, he lighted by chance among some of the Trojan offspring’, and, ‘by meanes of the lin[e]age (whereof he was descended)’, achieved great reputation. Chief among those whom Brute met was none other than Pyrrhus, who ‘having no issue by his wife Hermione, married Andromache, late wife unto Hector: and by hir had three sonnes’ (as Brute also eventually did).7 So Pyrrhus, the killer of ‘Old grandsire Priam’ – the archetypal ‘father’, having produced fifty sons – later meets up with Brute and ultimately engenders multiple sons of his own. Fathering sons and fathering nations become complementary, if not identical actions. Both actions embody, on different levels, the contradictions of succession.

Succession and Diachronic Time


The early attempts to console and discipline the morose Hamlet in the opening court scene involve a strange idea of reassurance: Gertrude says ‘all that lives must die, / Passing through nature to eternity’ (1.2.72–3) while Claudius offers ‘But you must know your father lost a father, / That father lost lost his, and the survivor bound / In filial obligation’ to do ‘obsequious sorrow’ only for a limited time (1.2.89–92). Otherwise, ‘ ’tis unmanly grief . . . a fault to nature, / To reason most absurd, whose common theme / Is death of fathers’ (1.2.94, 102–4). Yet immediately after this elaborate exposition of ‘natural’ succession, Claudius undermines the legitimacy of his own position by naming Hamlet to the court as ‘the most immediate to our throne’ (1.2.109), and so Claudius’s successor. To accept that succession, Hamlet, Claudius says, must ‘think of us / As of a father’ (1.2.107–8). No ghost needs come from the grave to tell us that Hamlet as a whole is obsessed with problematic mismatches among the multiple kinds of time governing the drama. In Michel Serres’ term, the play stages a ‘polychronous’ palimpsest of past and present eras – biblical, Greco-Roman, Danish, Saxon, contemporary English c. 1600 – while a fearful glimpse of time’s endpoint, in its multiple references to ‘doomsday’, looms over the entire play (‘the moist star . . . / Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse’ [1.1.117–19]; ‘Then is doomsday near’ [2.2.234]; ‘The houses he makes lasts till doomsday’ [5.1.55]).8 Hamlet’s is partly a chrono-­tragedy; not the story of a man who could not make up his mind, but of one whose time is so ‘out of joint’ (1.5.186) that he can neither resist his own belatedness nor place himself in history. The Player’s speech represents a key point in history, in which a father’s death is unforgettable, momentous and foundational – no wonder Hamlet calls for it – while Claudius and Gertrude offer Hamlet instead a diachronic vision of time in which the death of a father is simply one indistinguishable point in a vanishing series, moving from one death to the next, each body generically anonymized, used up and forgotten as the process surges forward in an irreversible biological process.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Genealogical time produces the concept of lineage and its naturalized ideology of patrilineal succession – a ‘line’ that moves in only one direction – as authenticated by the technology of heraldry. Hamlet is replete with heraldic allusions. Even the gravedigger boasts of his ‘arms’ (both anatomical and heraldic) and his status as a ‘gentleman’: gravedigger   There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers and grave-­makers. They hold up Adam’s profession. 2 man   Was he a gentleman? gravedigger   ‘A was the first that ever bore arms,

(5.1.29–33) and Pyrrhus’s ‘heraldry more dismal’ reveals him in bloody arms ‘head to foot. / Now is he total gules, horridly tricked / With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons’ (2.2.394–6). Thus the play links even the idea of heraldry – truly the ‘dismal’ science in this play – with death. The defeat of Old Fortinbras and seizure of his lands was accomplished ‘by a sealed compact / Well ratified by law and heraldry’ (1.1.85–6), though not accepted as such by young Fortinbras. Structurally defined by death, genealogical succession becomes a self-­consuming process of mutability on every level in the play: even the boy actors in the city, when the ‘little eyases’ grow up and become ‘common [i.e. adult] players’, Hamlet tells Rosencrantz, ‘their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own succession’ (Appendix 1, 3, 12–15).9 Rosencrantz will later wonder why Hamlet can be so unhappy, and claim to ‘lack advancement’: ‘How can that be, when you have the voice of the King himself for your succession in Denmark?’ (3.2.332–4). The assumption that patrilineal succession is a good thing, that it is the ‘natural’ mode of life and time, may seem reasonable, but the play insistently links this concept with death. Laertes complains that his dead father received no ‘hatchment [the display of the family coat of arms] o’er his

Succession and Diachronic Time


bones’ (4.5.206), and even the poisoned ‘union’ or pearl that Claudius will throw into the cup of wine is ‘Richer than that which four successive kings / In Denmark’s crown have worn’ (5.2.250–1). The exaltation of the pearl’s alleged worth, however, also reminds us that in order for Claudius to be king, four successive kings first had to die, in sequence, along with all those who came before them, all the way back to Adam. Patrilineal succession is premised on the death of the father: it follows as surely ‘as the night the day’ (1.3.78) (as Polonius naturalizes his advice to Laertes). The play gives Hamlet more and more glimpses of this process, until he turns the nausea of this vision back on Claudius in a burst of insubordinate prose after he has killed Polonius: ‘Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes but to one table. That’s the end’ (4.3.23–4). The universal process embodies a linear self-­consumption: hamlet  

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm. king   What dost thou mean by this? hamlet   Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar. (4.3.26–30) The royal ‘progress’, normally a sign of power and plenitude, collapses into the entrails and low diction of ‘guts’. Hamlet’s sequence here deploys the rhetorical device of ‘declension’, which becomes a habitual trope in the play. Claudius first uses it in 1.2, and Polonius names it as he explains Hamlet’s supposed madness to Claudius, reporting that Hamlet ‘Fell into a sadness, then into a fast, / Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness, / Thence to lightness, and by this declension / Into the madness wherein now he raves’ (2.2.144–7). ‘Declension’ here means not only the grammatical formula (‘The action of declining, i.e. setting forth in order the different cases of, a noun, adjective, or pronoun’, OED II.n.4.c) of his exposition of madness, but also, as the OED has it, ‘the


Temporality, Genre and Experience

process or state of declining, or sinking into a lower or inferior condition; gradual diminution, deterioration, or decay; falling off, decline’ (OED I.n.3.a). Puttenham analyses an equivalent, more conventional form in his Arte of English Poesie: after first describing the ‘Avancer or figure of encrease’ by which ‘we go still mounting by degrees and encreasing our speech with wordes or with sentences of more waight one then another’, Puttenham turns to its opposite, ‘the abbaser working by wordes and sentences of extenuation or diminution. Whereupon we call him the Disabler or figure of Extenuation’.10 The logic of declension is thus one of abasement and disabling, decline and fall. Succession and declension, in many ways, turn out to be the same thing in the play. Yet another of Polonius’s ‘declensions’ – ‘Why day is day, night night, and time is time, / Were nothing but to waste night, day and time’ (2.2.88–9) – seems more than a joke, given Hamlet’s sense of how the gradient marks of succession blur together, the individual points constituting an apparent line leading straight to the grave, unless, ‘like a crab, you could go backward’ in time (2.2.200–1). But going backward isn’t possible in diachronic time; hence ‘an old man is twice a child’ (2.2.322) only in a figurative sense. When Claudius tells Hamlet that his wish to return to Wittenberg is ‘most retrograde to our desire’ (1.2.114), Shakespeare’s word ‘retrograde’ is both a figurative term (‘Opposed, contrary, or contradictory’ [OED A.adj.5]) and a technical term of astronomy, referring to a celestial object that ‘Temporarily appear[s] to move across the sky in the reverse direction to that which is usual for it’ (OED A.adj.1.a): the universe’s clock running backwards. The ‘dismal’ reality of diachronic time is that it can only go forward. Gertrude’s attempt to help her melancholic son – ‘Do not for ever . . . / Seek for thy noble father in the dust’ (1.2.70–1) – rings ironically through the play, from Hamlet’s vision of ‘this quintessence of dust’ (2.2.274) to the ‘pit of clay’ (5.1.91), the ‘fine dirt’ (5.1.101), ‘Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay’ (5.1.202) and ‘the noble dust of Alexander . . . stopping

Succession and Diachronic Time


a bung-­hole’ (5.1.193–4). In the graveyard, Hamlet again employs the Polonian rhetoric of declension, in yet another exposition of the tragedy of succession: ‘Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?’ (5.1.198–201). The concept of ‘succession’, then, works on multiple levels in the play: structural, chronological, familial, psychological and dynastic. As many scholars have noted, Hamlet refracts the contemporary context of royal succession in several ways, including both the English and the Scottish crowns.11 In the years of Hamlet’s likely composition and first performances (perhaps as early as 1600–1), Elizabeth was so visibly aged as to seem in imminent danger of death, and James VI was impatiently biding his time in Scotland, his supporters urgently polishing his not entirely convincing claims of inheritance.12 Shakespeare’s play obviously mystifies just what principle or theory governs succession in the Denmark of the play.13 It is an elective monarchy of some kind, with Claudius’s succession (or perhaps just his marriage to Gertrude) evidently requiring the approval of a court council (‘Nor have we herein barred / Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone / With this affair along’ [1.2.14–16]). Not even Hamlet protests Claudius’s mounting to the throne (just mounting his mother) in the first acts of the play. Later, though, Shakespeare allows Hamlet to bring the issue forward explicitly, sometimes speaking as if he should have inherited the throne by lineal right, especially in the closet scene, where he describes Claudius as ‘a cutpurse of the empire and the rule, / That from a shelf the precious diadem stole / And put it in his pocket’ (3.4.97–9), and again later when he justifies to Horatio his anger against Claudius: ‘He that hath killed my King and whored my mother, / Popped in between th’election and my hopes, / Thrown out his angle for my proper life / And with such cozenage’ (5.2.63–6). The audience has not heard anything of Hamlet’s ‘hopes’ for the throne, though such hopes inevitably seem ‘natural’. Yet in order for such ‘hopes’ to


Temporality, Genre and Experience

be fulfilled, Hamlet’s father would still have had to die. And Hamlet seems to recognize how this system of succession works at the end of the play, for only when he himself is already dead – he reports his own death three times in the final scene (‘I am dead, Horatio . . . Horatio, I am dead . . . I die, Horatio’) – will he be able to offer his ‘dying voice’ on behalf of Fortinbras (just as Claudius had offered Hamlet his ‘voice’): ‘I do prophesy th’election lights / On Fortinbras’ (5.2.339–40). Under tradi­ tional primogeniture, young Hamlet would have become king after his father’s death, or indeed after Claudius’s death, but he was never ‘put on’ the throne, as Fortinbras notes (5.2.381). Yet he seems to have come to some kind of peace with succession itself at this moment. Hamlet’s acceptance of his diachronic fate, of his declension into the dark backward and abysm of time, is profound and moving. The play’s multiple references to ‘doomsday’ invoke the endpoint of diachronic time, just as references to the ‘serpent’ in the garden (1.5.39), to ‘Adam’s profession’ (5.1.31), to ‘our Saviour’s birth’ (1.1.158) and to ‘Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder’ (5.1.73) indicate its beginnings. The play’s multiple sequences of diachronic dynasties, empires, families and individuals all end, through declension, in warfare, death, doomsday. Hamlet and Laertes’s clash at Ophelia’s grave invokes empire, ascent, and declension through the familiar term of ‘dust’: laertes

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead Till of this flat a mountain you have made T’o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head Of blue Olympus. . . . hamlet

And if thou prate of mountains let them throw Millions of acres on us till our ground, Singeing his pate against the burning zone, Make Ossa like a wart. (5.1.240–3, 269–72)

Succession and Diachronic Time


Invoking Pelion and Ossa, this graveside argument draws in yet another narrative of sons and their fathers crushing them, ending in ‘slaughter and in doing wrong’.14 The play’s own careful chronicity, explored by many scholars, has several dimensions, the most important of which is the thirty-­year frame of the play’s action, and the fateful revelation of (non-)coincidence in the date of Hamlet’s birth, the date of the duel between Old Fortinbras and Old Hamlet, and the date that the gravedigger began his profession (as revealed in 5.1).15 The thirty-­year period echoes the length of marriage of the Player Queen and Player King in the play-­ within.16 Symbolically the length of human growth into adulthood, thirty years, also marks Hamlet’s death. It turns out that Hamlet was correct: ‘Then is doomsday near’. Along with these other chronological positionings, it appears that Shakespeare has placed the play’s action at a specific moment in British history – after the death of Priam and the Trojan diaspora – as it transitions into English history, signalled by the allusion to the ‘gentleman of Normandy . . . a Norman’ (4.7.81, 90), fittingly named ‘Lamord’ (90), or ‘death’.17 Noting the play’s multiple references to England, de Grazia articulates the precision of the play’s moment: Shakespeare set the play sometime after Denmark’s invasion of England in 1017, the beginning of the Third Rule, just after the Danish King Canute’s defeat of the English . . . Conquered by Denmark, Britain retained its tributary status until conquered again in 1066 by the Normans.18 De Grazia rightly connects the play’s moment to ‘the most famous imperial falls of ancient history’, but I would emphasize here that the Norman invasion is the play’s second genealogical ground zero. Shakespeare’s allusion to the ‘Norman’ thus also signals the violent interruption of one sequence of monarchical history, and the establishment of a new dynasty conspicuously (and with more than a whiff of illegality) founded on a


Temporality, Genre and Experience

principle of succession utterly different from that of lineal succession: conquest.19 What can the play offer to mitigate its insistent representation of succession as declension? Ordinary clock time in the play is not only ‘out of joint’, but its categories and divisions are blurred and unreliable: the round-­the-clock war preparation ‘does not divide the Sunday from the week’ (1.1.75); one’s ‘secure hour’ (1.5.61) is anything but secure; ‘twice two months’ seems merely ‘two hours’ (3.2.120–1). If only ‘looking before and after’ (4.4.36) were possible, if only (as Hamlet advises his mother in the closet scene) one could ‘Repent what’s past, avoid what is to come’ (3.4.148), though in truth Hamlet should avoid what’s past and repent what’s to come. The dream (to borrow from the Messenger telling of Laertes’s advancing rabble of supporters) is being able to act ‘as the world were now but to begin, / Antiquity forgot, custom not known’ (4.5.103–4). But such a forgetting, and a dream of beginning anew, is impossible. And Laertes’ supporters are crying out for a Norman-­style succession by conquest and forced election: ‘They cry “Choose we: Laertes shall be king!” . . . “Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!” ’ (4.5.106, 108). In the final act, Hamlet confronts the end of diachronic time, the play’s chronological frame closing on him like a mousetrap. Laertes tells him ‘in thee there is not half an hour’s life’ (5.2.300), and shortly after Hamlet admits ‘had I but time (as this fell sergeant Death / Is strict in his arrest) – O, I could tell you –’ (5.2.320–1). But of course he can’t tell us, since he’s already ‘dead’. Such knowledge can only come from ‘something after death’, as Hamlet meditates in his great soliloquy, yet such knowledge is fraught, dangerous, unreliable. ‘Who would bear the whips and scorns of time’ (3.1.69) if there were any other choice? The play grants Hamlet only a few glimpses of another kind of time, one that seems simply a single point on the diachronic continuum, but which also might offer a moment of synchronic difference. The Player King offers one hint: ‘Purpose . . . Which now like fruit unripe sticks on the tree, / But fall unshaken

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when they mellow be’ (2.2.182–5). The play shows that not only purpose, but also time cannot be forced: ‘Most necessary ’tis that we forget / To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt’ (3.2.186–7). Hamlet’s sporadic invocations of a time of action – ‘ ’Tis now the very witching time of night . . . Now could I drink hot blood’ (3.2.378, 380); ‘from this time forth / My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth’ (4.4.64–5) – have led nowhere. These ideas of time are delusions. Hamlet has to think, instead, of the ‘unripe’ and of potential ripeness: he tells Horatio, ‘the interim’s mine’ (Appendix 1, 6). An interim is another kind of time: ‘An intervening time, interval of time; the meantime’ (OED B.n.1). Not no time, as Brutus well understands – ‘Between the acting of a dreadful thing / And the first motion, all the interim is / Like a phantasma or a hideous dream’ (JC 2.1.63–5) – but some other time. Hamlet’s final ‘declension’ ends in acceptance rather than anguish: If it be {now}, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all, since no man of aught he leaves knows what is’t to leave betimes. Let be. (5.2.198–202) ‘It’ rings six times here, and while ‘it’ certainly means ‘death’, ‘it’ implies as well a refusal to name what ‘will come’ at the end of time. Indeed, Hamlet tells Horatio that ‘we defy augury’, the same Horatio who at the beginning of the play had demanded the Ghost to speak its knowledge of the future, ‘Which happily foreknowing [we] may avoid’ (1.1.133). The project of ‘foreknowing’ has been revealed to be both hopeless and obvious. Hamlet finds direction instead in such indirections as ‘interim’ and ‘betimes’ (‘in good time, in due time; while there is yet time, before it is too late’ as well as ‘at an early time, period, or season’, OED adv.3, 1). Better to ‘let be’ the ‘interim’, the slight possibility of ‘betimes’, than simply be subject to the relentless declension of succession.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Shakespearean tragedy and the death of fathers Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth are very different plays, yet they share three characteristics in treating succession. Each represents an elective (or obscurely determined) rather than hereditary monarchy; each stages a foreign invasion resulting from a thwarted succession; and each play’s central figure muses on his defeat by time. Each protagonist seeks, in futility, to ‘unburdened crawl toward death’ (KL 1.1.40). In Hamlet, the mode of succession in the Danish monarchy, as we have seen, is unclear at the beginning of the play; we learn only gradually that it is an elective monarchy. Hamlet struggles with Claudius to become his father’s successor at the same time that he strives to secure his own identity as his father’s son and namesake. His eventual achievement is signalled both by heroic rhetoric (’This is I, / Hamlet the Dane’ [5.1.246–7]), in which he appropriates and fulfils his father’s legacy, and also, ironically, by his own death. King Lear lacks a son to inherit his throne, and the division of the kingdom among the three daughters leads to familial and national catastrophes which are wholly predictable yet unavoidable. As Lear ‘crawl[s] toward death’, his failed succession strategy reverberates after his death, as Albany, Kent and Edgar attempt fruitlessly to identify a successor and clarify the grounds of succession. In Macbeth, Shakespeare returns to elective succession, notably departing from his sources to invoke archaic Gaelic tanistry, wherein the worthiest thane is elected as king.20 The play represents three Scottish kings (Duncan, Macbeth, Malcolm) and one English monarch (Edward the Confessor), each of whom achieves the throne in a different way, and embodies a different concept of monarchical power. Kingship in Macbeth is by turns elected or inherited, unnatural or holy, legitimate or tyrannical. The focus on kingship culminates in the vision of the ‘show of eight kings’ (4.1.110sd), a genealogical line that is supposed to stretch forward to King James himself, the alleged

Succession and Diachronic Time


descendant of Banquo; but, like most aspects of genealogical display in the early modern period, this ‘show’ conspicuously erases the female, James’s mother Mary Queen of Scots, from the line of succession, as if only a man ‘not of woman born’ could inherit.21 Shakespeare’s tragedies represent the significant structural divisions of history as produced by generational change. The historical narrative therefore becomes implicitly linear, determined by dynastic rather than annalistic or other concepts of time. Moreover, history and time are secularized by locating time as a product of biological reproduction; hence the usual tropes of ‘growth’, ‘descent’, ‘blood’ and so on are naturalized.22 Macbeth is horrified when he says, of the ‘show of kings’: ‘what, will the line stretch out to th’crack of doom?’ (4.1.116), but while the genealogical ‘line’ he sees exists in the play’s present, it notably actually represents an imagined past. This shows the structure of time in early modern genealogies as hierarchical, patriarchal and diachronic. Hamlet, Lear and Macbeth are all ultimately shown as subject to time as a line: with imagined origins, no gaps and a teleological ‘conclusion’. The death of fathers is by turns foundational, as with Priam, or a tragic prelude to death. Only the ‘interim’ is available.

11 Passionate Time in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam Lara Dodds

Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) concludes with a meditation on time. Offering a final comment on the remarkable events of the previous acts, the Chorus wonders at the variety and rapidity of events that have occurred in the twelve hours of fictional time experienced by readers or spectators: Whoever hath beheld with steadfast eye The strange events of this one only day – How many were deceived, how many die That once today did grounds of safety lay –   It will from them all certainty bereave,   Since twice six hours so many can deceive. (5.Ch.1–6)1 Cary aligns the play’s audience with the errors of judgement that plague the play’s characters. In spite of a ‘steadfast eye’,


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the ‘strange events of this one only day’ undermine readers’ ‘certainty’. The Chorus continues to summarize the plot of the play in order to highlight the radical transformation enacted by the ‘twice six hours’ of fictional time, which, through the clever interdependence of the play’s three plots, has resulted in reversals for all of the major characters. Whatever the uncertainties of the play’s moral or political meanings – and critical commentary suggests that these are many – this final Chorus insists upon a formal or generic certainty, inherent in the constraints of the neo-Senecan closet drama, that arises from a retrospective recognition that the play’s improbable or ‘strange’ events are simultaneously inevitable, ‘certainly ordained’ (5.Ch.31). I begin with the final Chorus because I believe it provides us with a new route into some of the recurrent critical controversies posed by The Tragedy of Mariam. The last three decades have seen a remarkable flowering of criticism situating this play within debates about gender, race, marriage and divorce, religion and politics.2 Adapted from Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews, the play depicts an episode from the life of Herod the Great (74–4 BCE). Although the play culminates in Herod’s murder of his wife Mariam, Cary’s focus is on his female relatives; her sensitive exploration of the consequences of a wife’s public speech is one of the period’s most nuanced depictions of women’s agency. While scholars have recently questioned what it means to label this work and others like it ‘closet drama’, Cary’s generic choice has been recognized as significant.3 The Tragedy of Mariam participates in the tradition of neo-Senecan closet drama inspired by Mary Sidney’s translation of Robert Garnier’s Antonius (1590). Plays in this tradition were based on historical sources and shared formal characteristics, including long speeches and restricted onstage action, the presence of a Chorus, and unity of place, time and action.4 Combining neo-­stoic philosophy with Senecan plots, they offered a ‘pessimistic vision of the exemplarity of Rome’ and ‘cautionary tales about the English polity’. Meanwhile, their formal emphasis on protagonists’

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


stoic adjustment to their fates made plays in this tradition ‘ideal for exploring the personal pathos associated with tyranny and abjection’.5 In this chapter, I show how The Tragedy of Mariam interrogates the relationship between time and tragedy that is expressed so confidently by the Chorus. In Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger’s Privilege, Gordon Braden offers an influential account of Seneca’s dual legacy in Renaissance drama. For Braden, the emotional control and apparent abdication of power of stoic philosophy and the furor of Seneca’s tragedies are two sides of the same coin. As Braden explains, ‘Imperial aggression and Stoic retreat are both informed by a drive to keep the self’s boundaries under its own control’, and stoicism, therefore, is the ‘inner form of imperialism, an extrapolation of classical selfhood into a new phase of completeness’.6 The numerous early modern plays about Herod’s murder of Mariam manifest this dynamic.7 Including Shakespeare’s Othello in this group, Braden suggests that the story’s popularity can be attributed to the attractions of sexual jealousy as subject of tragedy, which ‘is capable of commanding significant respect even as it betrays its possessor into acts of hideous injustice’.8 From this perspective, Herod’s jealous tyranny is the story’s primary interest because it allows the protagonist to display both sides of the Senecan dialectic. Braden describes the plots of Herod and Mariam plays as moving ‘naturally towards Herod’s final confrontation with his own unjustifiability; individual treatments can be compared in what happens next, the degree to which the murderer recoups his authority’.9 Braden does not consider Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam, and this omission is significant. I demonstrate that Mariam offers a different way to think about Senecan tragedy, one that centrally considers tragic kinds of time. As its title suggests, Cary’s play challenges Braden’s model by subordinating Herod’s tragedy to Mariam’s. Without neglecting the traditional interest in Herod’s tyranny, Cary’s play gives equal attention to Mariam’s psychological adjustments, first to news of her husband’s death and later to his return. This balance


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between the two protagonists reorients the play’s relationship to the Senecan tradition. Layering the tragedy with different versions of key events, the characters repeatedly construct narrative counterfactuals in which they contemplate alternate pasts, presents and futures. For Mariam, Salome and Herod, narrative counterfactuals are linked to passionate counterfactuals – the temporary inhabitation of alternate passionate states – and this repeated conjunction of passionate and narrative speculation produces three different versions of the intersection between time and tragedy. Mariam and Herod illustrate the tragic potential of temporal durations that are, respectively, too short and too long. With Salome, however, Cary explores a temporality of ‘not yet’: offering a conjunction of passion and politics at odds with the emotional scripts of early modern culture, the villainous Salome provides a perspective on time and tragedy that may only be legible out of time.

Narrative counterfactuals and dramatic form Although the closing Chorus insists that the play’s events were ‘certainly ordained / To be the warning to posterity’ (5.Ch.31–2), the experience of reading the play suggests, by contrast, that almost every event depicted could have been otherwise. The Tragedy of Mariam is defined by its powerful conjuring of what I call narrative counterfactuals. As many readers note, Cary’s most distinctive formal choice was her decision to place Herod’s return from (supposed) death at the mid-­point of the play. This delay gives characters the opportunity to imagine, and in some cases act upon, alternate realities.10 The symmetrical structure of the play – Herod is absent in the first half and Mariam in the second – creates a contrast between the carnivalesque expansion of liberty that follows Herod’s presumed death and the tyranny that resumes upon his return.11 Herod’s absence creates a political vacuum in which many are

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


freed to pursue their desires: Pheroras marries for love rather than political advantage, Salome plans to divorce her husband, Doris returns from exile, Baba’s sons are released from their long captivity and Mariam is freed to examine the consequences of her marriage for her conscience. One consequence of this construction is the play’s persistent dramatic irony. The first half of the play exists within a narrative counterfactual in which the news of Herod’s death causes the characters to inhabit a dramatic present that readers know to be false. This construction also highlights the temporal dimension of the drama. Matthew Wagner defines the ‘thick time’ of theatre as the ‘temporal dissonance’ that comes from the ‘layering of past, present, and future as one experience’.12 Mariam intensifies this effect through the formal conventions of neoclassical closet drama. Frequent references to specific temporal durations layer the past and the future over the single day that is the play’s present: Salome’s divorce of her husband is unique in 1,400 years of Jewish history (1.6.75); Doris has been absent from Jerusalem for nine years (2.3.5); Baba’s sons have been in hiding for twelve years (2.2.5); Herod will regret Mariam’s death in three days (5.1.77). The frequent indication of the passage of time insists upon the links between the time of tragedy and what David Scott Kastan describes as the ‘uninterruptible process of history itself’.13 Herod’s counterfactual death allows for the imaginative inhabitation of alternate pasts and futures, and most of Mariam’s characters engage in the construction of further counterfactuals. Characters contemplate what could have been and what might still be. Michelle M. Dowd identifies these speculative moments as ‘unscenes’, a theatrical technique by which characters offer ‘vivid accounts of offstage events, people, and places’.14 Dowd shows how unscenes take advantage of the stage’s spatial resources, but my focus is on their temporal dimension. Herod’s purported death provides occasion for characters to propose alternate pasts and futures. For instance, Alexandra rewrites world history on the basis of Mariam’s beauty: had Marc Antony seen her picture, ‘He


Temporality, Genre and Experience

would have loved thee, and thee alone / And left the brown Egyptian clean forsaken’ (1.2.110–11). Similarly, Salome predicts a new future for all women: ‘I’ll be the custom-­breaker and begin / To show my sex the way to freedom’s door’ (1.4.49–50). In these examples, the explicit examination of the meaning of past and future in the context of Herod’s death works to realize a dramatic present in which Herod’s life is the counterfactual. So Pheroras complains that ‘Had Herod lived, he would have plucked my hand / From fair Graphina’s palm perforce, and . . . / . . . I had had a baby to my bride’ (2.1.13– 14, 16). The first half of the play thus produces narrative and temporal possibilities that will be suspended when it is revealed that Herod still lives, and, further, retrospectively redefined as themselves narrative counterfactuals. The proliferation of moments of what if ‘thickens’ the drama in order to show the contingency of even the most overdetermined of events. These complex temporal effects are demonstrated most fully in Act Two, Scene Two. In this scene, Baba’s sons, who have been protected by Constabarus for twelve years, consider whether it is safe to return to public life given the report of Herod’s death. Constabarus laments the time that has been lost and worries that ‘Your best of life, the prime of all your years, / Your time of action, is from you bereft’ (2.2.37–8). Since fear of Herod’s tyranny has stolen the sons’ youth, Constabarus imagines for them an alternate past. He tells them they can leave the ‘living tomb’, ‘Where Herod’s life hath kept you overlong’ and insists that ‘You had purchased fame / Some years ago, but that you were confined / While thousand meaner did advance their name’ (2.2.31–6). In describing the future enabled by Herod’s death, Constabarus creates a counterfactual past in which the sons of Baba fulfilled their birthright through heroic and virtuous action. This alternate past enjoins Baba’s sons to a dramatic present and future in which they seek and gain glory. But contingency cannot be limited. Counterfactuals produce further counterfactuals. While Constabarus creates an alternate past to remind the sons that ‘if you use it [i.e. time] well, enough is left’ (2.2.40), Baba’s second son worries about

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


an alternate present in which the report of Herod’s death ‘will prove a very tale indeed’ (2.2.62). Intensifying and reflecting upon the dramatic irony of the play’s first half, Baba’s son produces a further narrative counterfactual, a detailed recounting of a hypothetical chain of events that could produce an erroneous report of Herod’s death (2.2.87–106). Constabarus marvels that the sons can ‘doubt undoubted truth’ (2.2.70), though readers know that Baba’s son’s speculation is not merely possibility, but truth. The competing counterfactuals in this scene serve as a pivot for the dramatic action and demonstrate how the dramatic present of the play is thickened with alternate temporalities: pasts not fulfilled, futures not pursued and presents that are not what they appear. After Herod’s return, characters continue to generate narrative counterfactuals; however, these have a different purpose. Rather than allowing for the expression of anxiety about an alternative present and future that are indeed true, in the second half of the play, narrative counterfactuals express nostalgia for the alternative presents and futures that are no longer possible.

Tragic passions in time: narrative and passionate counterfactuals Gordon Braden suggests: ‘Senecan plays take their start and even their sense of reality not from the unchangeable truth of past history but from the turmoil of affective experience, where history is taken up and remade’.15 Cary’s tragedy shares and intensifies this link between the passions and the contingency of history. The narrative counterfactuals of the play are produced in and through what I call passionate counterfactuals. Each of the primary characters – Mariam, Herod and Salome – wrestles with the problem of the passions in time. What accounts for the transformation from one passionate state to another? How is it possible for the passions to divide us from our past and future


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selves? Mariam’s tour-­de-force opening soliloquy is structured by a series of temporal markers emphasizing the difference between her present and past selves: ‘How oft have I with public voice run on’ (1.1.1) she asks; ‘But now I do recant’ (1.1.5) she asserts. ‘Oft have I wished that I from him were free’, ‘But now his death to memory doth call / The tender love that he to Mariam bare, / And mine to him’ (1.1.16, 31–3; my emphasis throughout). Mariam’s dilemma is accounting for the influence of external factors on what she had presumed to be a settled and constant affective state. As William Hamlin has demonstrated, Cary draws from Montaigne’s essay ‘How we cry and laugh for the same thing’ to explore this problem.16 Like Mariam, Montaigne’s essay questions how Caesar could order Pompey’s death and also weep over his body. Isn’t this hypocrisy? Montaigne concludes that it is not strange for a single object to evoke opposing passions, because the objects of the passion may not be good or evil in themselves. Instead, given time and changing circumstances, ‘our soul looks on the thing with a different eye, and represents it to itself in another aspect, for each thing has many angles and many lights’.17 Mariam once railed at Caesar for the inconstancy of his passions, but Herod’s death now reveals the same inconstancy in her feelings for her husband. Recognizing the potential for passionate change allows Mariam to revise her previous opinions and, further, suggests the political significance of the passions. The passions prove central to the play’s larger exploration of time and tragedy. Mariam’s divided passions are intensified by her divided identity as Herod’s widow and the granddaughter and sister of two of his victims. In early modern thought, the passions are functional insofar as they move the body and soul toward good and away from harm.18 As Mariam’s husband and an enemy of her family, Herod is potentially the source of both harm and good. Consequently, Mariam’s soliloquy juxtaposes hatred, which leads to joy in an enemy’s death, and love, which prompts a widow’s dutiful grief. Mariam’s movement between love and hatred, joy and grief, demonstrates a temporal layering similar to that which structures the play as

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


a whole. Her soliloquy links this passionate counterfactual – in which Mariam’s justified hatred is replaced by love – with the narrative counterfactual of the first half of the play: Herod’s death. Mariam’s belief in Herod’s death allows her temporarily to inhabit an alternate passionate state within the play’s exploration of an alternate temporal state. Indeed, Mariam’s returning love for Herod requires a further layering of temporalities: ‘Why, now methinks the love I bare him then, / When virgin freedom left me unrestrained, / Doth to my heart begin to creep again’ (1.1.71–3). Mariam’s love for dead Herod in the present is defined in terms of a past social identity. Her new status as a widow returns Mariam to the passions of her ‘virgin freedom’. Paradoxically, the husband’s absence, whether as a future possibility or a past reality, frees Mariam to love. Mariam’s passions remain in flux only so long as the narrative counterfactual of Herod’s death remains operative. When Mariam learns that Herod is alive, her passions settle into hatred. When I his death believed, compassion wrought And was the stickler ‘twixt my heart and him; But now the curtain’s drawn from off my thought, Hate doth appear again with visage grim, And paints the face of Herod in my heart In horrid colours with detested look. (3.3.37–42) Here Mariam settles upon hate, and she does not waver from this position for the remainder of the play, although she acknowledges that she could perform love – ‘enchain him with a smile’ (3.3.45) – in order to save her life. By controlling her passions in this way, Mariam takes on characteristics of the stoic hero. As Marta Straznicky argues, the play ‘stages the reorientation of female desire from earthly to spiritual goods and fashions this reorientation as the prerequisite for female heroism’.19 Mariam accepts the fact of her death as the


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precondition of her own selfhood, declaring that her enemies can destroy ‘but’ her life while ‘My soul is free from adversaries’ power’ (4.8.45–6). Mariam here displays the mixture of resignation and self-­assertion that Braden identifies as the defining feature of stoic selfhood. The report of Mariam’s final words displays the ‘psychic aggression’ typical of stoic heroes.20 She predicts Herod’s regret and eventual madness: ‘By three days hence, if wishes could revive, / I know himself would make me oft alive’ (5.1.77–8). While Herod’s authority over the material world – the bodies of his subjects – is absolute, Mariam defines the psychological reality of the play’s final act. Herod’s return to Jerusalem at the beginning of Act Four collapses the narrative counterfactuals built out of the characters’ belief in his death. As we have already seen, the negating of narrative counterfactuals confirms Mariam’s hatred. The same events, however, throw Herod into the passionate turmoil that his wife has escaped. When he is confronted by evidence – fabricated by Salome – that Mariam has been unfaithful, Herod, like Mariam in the first half of the play, oscillates between love and hatred: Oh, now the grief returns into my heart And pulls me piecemeal. Love and hate do fight, And now hath love acquired the greater part. Yet now hath hate affection conquered quite, And therefore bear her hence. (4.4.85–9) As with Mariam, Herod’s examination of his passions is temporally marked. But unlike Mariam’s, Herod’s passions remain firmly in the present. Whereas Mariam’s soliloquy creates a layered temporality, which allows for contemplation of the space between past and present, the repetition of ‘now’ in Herod’s speech creates the impression of an ever-­changing present uninformed by reflection upon the past or judgement about the future. Herod’s perception of time parodically intensifies the temporal compression conventional in

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


neoclassical closet drama. Anticipating reunion with Mariam, Herod explains that his wife disrupts the ordinary progression of time: But when I am with Mariam time runs on. Her sight can make months minutes, days of weeks; An hour is then no sooner come than gone When in her face mine eye for wonders seeks. (4.1.17–20) Herod’s experience of time echoes Mariam’s effect on his passions. In both of these passages, encountering Mariam elides time as duration for Herod, stripping the present of its connection to past and future. Like Mariam’s, Herod’s experience of passionate counterfactuals produces narrative counterfactuals. But while Mariam eventually recognizes that hatred forecloses her narrative in death, Herod’s uncontrolled passions result in increasingly impossible narrative alternatives. In a darkly comic conversation with Salome, Herod wants to kill Mariam, but retain the option of reversing time, ‘to call her back from death’ (4.7.55). Salome proposes one method of murder after another – beheading, drowning, fire – and Herod initially rejects each. When he orders the execution, he tells Salome to ‘let my love be slain’ and orders her to be prepared to ‘find the means to make her breathe again’ when, inevitably, he regrets Mariam’s death (4.7.29, 31). This desire to rewrite the past and future, even after Mariam’s death, desperately repeats the narrative counterfactuals of the play’s first half. Upon hearing the report of Mariam’s death, Herod asks: ‘is there no trick to make her breathe again?’ (5.1.89). Cannot an ‘inventive head and willing heart’ (5.1.93) supplant the end with a different story? This obsessive insistence on the (im)possibility of Mariam’s return from death unsettles the presumption that the temporality of tragedy can be found in the finitude of death.21 Mariam’s death is finite, but its consequences are not. Herod’s regret begins not in the three days that she predicted, but in


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Three hours, three minutes, not so much A minute in a thousand parts divide! My penitency for her death is such As in the first I wished she had not died. (5.1.79–82) Instantaneously trapped in a narrative counterfactual of infinite duration, Herod’s tragedy is an excess of time that prevents him from regaining any self-­mastery.

Tragic passions out of time; or, women’s untimely hatred The remarkable symmetries of The Tragedy of Mariam offer Mariam and Herod as the two sides of neo-Senecan tragedy, fulfilling the dialectic of ‘autonomy and determinism’ that characterizes plays in this tradition.22 Salome, the villain and the only character who escapes the reversals characteristic of tragic plots, threads the needle between Mariam’s fatal constancy and Herod’s equally fatal inconstancy. Rejecting the link between passionate and narrative counterfactuals, Salome enjoys greater control of her circumstances than either Herod, who has physical but not mental control, or Mariam, who controls her mind but not her body, can ever achieve. Salome poses a problem for readers and critics of the play.23 She makes radical and outrageous statements, threatens the social order and successfully manipulates those around her. Although responsible for the deaths of Mariam and two husbands, she escapes the punishment that dramatic convention predicts. The critical consensus is that the play must repudiate Salome and her arguments; it seems that critics must repudiate her also. She is a ‘female grotesque’, ‘immoral’ and ‘dark and morally tarnished’, and her arguments are ‘part of the disease from which the kingdom suffers’.24 Clearly she is a foil for Mariam; as Danielle Clarke suggests, her ideas about divorce,

Passionate Time in The Tragedy of Mariam


tainted with desire and sexuality, set up an ‘instructive contrast whereby Mariam’s resistance to her husband can take place upon different, and more obviously sanctioned, territory’.25 The problem that Salome poses, as Clarke’s comments implicitly acknowledge, is that, foil or not, Salome and Mariam are also similar. Each resists her husband’s authority and each is constructed within the ambiguous frame of feminine beauty. While Mariam’s superior beauty is repeatedly presented as a racialized sign of her moral and political superiority, it remains, like Salome’s, always subject to suspicion.26 When Herod is dissatisfied with his wife, he describes her as ‘foul pitch contained in the fairest rind’ (4.4.31). Likewise, Constabarus excoriates Salome as a ‘painted sepulchre / That is both fair and vilely foul at once’ (2.4.41–2). Feminine beauty signifies goodness only so long as it is transparently discoverable by men; women’s actions, whether speech, unchaste behaviour or cosmetic enhancement, always threaten to negate the protections that beauty offers.27 As Mariam learns, Death ‘can pale as well / A cheek of roses as a cheek less bright’ (4.8.5–6). Salome’s soliloquy in Act One, Scene Four provides a counterpoint to Mariam’s soliloquy in the first scene of the play; again, Herod’s purported death prompts an extended analysis of the relationship between past and present affective states. But whereas Herod’s death leads Mariam to resurrect past emotional states in the present, Salome does not allow Herod’s death to disturb her passions, ‘though he were my brother’ (1.4.5). Herod’s death does, however, serve as an occasion for Salome to reflect on the past, and she does so through an extended narrative counterfactual: Why stand I now On honourable points? ’Tis long ago Since shame was written on my tainted brow, And certain ’tis that shame is honour’s foe. Had I upon my reputation stood, Had I affected an unspotted life, Josephus’ veins had still been stuffed with blood,


Temporality, Genre and Experience

And I to him had lived a sober wife. Then I had never cast an eye of love On Constabarus’ now-­detested face; Then I had kept my thoughts without remove And blushed at motion of the least disgrace. But shame is gone, and honour wiped away, And impudency on my forehead sits. (1.4.21–34) Salome combines a narrative counterfactual – what would have happened had she remained married to her first husband? – with a passionate counterfactual: what if she had allowed shame to bound her behaviour? Had she valued reputation and honour, Salome might still be a ‘sober wife’ to Josephus, who would be alive, nor would she have fallen in love with Constabarus or Silleus, or developed hatred for Josephus and Constabarus in turn. Salome, however, does not seriously consider the possibility of this alternate narrative, and, despite a superficial similarity to Mariam and Herod’s oscillation between love and hate, Salome’s consideration of shame’s temporality functions differently. Like the other passions, shame had positive and negative consequences; although it arises from a fault, it usefully prevents an individual from doing wrong. As an acknowledgement of error, shame indicates submission to the social order. Salome’s shamelessness, by contrast, is a rejection of the role of the passions in disciplining and controlling behaviour. A personified impudency therefore prompts Salome to action, bidding her to ‘work my will without delay’ (1.4.35). Here and throughout the play, Salome can choose a course of action in response to ever-­changing circumstances rather than in relation to past passions. Hatred – the passion contested most strongly in The Tragedy of Mariam – thereafter becomes central to Salome’s choices and actions. Hatred underlies her decision, contrary to the laws of her nation, to seek a divorce from her second husband, Constabarus. In fact, despite the contrast between Salome’s active hatred and Mariam’s principled silence, hatred is another

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shared trait. Noting that ‘earnest hate’ serves as justification for a man to divorce his wife, Salome questions whether women’s hatred can have the same effect: Why should such privilege to man be given? Or given to them, why barred from women then? Are men than we in greater grace with heaven? Or cannot women hate as well as men? (1.4.45–7) Within the gendered context created by the play, the first three questions are absurd: of course men have more privileges than women, precisely because they have an innate superiority derived from ‘heaven’. Men can put away their wives out of ‘earnest hate’, but women cannot likewise divorce their husbands because of the asymmetrical obligations created by the institution of marriage. The last question, however, disrupts these expectations. Of course women can hate as well as men. In fact, women’s hatred is a given in this play: Salome, Mariam, Doris and Alexandra are all defined by hatred.28 Indeed, Mariam’s stoic heroism is fuelled by hatred, by her decision to reject her previous love for Herod and refuse reconciliation. Salome’s final rhetorical question recasts the previous questions by creating a link between hatred and the potential for women’s political and spiritual equality. Salome’s hatred of her husband is delegitimizing, but it allows her to reconfigure the relations between gender, the passions and power. By rejecting the social power of shame and claiming for herself the political power of hatred, Salome avoids the two sides of Senecan tragedy illustrated by Herod and Mariam. She illustrates the critical productivity of what Sianne Ngai calls ‘ugly feelings’, those ‘unusually knotted or condensed’ signs that ‘conjoin’ the different registers of a problem – the formal, ideological or sociohistorical – in a distinct way.29 Salome’s hatred reconfigures the narrative and affective possibilities of neo-Senecan drama. In Sara Ahmed’s words she is an ‘affect alien’, denying the legitimacy of her culture’s dominant affective scripts in order to explore impossible alternatives.30


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I offer this analysis not to recuperate Salome, nor to repudiate her for that matter, but rather to consider how her presence in the play provides an additional perspective on the problems of temporality and tragedy with which I began. The Chorus concludes by announcing that ‘This day alone our sagest Hebrews shall / In after times the school of wisdom call’ (5.Ch.35–6). What is the nature of that wisdom? Does the play warn against disobedience, challenge tyranny, celebrate stoic virtue? Previous studies of the relationship between time and tragedy suggest two different ways to approach these questions. In Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time, David Scott Kastan explores the relationship between time and genre. Romance, history and tragedy, he suggests, each reveal a distinct ‘conception of time and man’s role within it’. In tragedy, time is finite: it ‘inexorably moves at a fixed speed and in a single direction’. Defined by death, which is the expected outcome of tragedy, the shape of time in tragedy is in the ‘temporality of the individual life rather than in the continuous flow of historical time.31 By contrast, Emily Wilson suggests that some tragedies are defined not by death, but by too much life. In tragedies of overliving, neither death nor time’s finitude, but rather the ‘failure to die’ is tragic: ‘time goes on but without the possibility of change’. In a tragedy of overliving, time does not have a ‘shape’. Instead, such plays ‘express the fear that time may always be the enemy of humanity. Time is resisted or goes wrong, lives end too soon or too late, the temporal order of human generations is confused by incest or familial murder, and time brings only staleness or repetition or death’.32 The Tragedy of Mariam embeds a tragedy of finitude within a tragedy of overliving and a tragedy of overliving within a tragedy of finitude. This conjunction speaks to an essential ambiguity of tragedy, both as a literary form and as a broader cultural concept: does tragedy speak of those lost or those who remain behind? The focus on Mariam and Herod in The Tragedy of Mariam insists upon both, while the presence of Salome registers outside of or across time in order to call into being different configurations of passion, action and tragedy.

12 Future Histories in King Lear Meredith Beales

When priests are more in word than matter, When brewers mar their malt with water, When nobles are their tailors’ tutors, No heretics burned but wenches’ suitors; When every case in law is right No squire in debt, nor no poor knight; When slanders do not live in tongues, Nor cut-­purses come not to throngs, When usurers tell their gold i’th field, And bawds and whores do churches build, Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion: Then comes the time, who lives to see’t That going shall be used with feet. This prophecy shall Merlin make, for I live before his time. (KL 3.2.81–95)1 Alone on the stage in act three of Shakespeare’s King Lear, the Fool reveals his vision of Britain’s future.2 The medieval Fool’s


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prophecy casts future British society as both familiar and strange: it is populated by the squires, heretics, usurers and bawds of Shakespeare’s London, but is also a country where nobles serve their servants and bawds build churches. The early modern Britain the Fool foresees – a world populated with the citizens of early modern London – is a funhouse distortion of British society rather than a mirror image of it. The unreality of the Fool’s prognostication marks King Lear’s vision of the future as fantasy. The future can only be imagined as a society ‘come to great confusion’, where pickpockets avoid crowds and all law-­cases are right – in short, a civilization so unlikely that it cannot exist. Instead of a stable, urban community – one populated by tailors and brewers – the early modern Britain forecast in King Lear is a distorted polity, a fool’s dream. Throughout Lear, characters gesture towards a future that never quite comes into focus. The possibility for futurity is present, as the characters anticipate future generations of Lear’s family and future conflicts within that family, but these are never actualized. The result is a portrait of a future that recedes, awkwardly, into the distance: even as the Fool describes post-Lear Britain, Shakespeare presents a reimagined history in which that future (the early modern present, or sometimes the medieval past), could not have existed, had events unfolded as he portrays them. At the same time, these predictions serve to suggest, repeatedly, that a future should be possible. Shakespeare’s Lear mentions, anticipates, even names the future – yet this future, as a result of the deaths of Lear’s daughters, will not come to be. The play teases with visions of the future while playing out the ancient tragedy which forestalls its appearance. King Lear frustrates attempts to locate it firmly in time, as the play seems to be set in a British antiquity that vibrates with modern and medieval resonances. Instead of chronicle history, Shakespeare substitutes theatrical intensity, collapsing the tragic history of several generations of ancient British kings into one. References to familiar historical figures who would anchor continuity between the play’s present and

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the audience’s, such as the Saxon king Edgar, are misleading, because the future of Lear’s kingdom, and the dynastic links necessary to lead to early modern Stuart England, are forestalled by the events of Shakespeare’s tragedy. In King Lear, the anticipated future can never quite come to pass.

Absent futures The impossibility of the future depicted by the Fool reflects the status of the future of Lear’s kingdom in Shakespeare’s play: since the play ends with the destruction of the ruling family, Britain has no future. The Fool’s glimpse of futurity is destabilized by Shakespeare’s main historiographic alteration, the implosion of the British dynasty. The Tudor and Stuart monarchs traced their ancestry back to the ancient legendary kings of Britain, a line which includes Lear.3 By ending the dynasty prematurely, Shakespeare’s play breaks that ancestral link, and thus early modern Britain’s genetic and dynastic links to its ancient past. Shakespeare takes the story of Lear from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth-­century History of the Kings of Britain, in which Geoffrey records Lear as one of Britain’s preArthurian kings. In Geoffrey’s history, the original ruling British dynasty, founded by Brutus, ends with a war between Ferrex and Porrex, the two sons of Gorboduc, between whom Gorboduc had divided his kingdom. (These events were dramatized in the 1561 Inns of Court play Gorboduc, by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton.) Shakespeare transfers the dynastic defeat dramatized in Gorboduc back several generations to the Lear story, but, like Sackville and Norton, Shakespeare explicitly describes the end of Britain as a function of both family discord and dynastic failure.4 Whereas Geoffrey and Gorboduc cast the deaths of Ferrex and Porrex as the end of a family and transfer of power to a different ruling dynasty, Shakespeare’s play forecloses the future of the kingdom of Britain by killing off Cordelia, Goneril and Regan, none of


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whom lives long enough to leave descendants. This is unique to Shakespeare: in 500 years’ worth of chronicle accounts of Lear’s reign, including chronicles from the twelfth-­century Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, through the poetically rendered history of Britain in Edmund Spenser’s Book II of The Faerie Queene (1590), to Raphael Holinshed’s late sixteenth-­century chronicle (1577, 1587): all report Goneril and Regan leaving sons.5 In all the chronicle versions, Lear dies reconciled with Cordelia and restored to the throne. After Lear’s death, Cordelia inherits, only to lose the throne to her nephews. In Shakespeare, Lear neither reclaims the throne nor reunifies Britain; the Brutan dynasty cannot be revived in Shakespeare’s play because those nephews are never born. Shakespeare’s revisions to the chronicle account collapse several generations’ worth of dynastic breakdown into one. Shakespeare’s historiographical innovation, the effacement of dynastic continuity, has received little scholarly attention.6 Instead, from Samuel Johnson forward, most critics of Lear who are interested in the play’s variation from its sources focus on the end of the drama, the alteration from a ‘happy’ ending for Lear himself to the tragic ending that Shakespeare creates.7 As this critical tradition points out, in making Lear a tragedy, Shakespeare deviates from the only sixteenth-­century dramatization of the Lear story, which was performed by the Queen’s Men more than a decade before his own play.8 The Queen’s Men play, known as The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, has much in common with romances that end with the marriage of the main character; indeed, in Leir, the play ends when King Leir’s youngest daughter, here named Cordella, marries the King of Gaul after restoring her father to the throne. The Leir play ends happily, but this uncomplicatedly happy ending is also a simplification of the much longer and more fraught narrative in the chronicles. When Shakespeare’s play is read in light of its relationship to chronicle sources, it becomes clear that the narrative of Leir stops at the most conveniently happy or restorative part of the

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story, as King Leir is left alive onstage at the end of the play. These two staged versions, Shakespeare’s Lear and the Queen’s Men’s Leir, provide contrasting endings, one tragic and one romantic; the Queen’s Men play, in a reflection of the chronicles, leaves the king’s two eldest daughters (here named Gonorill and Ragan) and their husbands alive at the end of the play. A keen reader of the chronicles would be aware that the offspring of these two characters would parent the next generation of the dynasty. In the chronicles, Lear’s reign and its aftermath illustrate a much more drawn-­out dynastic breakdown. In Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Ireland, and Scotland, a source frequently used by Shakespeare, the restoration of Lear to the throne is followed by an account of his youngest daughter’s reign, here named ‘Cordeilla’, following its more protracted unravelling. Holinshed describes Cordeilla’s reign as the first reign of a queen in Britain, a ‘gunarchie’ – that is, a polity ruled by a woman – which is interrupted after five years by her nephews’ rebellion: Cordeilla the yoongest daughter of Leir was admitted Q. and supreme governesse of Britaine, in the yeere of 315 . . . This Cordeilla after her fathers deceasse ruled the land right worthilie after the space of five yeeres, in which mean time hir husband died, and then about the end of five yeeres, her two nephewes Margan and Cunedag, sonnes to hir aforesaid sisters, disdaining to be under the government of a woman, levied warre against hir, and destroied a great part of the land, and finallie took hir prisoner, and laid her fast in a ward, wherewith she tooke with such griefe, being a woman of a manlie courage, and despairing to recover libertie, there she slue hirselfe, when she had reigned (as before is mentioned) the term of five yeeres.9 Shakespeare’s revision elides even the possibility of the peaceful, united, though vulnerable Britain that Holinshed describes as lasting for five years after Lear’s death. Shakespeare takes the fragility that Holinshed ascribes to Cordeilla’s reign and


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heightens it, projecting it back into the reign of her father. By condensing the wars among Cordelia, her father and her sisters, and the war between a regnant Cordeilla and her nephews into a single, concentrated conflict, Shakespeare is able to replace the political tragedy of dynastic breakdown with the domestic tragedy of a father’s fight with his adult daughters. The multi-­generational struggle over the kingdom from the chronicle sources is distilled into venomous interfamilial attacks in Lear. Shakespeare’s elision of the civil war between Cordelia and her nephews is transformed onstage into a curse on Goneril: Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear: Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend To make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility, Dry up her organs of increase, And from her derogate body never spring A babe to honour her. (1.4.267–73) By cursing Goneril, Lear condemns himself to a world without grandchildren or direct heirs. Nor does Lear not suggest an alternative ‘honourable’ inheritance. Instead, Shakespeare signals Lear’s self-­aware transformation of the story in the next few lines, which describe the child that his play occludes: If she must teem, Create her child of spleen, that it may live And be a thwart disnatured torment to her. Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth, With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks, Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits To laughter and contempt, that she may feel How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child. (1.4.273–81)

Future Histories in King Lear


The child described in Lear’s curse torments its mother the same way that a civil war torments its country. It inverts and removes the possibility of generation, rendering all labour purposeless, fruitless. The hypothetical child evoked by Lear’s curse parallels the chronicles’ Margan or Cunedag, the children of Goneril and Regan. In the chronicles, these grandsons tear Britain apart with their civil war; in the Shakespearean play, the wicked child gleefully destroys the mother who bore it. Lear is, of course, cursing Goneril with the same fate he finds himself experiencing at that moment – the ‘thankless child’ – but since he is a king, Lear’s curse, which calls for either no grandchildren from Goneril or a grandchild who will ‘torment’ its elders – is also a curse on his kingdom: any of Goneril’s children could, in theory, be future kings themselves. In other words, by cursing his daughter with barrenness, Lear is, by implication, wishing a succession crisis upon his kingdom. By the end of the play the curse comes true, as Goneril dies without issue and Lear without grandchildren. By cutting off the dynastic future of Lear’s line, Shakespeare ruptures the line of kings that leads from Lear to James; the dynastic tragedy is made more intimate, even acute, in the curse that Lear casts upon his daughter. Shakespeare’s tendency in this play is to transform possible future political crises – in this case, succession – into the immediacy and intimacy of conflicts between Lear and his three daughters. This impulse to make conflict intimate surprises even the members of Lear’s court, who anticipate similar kinds of discord to that which populate the chronicle accounts. Lear’s court fears battles among male heirs over land rather than the rivalry among family members which unfolds in Shakespeare’s play. The chronicles’ history of Lear ends in civil war, and specifically in civil war among men, as Margan and Cunedag fight one another once they have deposed Cordeilla as queen. Shakespeare’s play registers the expectation of civil war through the courtiers’ apprehension of conflict between Lear’s sons-­in-law, the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall. In the opening line of the play, Gloucester notes the beginnings of discord within the royal family, musing that ‘I thought the King had


Temporality, Genre and Experience

more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall’ (1.1.1). This anticipation is exacerbated in the short, gossipy scene between Edmund and Curan at the start of Act Two: Curan

Have you heard of no likely wars toward twixt the two dukes of Cornwall and Albany? Edmund

Not a word. Curan

You may do then in time. (2.1.11–14) Curan insists, as Gloucester does before him, that discord between the dukes is likely, if not predetermined. Curan here follows the logic of the chronicles, which presumes that the civil war, when it occurs, will be driven by the male members of the royal family (in this case, the putative fathers of Holinshed’s Margan and Cunedag), and anticipates the conflict unfolding in the future. But these apprehensions never come to fruition. At no point in this play do Cornwall and Albany fight each other; in fact, strife between Goneril and Regan does not emerge until after Cornwall’s death. Instead, the potential for civil war has, once again, been pre-­empted by interfamilial strife. It is the dukes’ wives, not the dukes themselves, who become enemies. But while these reports anticipate outright battle, the play offers instead the competition between Goneril and Regan that occurs in Acts Four and Five. Battles, in this play, take place between individuals rather than armies. Instead of broad military conflict between Goneril and Regan’s children, the daughters combat one another directly. The erotic and military competitions between Goneril and Regan suppress the anticipated conflict between the dukes; in Shakespeare’s play, they fight over Edmund, not land or Lear’s favour. In Goneril’s words, ‘I had rather lose the battle than that sister / Should loosen him and me’ (5.1.18–19).

Future Histories in King Lear


Shakespeare’s Lear personalizes the stories it takes from medieval chronicles, with individuals standing in for collectives. This play reduces the battle over the country to a personal, familial competition: the sisters’ conflict over Edmund is just as deadly as Margan’s and Cunedag’s war in the chronicle histories, but the stakes are not nearly so high. In the end, the sisters kill each other. Shakespeare’s alteration transforms the battle over land to a competition between traitors over a traitor.

Alternate futures Shakespeare’s Lear offers teasing glimpses of the history (or, from Lear’s perspective, the future) that should lead to Shakespeare’s England. By Shakespeare’s time, the island of Britain had long been divided into the same three nations (England, Scotland and Wales) that it still comprises today. Shakespeare’s Lear is set in the ancient, pre-Arthurian world of Britain’s legendary past, when, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the entire island was united under a single ruler.10 In these legends, Britain breaks down into its modern kingdoms after the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons who found England. The names of the characters in the Gloucester-Edgar-Edmund subplot, one of Shakespeare’s additions to the Queen’s Men play,11 foreshadow Anglo-Saxon England, which postdates the ancient British world of King Lear by several centuries. Edgar’s Saxon name has long been recognized as an anomaly in a play that is supposed to be taking place long before the AngloSaxons arrived in Britain.12 The historical King Edgar was a tenth-­century Saxon king, sometimes called ‘Edgar the Peaceful’, who was most known for consolidating the English realm after the death of his brother, Eadwig, ruler of Wessex. F. T. Flahiff argues that Edgar was a well-­known exemplar of an ancient king who unified Britain in the early modern period, quoting Thomas Heywood’s description of the Saxon Edgar as ‘the first that could truely write himselfe an absolute Monarch


Temporality, Genre and Experience

of this Island’.13 Edgar, in this reading, is a type of Arthur: as the tenth-­century king who unifies the warring Saxon tribes, the historical Edgar represents an ancient tradition of idealizing unified Britain as the only means to avoid civil war – a historical-­political tradition subtending James Stuart’s adoption of the title of ‘King of Britain’ upon his accession in 1603. But Shakespeare’s Edgar is not the Anglo-Saxon Edgar. Unlike his historical prototype, he does not successfully combine kingdoms by his own active merit. Instead, Shakespeare’s Edgar is left to inherit the throne (at least in the Folio edition) by default, when the royal British dynasty, of whom Lear’s children are (in this play) the final heirs, destroys itself.14 Shakespeare’s Edgar survives almost by accident. Instead of a British heir, the play leaves the audience with two possible rulers onstage: the Duke of Albany, or Edgar.15 Albany, like Edgar, recalls a modern British nation: ‘Albany’ is a legendary ancient name for Scotland. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Brutus’s kingdom is divided among his three sons upon his death. Albanactus, the second son, inherits the northern part of the island, Scotland. At the end of Shakespeare’s play, the options for rule are either the putatively English or Scottish noblemen; henceforth, the line will be Gloucesterian (English) or ‘Albanian’ (Scottish).16 In either case, Lear, ruler of a unified Britain, is replaced at the end of the play by two possible rulers whose names correspond to two of the smaller nations that succeeded Britain, Edgar (England) and Albany (Scotland). By using the Anglo-Saxon name ‘Edgar’ for one of the figures left at the end of the play who could assume rule, Shakespeare sketches a hypothetical continuity between the Anglo-Saxon past and Lear’s future, but removes his opportunities to gain the English crown through conventional means (inheritance, military success). When British society collapses in Lear, the (English) future cannot unfold in an orderly fashion. Instead, it is thrust upon the young protoEnglishman, Edgar, whose primary qualification for kingship is that, at the end of the play, he is one of the few characters left alive.

Future Histories in King Lear


Elusive futures In the passage quoted at the start of this chapter, the Fool seems to see a future in Lear. In his references both to legendary antiquity (‘Albion’) and to seventeenth-­century occupations such as tailoring and the law, the Fool evokes a deep past and connects it with the present of Shakespeare’s audience. Yet the dramatic effect of this temporal overlay is to alienate the past from the present. The denouement of the play has been understood to replace history with something like apocalypse: an ‘image of that horror’ (5.3.262) that anticipates ‘only endtime’ without the comforting interlude of history.17 The Fool’s prophecy, by contrast, adopts a different approach to the destruction of historical continuity. He makes a mockery of the continuity of the present with an imaginatively potent antiquity. Indeed, his strategy is even more destructive than merely emphasizing the present’s rupture with the past, since the frame-­breaking he effects tells us that even the horrific grandeur of the story we are watching is enduringly alien. Alone on stage, the Fool uses his only soliloquy to impress upon the audience its temporal distance from the theatrical action; however affecting that action is, we are not part of it. He leaves us disconnected from the past, in a vapid present, drinking watery beer – while reminding us that this present, however banal, is long-­divided from ‘that horror’. The Fool’s prophecy illustrates a world made up of priests, brewers, nobles, tailors, heretics, cut-­purses, knights, squires, lawyers, usurers, bawds and whores – in short, a range of people who come together in seventeenth-­century England, in a society that the Fool describes as being under carnival misrule. Yet the Fool does not call this society ‘England’ or even ‘Britain’. Instead, he titles his vision ‘the realm of Albion’ (3.3.91). The Fool’s use of the oldest, pre-Roman name for Britain casts an ancient shadow on his litany of (mostly) seventeenth-­ century occupations.18 Not content with combining images of two historically distinct Britains, the Fool ends his speech by adding a third epoch when he invokes Merlin, the legendary


Temporality, Genre and Experience

fifth-­century prophet and magician. By finishing his speech with a reminder that the Fool long predates Merlin, himself a focal point of ancient legends, the Fool widens the chasm between the antiquity and the world of the audience, insisting we notice the void only occasionally and temporarily over-­ leapt by the theatre. Even the brief glimpses of the future offered by the Fool are misdirections. The Fool’s uncertain present turns out to be another track backwards into the ancient literary past. His prophecy has a venerable allusive history, dating back to the thirteenth century, and recycled as common wisdom in a variety of genres from that time forward.19 The Fool’s description of a future full of confusion would have been well-­ known to Shakespearean audiences; it is proverbial rather than prophetic. The Fool’s putative future does not so much reveal early modern England (however populated by cut-­ purses and usurers it might be), but instead glances back to a proverb from the dawn of English letters. The apparent glance forward, first to Merlin (understood as inhabiting the fifth century, in the Fool’s future) and then to urban early modern England, is instead a feint backwards, a return, once more, to the problem of uncovering origins. Even a description of something as apparently solid or contemporary as early modern England, that is, turns out to be another literary fiction. The Fool’s use of traditional proverb forms reveals yet another ruse, an appeal to the future that instead takes us back towards the past from which the Fool has already shown us we are indubitably estranged. However distorted his image of the future is, the Fool is one of the few characters who is capable of imagining one. In a play as cynical about the future as King Lear, that is not a mark of longevity. At the end of the play, the Fool himself falls prey to the same premature death that afflicts so many of the British characters in Lear: ‘my poor fool is hanged’ (5.3.304), Lear mourns, after entering with Cordelia’s dead body in his arms. It is unclear exactly to whom Lear is referring – Cordelia, certainly, has just been hanged, but Lear’s Fool has also

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vanished, appearing no more after the end of Act Three. Lear’s grief over the ‘fool’ who was hanged is ambiguous, possibly referring to both characters. The Fool’s prophecy offers one of the few portraits of the future in this play, however twisted or convoluted. Interestingly, in the theatre, the roles of the Fool and Cordelia can be doubled, as the Fool and Cordelia are never on stage at the same time.20 If the Fool, who can see something resembling an English future, is hanged, either in the person of Cordelia or in his own person, then a parallel connection to the future is lost, murdered with the hanging of one or both fools. This play is relentless in its premature destruction of characters who can envision a future for Britain, no matter how illusory or deceptively convoluted that image of the future may turn out to be.

Retreat from the future Shakespeare ironizes the entire concept of a future for Britain by foreshortening Lear’s dynasty. He hollows out the possibility of idealizing that lost British future by deflating any chronicle-­ generated grandeur in the deaths of Cordelia and Lear.21 The play’s nods to later times, including Saxon England and Merlin’s Arthurian era, are paradoxical, as the play kills off the characters who would need to survive to provide dynastic continuity for Arthur and his fellow ancient kings. While Lear looks backwards to the ancient pre-­history of Britain and forwards to Jacobean occupations, the play’s layering of additional historical material onto its two primary historical times – Lear’s era and Shakespeare’s seventeenth-­century present – adds additional dimensions to the play’s temporal situation. The settings collide and destabilize each other. The jarring effect created by these quicksilver shifts between ancient and modern suggest that Lear is set in a playworld that never quite settles into a single time, and place; the play works by confounding expectations of the most likely future, whether that future is dynastic, military or located in Saxon times.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

Rather than offering history, the play instead depicts something that resembles history in its broadest outlines only, before retreating from the suggestion that this history should provide any kind of foundation for the future of Britain. In the moments before Lear’s death, the play reaches a climax of emotional and theatrical intimacy, as the audience witness Lear’s howls of grief and then his short-­lived hope that Cordelia may still be alive. This extreme intimacy forces a confrontation with the immediacy of Lear’s grief, an uncomfortable proximity to a story set in a past so distant that there are few records of it. This theatrically-generated proximity to antiquity is not lost on Edgar and Albany, the two characters left alive. At the end of Shakespeare’s Lear, the final speech dissociates those who remain standing on the stage from the action of the play: The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most; we that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long. (5.3.322–5) The two closing lines break the temporal intimacy of the start of the speech, which situates the speaker under ‘The weight of this sad time’ (5.3.322; my emphasis). The demonstrative adjective ‘this’ embraces the setting of the play and the time of the audience, collapsing theatrical setting into contemporary time. Three lines later, the speaker has changed his historical allegiance. The speaker’s ‘shall never see so much’ opens a chasm between the events of the play and those who remain onstage. ‘Never’ sounds a harsh rejection of Lear’s world, a dissociation that rejects the supposedly dead bodies still lying on the stage – Lear’s and Cordelia’s corpses – while anticipating the moment that the actors playing Lear and Cordelia will stand up and dance a jig. That shift, from ‘this time’ to the future state, when ‘we / Shall never see so much’, alters the story from present to past, or rather, from live theatrical

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performance to history. The last two lines of the play situate the play’s action in the past, re-­opening the gap between past and present bridged by the live performance. Whether those lines are spoken by Edgar (in the Folio) or Albany (in the quartos), the play ends with either a character with an English name or a character with a Scottish title describing the British history just performed as past, ‘never’ to be repeated. With the end of the live performance also comes the end of something that resembled living Britain. In mere moments, the action of King Lear is transformed from a live performance, in which the Britons are central, to a distant and elusive history of ancient Britain told by an English or Scottish man. Lear’s future, its possibilities stunted, retreats instead into the distant and elusive history of long-­ago.



13 From Last Judgement to Leviathan: The Semiotics of Collective Temporality in Early Modern England Robin S. Stewart

‘Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons’ (3.2.303–4), declares Rosalind in As You Like It, before offering a series of humorous illustrations on the mercurial nature of time.1 Observing that time ‘trots hard with a young maid, between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnized’ (3.2.308–9), but gallops ‘with a thief to the gallows’, because ‘though he go as softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there’ (3.2.321–4), Rosalind articulates, in jest, a principle of temporality that twentieth-­century phenomenologists like Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty would make an earnest


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part of their philosophical investigations: the subjective experience of time. Shakespeare’s corpus yields many vividly rendered instances of this internal perception, where time seems to fluctuate according to the desires and intentions of each individual consciousness. Sonnet 30 offers an affecting meditation on how grief blurs the boundaries between past and present, wherein the speaker ‘summon[s] up remembrance’ of ‘precious friends hid in death’s dateless night’ to ‘weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe’. Similarly, King Richard II, after being deposed and imprisoned, delivers a tortured soliloquy on how regret makes him more keenly aware of time’s inexorable march. ‘I wasted time’, he ruefully laments, ‘and now time doth waste me’ (5.5.49). But Richard II also reminds us of the interpersonal dimensions – both social and political – that equally characterize Shakespeare’s fascination with temporality. When Richard complains that ‘time [hath] made me his numb’ring clock’ (5.5.50), he memorably describes how his internal experience, indeed his stream of consciousness, has been forcibly translated into mechanistic repetition and outward regularity, figured in the regular tempo of a clock face. ‘My thoughts are minutes’, he proclaims, ‘and with sighs they jar / Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch, / Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point, / Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears’ (5.5.51–4). Significantly, this translation arises from his loss of sovereign power, for as king, he was able to indulge his subjective experience of time, compelling an entire kingdom to keep whatever pace he willed. Now that he is under the power of the new king, Henry IV, he feels for the first time what it is like to be shaped by the will of another, to be utterly beholden to an externally imposed temporal regimen. Shakespeare returned again and again to this temporal prerogative couched in the exercise of sovereign power, particularly in the history plays. In Richard III, the Duke of Buckingham experiences it almost immediately after helping the usurping Richard take the throne. As the Duke begs the new king for the lands that had been promised as reward

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


for his service, Richard III puts him off by asking, ‘what’s o’clock?’ (4.2.107). ‘Upon the stroke of ten’, replies the bemused Buckingham, prompting Richard to sneer, ‘Well, let it strike . . . Because that like a jack thou keep’st the stroke / Betwixt thy begging and my meditation’ (4.2.111–15). Richard implies that Buckingham’s appeal is like a figure on a Swiss clock striking the hour, a representation of objective time attempting to compel the new king’s attention. But Richard makes it clear that he will not be compelled – that, as king, he will be the one to dictate the appropriate tempo for his subjects to follow. ‘I am not in the giving vein today’, he asserts coldly (5.5.116). In addition to sovereign authority, religious doctrine serves as a powerful external force shaping the temporal experience of Shakespeare’s characters. Among the many habits of mind inherited from medieval Catholicism that continued to inform the temporal perspective of Shakespeare’s age, none was more insistent than Christian eschatology (from the Greek, eschatos, meaning ‘last’) – the branch of theology that contemplates the ultimate end of the world and God’s divine plan for it. Beginning with St Augustine’s seminal interpretation in The City of God (AD 426), Catholic eschatology placed particular emphasis on the mythic idea of Last Judgement, or Doomsday – when Christ would return to judge all of mankind as either saved or damned – as the critical event that would determine the fate of one’s soul, and thus reveal the ultimate meaning of one’s actions in the world. Richard III nicely illustrates the power of this eschatological view to shape individual subjectivity in its first act, where Richard plots the murder of his brother Clarence in order to clear his own path to the throne. As the two assassins he has hired discuss how to perform the deed, the first murderer rejects killing Clarence in his sleep, because ‘he’ll say t’was done cowardly, when he wakes’, a foolish remark that prompts the second murderer to retort derisively, ‘why, he shall never wake until the great Judgement Day’ (1.4.101–2). Though a glib piece of dark comedy on the surface, the invocation of Judgement Day,


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which the second murderer mostly uses as a dead metaphor for ‘forever’, unexpectedly casts the imminent crime in an eschatological light, pricking the second murderer’s conscience in a way that gives the dead metaphor life again. ‘The urging of that word, “Judgement”’, he sheepishly confesses, ‘hath bred a kind of remorse in me . . . Not to kill him – having a warrant – but to be damned for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me’ (1.4.108–11). In this moment, the second murderer finds himself caught between two forms of authority – one worldly, one divine – and forced into a contemplation of the two scales of temporality by which they are defined: one finite, one eternal. Moreover, he is caught between two distinct yet overlapping forms of collective membership: is he first an English subject (protected by a ‘warrant’) or a Christian soul (from ‘which no warrant can defend me’)? This dilemma reflects the transitional character of the early modern era itself, a period marked by the historical forces of secularization that were as yet incomplete. Indeed, most historical narratives of Western culture routinely consider the weakening of eschatology as one of the defining features of the epochal shift from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. According to this account, the medieval mind viewed worldly affairs sub specie aeternitatis (‘from the perspective of eternity’), which condensed all things together into a uniform and static moral universe: what some scholastics referred to as the nunc stans, the everlasting now.2 By contrast, the modern mind dwells in the dialectic between innovation and obsolescence, among the mistakes of the past, the struggle for the present and the open possibilities of the future. Here a multiplicity of temporalities – the quotidian rhythm of the individual and family, the political cycles of election, war and scandal, and the business cycles of investment and profit – all compete for dominance. As historian David Gross has argued, in this competition among layered temporalities, the nation-­ state serves as the principle agent and repository for the longue durée of intergenerational continuity, having ‘usurped or greatly weakened the traditional and religious modes of

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


interpreting time’ such that it eventually becomes the ‘chief institution of the modern era determining our “representations” of the past’.3 And, we might add, the ultimate possibilities of the future. How did we get from one temporal paradigm to another? By what means did the state supplant religion’s role in defining collective temporality during the early modern period? These questions entail complex strands of early modern theology, politics and history that defy easy summary, but we can nevertheless discern the most salient features of this transition by attending to the changing iconography of the period, particularly with regard to the imagery that early modern men and women relied on to visualize the temporalities that defined their collective identities and the concomitant authorities placed over them. From the visual logic of Last Judgement iconography in Renaissance paintings to the 1651 frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan, the semiotics of collective temporality in early modern England offers an illuminating glimpse into the historical and cultural forces that transformed Christian eschatology into the secular politics of modernity, which Shakespeare’s plays so richly explore.

The fearful symmetry of the Last Judgement Around the ninth century, the Last Judgement, or Doomsday, began to dominate the iconography of medieval Christendom. Most often appearing on church chancel arches that served as an architectural dividing line between areas permitted to the laity and the clergy, Doomsday paintings offered a visual logic of collective temporality, an imagined shared destiny that would eventually inaugurate every human soul into God’s eternal time.4 Hans Memling’s stunning wood-­paneled triptych, The Last Judgment, offers a powerful illustration of the genre’s visual vocabulary (Figure 13.1).5


Temporality, Genre and Experience

FIGURE 13.1  Hans Memling, The Last Judgment (c. 1460–9) Pomorskie Museum, Gdansk (© 2017, Photo Scala, Florence)

Depicting the moment of universal resurrection and judgement referenced in the Book of Daniel, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Book of Revelation, The Last Judgment depicts the culmination of worldly history: the eschaton, or end of days. Here, every individual life becomes fixed into its eternal form. At the centre sits Christ in majesty, enthroned on a rainbow (a symbol hearkening back to God’s destruction of the earth by flood) and resting his feet upon the golden orb that signifies his authority over all the world. With his right hand Christ confirms; with his left he condemns, separating the worthy from the damned. Combining both the highest form of mercy and the bitterest form of vengeance, Christ is flanked by a lily, a symbol of peace and mercy, and a sword, betokening wrath and annihilation. Below stands the Archangel Michael with his scales, providing the basis for Christ’s decision. Emanating from this central space of judgement, the painting’s swirling centrifugal force propels the viewers’ eyes to its outer edges, where the rewards of eternity await beyond

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


the representational space. To the left, the saved are clothed and ascend a crystal staircase to Paradise; to the right, vividly rendered demons cast anguished sinners into the flames. Memling even renders the lines of Michael’s scales, and the limbs of the recently resurrected, to draw the eyes first to the scenes of infernal torment on the right, where our gaze becomes trapped in its downward momentum. The viewer must exert a conscious effort to overcome the natural lines of the composition to arrive at the heavenly reward. This intense and irrevocable dualism of Last Judgement iconography reveals the deep connection between models of temporality and definitions of collective membership, wherein visualizing the culmination of time becomes a way to generate the most universal and permanent fellowship imaginable. The Last Judgement’s pull upon the imagination of the believer provided the foundation for the Church’s mediation between God and his people, and celebrated its authority as keeper of the mysteries that lead an individual soul to the right side of Christ’s judgement. However, this role as mediator is only valid as long as the dies irae, the day of wrath, is distant and deferred. Only if Christ does not yet occupy that central judgement seat can the Church stand before it as custodian, and its custodial effectiveness depends largely upon how vividly the individual can imagine the irresistible power that will one day rain down from the seat of authority.6 This is the nunc stans of mortal existence – not perhaps the everlasting moment, but the moment when the individual (whether in a state of grace or sin) becomes part of an everlasting collective. That finality, captured by Memling’s simple yet fearful symmetry, elicits passive subjection, for after Christ’s decision, individual agency and the process of human becoming are equally obliterated. But even the minimal narrative time needed to parse Memling’s picture creates fissures of ambiguity and uncertainty that trouble predetermination and eternal stasis. In the background, just to the left of St Michael, an angel and demon fight over a soul, as if its ultimate fate still lay in the balance, contingent upon some dramatic combination of effort and


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circumstance. This narrative paradox signals a deeper ontological riddle at the heart of eschatological thinking: by what logic does the temporary determine the eternal? What is the relationship between being and becoming? When we look at the landscape, the architecture or the clothing depicted in Memling’s painting, nothing orients its events in a particular time or place. This renders the scene timeless, open to any viewer from any era. But the paradox of Last Judgement that our narrative-­driven brains cannot keep from pondering is that surely some specific historical era – some century, some decade, even some particular time of day – will end up being the one where Christ returns. From this natural need to imagine a bridge between history and eternity, another potent feature of western apocalypticism emerged: the Antichrist.

Antichrist and Reformation iconography Drawn from the numerous warnings against ‘false messiahs’ in the Gospels as well as the imagery of the Book of Revelation, the Antichrist – an evil Manichean counterpart to the true Christ – was a controversial and much debated figure in early Christianity. Although condemned by orthodox authorities during the Middle Ages, Antichrist became a perennial feature of medieval popular piety and visual culture. A pre-­eminent example of Antichrist iconography appears in the magnificent apocalyptic frescos begun by Fra Angelico in the mid-­fifteenth century and finished by Luca Signorelli between 1499 and 1504 (Figure 13.2). Incorporating various strains of the myth that had accrued over centuries, Signorelli’s fresco depicts the Antichrist preaching in the foreground, his false miracles in the centre background, his rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem in the right background and his destruction by God in the upper left.7 Crucially, figures populating the fresco are Signorelli’s

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


FIGURE 13.2  Luca Signorelli, Preaching and Deeds of the Antichrist (c. 1499–1504). Duomo, Orvieto (© 2017, Photo Scala, Florence, courtesy of Opera del Duomo of Orvieto)

contemporaries, with the Antichrist’s followers dressed in the brightly coloured tights and codpieces of northern Italy c. 1600, and Signorelli and Fra Angelico themselves appearing clothed in black at the extreme left foreground.8 These details highlight the Antichrist’s status as the gateway through which the divine significance of the Last Judgement enters into a specific historical moment. Through the Antichrist, the ‘airy nothing’ of eschatological expectation acquires a ‘local habitation’, and things eternal become contemporary.9 Because the fresco lacks the clean yet fearful symmetry of Memling’s doomsday, we might call Signorelli’s vision the Penultimate Judgement – not the last things, but the things just before the last things. Anterior to the universalizing, eternalizing moment of the eschaton, Signorelli’s Antichrist is still dealing with the


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messy business of becoming, of engaging with worldly power and local history. Nevertheless, these worldly details and personalities are beginning to fill with spiritual portent, to be illuminated from within and elevated to the plane of providential significance. This fusing of the worldly and the supernatural is epitomized in the fresco’s rendering of the Antichrist as two intertwined figures. The Christ-­like figure, his hand gesturing to his chest reminiscent of Catholic sacred-­heart iconography and his head tilted in a seeming beatific calm, is presumably the only one diegetically observable by the gathered multitude. But as Signorelli’s viewers, we also see a demonic figure whispering into the false prophet’s ear and directing his actions, with the two bodies locked in an intimate embrace that simultaneously evokes the image of a puppet master controlling his puppet and a sodomizer with a catamite (Figure 13.3).

FIGURE 13.3  Detail from Luca Signorelli, Preaching and Deeds of the Antichrist.

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


The Antichrist’s ability to raise historical events and personalities to divine or demonic status made it a central weapon in the Protestant attack on the papacy. Key in defining an alternate collective identity for the Reformers, the Antichrist became the centre of a new Reformist temporal narrative, as in the Protestant propaganda text Passional Christi und Antichristi (‘The Passion of Christ and Antichrist’). Printed in 1521 under the auspices of Martin Luther, the Passional is a series of thirteen paired woodcuts by Lucas Cranach the Elder, with accompanying commentary by Philip Melanchthon.10 Essentially an early political cartoon, the Passional is one of the first popular Protestant pamphlets to identify the papacy with the Antichrist, employing a visual strategy of chiasmic antithesis. In one pair of images, Christ is crowned with thorns, while the pope dons his triple crown in luxury; in another, Jesus humbly washes the feet of his disciples while the pope haughtily compels the princes of Europe to bow before him; and in yet another, Christ chases moneychangers from the temple, while the pope sits at a table counting revenue from selling indulgences (Figure 13.4). As in Memling’s Last Judgment, symmetry in the Passional establishes the separation between the legitimate and illegitimate, the pure and the defiled, the saved and the damned. But unlike Memling’s painting, no Christ in Majesty appears at the apex of the dividing line, for he already appears, not in his spiritual glory, but in his historical and limited corporeality. The role of judge is instead granted to the reader, who, with each turn of the page, is made to see the papacy’s visibility – its material existence as a powerful and grand institution – as proof of its demonic corruption. As progressive narrative, the book’s format differs from the static iconicity of painting. The experience of turning the pages, of gathering discrete elements with an abstract and invisible sense of connection verified by the final page, belies the nunc stans and instead valorizes revelation as a process of linear unfolding. Because the Reformation in England was initially a state affair, driven by Henry VIII’s demand for political expediency


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


FIGURE 13.4  Philipp Melanchthon, Passional Christi und Antichristi ([1521], 1885) (courtesy of Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg). On facing page: Christ chasing moneylenders from temple; on this page: Pope counting revenue from indulgences


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in seeking a divorce and his need to replenish his dwindling coffers, apocalyptic iconography did not dominate at first. However, in 1547, exiled English bishop John Bale published his extended commentary on the Book of Revelation, The Image of Both Churches, which justified the Anglican church comprehensively, if not with perfect theological coherence. The work consists of alternating sections of original biblical text and Bale’s often much longer commentary, creating a rather haphazard reinterpretation of ecclesiastical history. Throughout, he uses the images of Antichrist and the scheme of apocalyptic dualism to align the Catholic church with the false Whore of Babylon and the Protestant church – including its many forerunners, like the fourteenth-­century Lollards – with the pure Woman in White, the true church. Using the Book of Revelation as a framework for reinterpreting the history of the Anglican church provided two important justifications for the English Reformation. First, unlike the Catholic church, which English Protestants took to privilege tradition over Scripture, Bale’s interpretation of Revelation made the authority of Scripture primary, as stated in the introduction to the work: ‘Yet is the text [Scripture] a light to the chronicles, and not the chronicles to the text’.11 Second, by situating both the historical past and the Reformation present in a still-­unfolding apocalyptic moment, Bale undermines spiritual authority based on custom. In fact, tradition, as an entrenched feature of the old world, about to be burned away, becomes a grave liability within the context of Revelation. Armed with a typology of Christ/ Antichrist, true church/false church, Bale’s commentary in the Image re-­evaluates one standard chronicle anecdote after another, converting former heretics into faithful Christians and former saints into demonic agents. Bale’s protégé, John Foxe, expanded this scheme in his influential Actes and Monuments, which catalogued the historical persecution of the Protestant faithful and, along with an English translation of the Bible, was made available in every Elizabethan church. On the title page to the second volume of his work, Foxe combines the visual semiotics of The Last

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


Judgment and the Passional to reinforce the legitimacy of Protestant identity and the significance of the present struggle against the papacy for divine history (Figure 13.5). Christ in Majesty appears at the top of the page. Below, saints and suffering martyrs on the left are contrasted with demonic rituals of Catholic worship (here the Elevation of the Host) on the right; the scenes of preaching in the true and false churches appear at the bottom. Foxe’s iconography re-­maps how Memling’s Last Judgment defined dualism and grafts it onto the confessional division between Catholics and Protestants in the intensely secular context of England’s national past, present and future. Within its pages, the Acts continues the Passional’s strategy of associating the papacy with the Antichrist, emphasizing papal desire for universal power and absolute jurisdiction with woodcuts showing European kings, including the English King John, shamefully supplicating at the pope’s feet. Foxe’s second volume begins with a woodcut allegorically celebrating Henry VIII’s suppression of the Catholic church in England, wherein the Tudor king is shown triumphantly seated on his throne with the pope prostrate beneath his feet. As critic Richard Helgerson has noted, ‘England’s royal identity is built into the very structure of Acts and Monuments’ because ‘its chronological frame is provided by the succession of England’s monarchs’. And though the frontispiece does not directly represent English monarchy, the work’s overall scheme implies that ‘the visible church [i.e. Church of England] of which the king is the head should also be the local embodiment of Christ’s invisible and universal church’.12 Foxe’s eschatological merging of confessional and national identities – and the new form of sovereign authority that it forged for the crown of England – also draws on a lesser-­ known figure associated with the same apocalyptic tradition as the Antichrist: the katechon. The concept of the katechon originates in the text of 2 Thessalonians, where the apostle Paul addresses the issue of eschatology and its meaning for the Christian community at Thessalonica, warning against a breakdown of social order that apocalyptic expectation might


Temporality, Genre and Experience

FIGURE 13.5  Title page of John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1583) (STC 11225, Houghton Library, Harvard University)

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


potentially generate and enumerating a series of cryptic signs that he claims will serve as true markers for the end of days: Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction . . . And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. (2.3–8 13) In the interpretive tradition of the early Church, the ‘man of lawlessness’ became associated with Satan generally and the Antichrist in particular, while ‘the restrainer’ (Greek: τὸ κατέχον [tò katéchon]) was construed as the Roman Empire itself.14 In deferring the appearance of this malevolent force, the secular state stands as the lesser of two evils, encouraging early Christians to submit to its contingent and temporary authority. Throughout the development of western Christendom, from late antiquity to the Middle Ages, the notion of the katechon was attached to various visions of secular authority. After Constantine’s Christianization of the Roman Empire, the katechon became suffused into the legendary figure of the Last World Emperor, whose successful conquest of the globe, followed by his voluntary surrender of power, would serve as the final prelude to the appearance of the Antichrist.15 As late as the tenth century, the French Abbot Adso of Montier-­enDer, in a famous letter to Queen Gerberga of Saxony (wife of Louis IV of France), professed belief in the central elements of the Last World Emperor myth and translated it into the context of the Holy Roman Empire.16 With the dawn of the Reformation, however, the figure of the katechon was explicitly disavowed by English Protestants, who evoked and revised the myths of Last World Emperor


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and Antichrist to provide historical and theological justification for England’s separation from the Roman Catholic Church. Rather than projecting the time of the Antichrist into the future, an assumed deferral at the very foundation of the katechon’s previous unification of spiritual and temporal authorities, English Protestants proclaimed the present to be the End of Days and attached the label of Antichrist not to a historical individual, but to the perpetual office of the papacy itself.17 Foxe’s Actes and Monuments thus re-­fashioned the authority of English monarchy as that of katechon for this new vision of an unfolding apocalyptic history. Following the Protestant abandonment of deferral, Foxe’s English monarch now became an active and literal restrainer of a present papal Antichrist instead of delaying a far-­off eschaton. This was a role that Edward VI would relish during his short reign, captured in a remarkable painting by an unknown artist (now housed in England’s National Portrait Gallery) that shows the boy king enthroned with pope beneath his feet in imitation of Foxe’s woodcuts. Elizabeth’s clergy invoked the function of the katechon in pamphlets, books and sermons throughout her reign.18 After Elizabeth’s death, however, the power of apocalyptic thinking began to deepen and widen in ways that the state could no longer control or instrumentally deploy. Thomas Brightman’s interpretation of Revelation, published posthumously at the turn of the seventeenth century, shows how radical Puritan appropriation of the Antichrist concept turned the label against the Church of England itself.19 Joseph Mede’s Clavis Apocalyptica, published in Latin in 1627 and in English as The Key of the Revelation in 1643, convinced a whole generation of English millennialists that the End was coming in their lifetimes. Henceforth the attempt to ‘immanentize the eschaton’ (to use political philosopher Eric Voegelin’s phrase) began in earnest.20 As Christopher Hill’s seminal study Antichrist in Seventeenth Century England demonstrates, the Antichrist label proved fungible, and its initial power to consolidate national identity against the imperialist and

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


universalist claims of the Catholic church and Holy Roman Empire soon turned inward and corroded the national cohesion that it had originally been deployed to create.21 The label ‘Antichrist’ could travel from the papacy to Archbishop Laud to local prelates and even to kings, generating much of the radical rhetoric that fuelled the chaotic changes of the English Civil War and Republican period. As Hill notes, ‘in retrospect Parliamentarians came to claim that it was God, not man, who called the Long Parliament in 1640; that God, not man, created the New Model Army and brought about the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649’.22 Thus, by the middle of the seventeenth century, English Protestantism’s instrumentalizing of apocalyptic temporality to overturn established papal authority had grown into a full-­blown cultural crisis, wherein no commonly recognized authority or shared collective identity seemed capable of being established at all.

Thomas Hobbes’ secularized eschatology This millenarian unravelling was the context for Thomas Hobbes’ rationalist intervention in political philosophy. It is likewise the framework of his famous frontispiece to Leviathan, which reconceives the iconography of early modern political legitimacy. Leviathan followed upon Hobbes’ earlier philosophical attempt to address the political turmoil that would eventually break out into Civil War: De Cive (‘On the Citizen’), first printed in limited edition in Paris in 1642 and published in London, in Latin, in 1647. Many of the most important and innovative features of Hobbes’ political philosophy – his conception of the state of nature, of natural laws, of contract as the basis for government and of the subordination of religion to the authority of the state – are introduced in this work, and the iconography of the 1642 frontispiece clearly reflects Hobbes’ attempt to contain and


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redirect the apocalyptic energies driving politics in England (Figure 13.6). At the top, Hobbes includes the standard figures of the Last Judgement: the separation of the elect from the damned in a symmetrical scheme surmounted by Christ in Majesty. Here, a

FIGURE 13.6  Frontispiece of Hobbes’ De cive, by Jean Matheus (1642) (*EC65 H6525 642e, Houghton Library, Harvard University)

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horizontal division complements the standard vertical separation, cordoning off the apocalyptic scene in the top half and effectively undercutting the universalist claims of eschatological expectation. Just as the doomsday iconography does not take up the entirety of the representational space, so too will Hobbes’ philosophy argue that it cannot completely define our understanding of politics, legitimacy and ethics. The lower half of the frontispiece offers Hobbes’ conceptual replacements for the apocalyptic dualism that had defined English nationalism and collective identity for nearly a century. On the left, the figure of Imperium – representing government, order and civilization – stands with sword and scales before a background of cultivated fields and industrious production. On the right, Libertas, figured as a New World savage with bow and spear, represents the state of nature and stands before a background depicting scenes of war and competition – Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes (‘war of all against all’). Hobbes translates the collective membership and duty invested in the images of eternal salvation or damnation to the worldlier categories of those upholding civil order and those undermining it. The Antichrist here becomes the lawless state of nature itself. Taking the central position of the judging Christ is the drawn curtain of the book’s title. Below this, with strategic ambiguity, is a quotation from Proverbs 8:15: ‘By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just’. Does per me (through me) refer to God? Or to Hobbes’ own work of political theory awaiting the reader’s perusal? Perhaps the latter possibility – which I think that Hobbes clearly, if winkingly, intends – accounts for De Cive’s failed legacy. Rational theory might be useful, but it does not keep a viewer in awe like Memling’s Christ in Majesty. Thus, in 1651, Hobbes added the missing piece: the imposing and terrifying symbol of Leviathan. Depicted in the famous frontispiece towering over a serene countryside, Leviathan, Hobbes’ ‘mortal god’, stands as the irresistible power of the state and the keeper of sovereignty, which sits in judgement over worldly matters just as Christ enthroned did over spiritual ones (Figure 13.7).


Temporality, Genre and Experience

FIGURE 13.7  Frontispiece of Hobbes’ Leviathan, by Abraham Bosse (1651) (*AC85.J2376.Zz651h, Houghton Library, Harvard University)

The Semiotics of Collective Temporality


The visual force around this central figure is not centrifugal as in Memling’s Last Judgement, separating a common stock of humanity into the permanent antithesis of saved and damned. Rather, it centripetally brings together a multitude of individuals that make up Leviathan’s body while also uniting the crozier and the sword as symbols of sacred and secular power. The collection of images below the Leviathan antithetically matches icons of secular power with their theological counterparts: the castle and the cathedral, the crown and the mitre, the cannon and the lightning of excommunication, military arsenal and allegorical symbols of disputational logic, the battlefield and the ecclesiastical court. Leviathan simultaneously brings these sacred and secular powers together and wields them like weapons ready to defend against any onslaught from an unseen outside enemy. Thus Leviathan does not create a collective identity by inaugurating the end of time, but by providing for its extension. Within the text itself, Hobbes’ discussion of the nature of the state bespeaks his desire for a symbol that guarantees continuity: It is necessary for the conservation of the peace of men, that as there was order taken for an Artificiall Man, so there order also taken, for an Artificiall Eternity of life; without which, men that are governed by an Assembly, should return to the condition of Warre in every age; and they that are governed by One man, as soon as their Governour dyeth. This Artificiall Eternity, is that which men call the Right of Succession.23 This artificial eternity demands priority in the temporal imagination of its subjects. As the quotation from the Book of Job that stretches over the top of the frontispiece avers: ‘There is no power on earth which can be compared to him’. Hobbes’ decision to reach back to the Book of Job for his symbol, rather than forward to the Book of Revelation, rejects universalism in favour of absolutism.24 Hobbes seeks a less eschatological version of divine theodicy as a model of sovereignty. Instead of


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the apocalyptic answer to the gnashing of teeth and wailing of human suffering – ‘hold tight; it won’t be long’ – Hobbes’ sovereign, like Job’s God, responds with the more authoritarian and less promissory ‘Who are you to question me?’ In short, Hobbes attempts to reinstitute the ethic of deferral that had been the Catholic church’s foundation, but here the dies irae being delayed is the return to the state of nature – a superseded past and a potential future (according to Hobbes’ account), rather than an end of history. This bases authority upon a common desire to defer, to prolong the current state of affairs and extend the present season. The symbol of Leviathan thus operates as the restrainer, the katechon, of the Antichrist of disorder, who produces history instead of ending it.25

14 Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time Valerie Wayne

In Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time, Matthew D. Wagner explains that our experience of theatrical time entails ‘the “now” of the theatre, but what makes that now powerful, meaningful, and unique is its marked constitution of past and future, its trumpeting of its beginning and end not as they line up sequentially, but as they stack simultaneously’. Wagner draws on Husserl to define the present as ‘ “thick” with both past and future’ and describe the ‘theatrical present’ as ‘allowing us to see and experience the dimensional depth of the “now” which daily life usually occludes’.1 Considering plays in relation to this concept of temporal density reveals that some appear thicker than others. The medieval genre of romance is especially known for its multiplicities and incongruities of time and place, and when those narratives were transposed to the stage, some dramatic romances reflected their origins by staging an especially overt or complex thickness of time. These densities can sharpen, in Husserlian terms, ‘our retentive and protentive faculties’.2


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The dramatic romances that Shakespeare wrote near the end of his career experiment with different ways of compacting temporal registers. Pericles begins with its eponymous character as a young man and ends with him as a very old one who discovers his daughter. The broad design is episodic and largely linear, encompassing most of a lifetime. The Winter’s Tale divides its chronological narrative into two halves separated by sixteen years, then sutures them with an explanatory figure called Time. Its first half stages a young couple’s fractured marriage, the death of their son and birth of their daughter; its second half reunites the older couple and introduces each of them to their grown daughter. The Tempest seems instead to be an exercise in adapting romance material to the unities of time and place. Its temporal densities are achieved through narrated summaries, especially in its second scene, of Prospero’s past and the histories of its highly diverse characters, all of whom converge on one day in the same locale.3 Each of these plays also features a theophany in which figures from beyond the temporal world enter into the action. Producing a comparable summary for Shakespeare’s handling of time in Cymbeline, however, seems far less simple. This romance draws from two different kinds of source material: stories about a wager on a wife’s chastity and historical narratives about hostilities between Britain and Rome. In its first half, after the husband of Britain’s heir to the throne agrees to a test of his wife’s fidelity, she is nearly raped by a decadent Italian. In the second half, the Romans invade Britain in order to retain it as part of their empire. Since medieval and early modern texts presented Cymbeline as the king who reigned when Jesus was born, the play’s initial historical time can be taken as first-­century Britain, while some of the wager narratives are associated with Renaissance Italy. Both times and both places figure in the play. After opening in the court of Cymbeline, the action moves to Renaissance Rome in Act One, Scene Four, then again in Act Two, Scene Four and Act Two, Scene Five. In Act One, Scene Six and Act Two, Scene Two, Iachimo, a distinctly Renaissance villain, infiltrates early Britain, causing temporal convergences

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


among characters in five of eleven scenes in the first two acts.4 More subtle convergences appear in Act Three, Scene One with the arrival of the Roman ambassador Lucius and in Act Three, Scene Two with the receipt of Posthumus’s accusatory letters. Once the long-­lost sons of Cymbeline (Guiderius and Arviragus) and their surrogate father Belarius exit from their cave in Wales in Act Three, Scene Three, the action shifts to a more primitive context that is less colonized and less civilized. The scenes are all exteriors, after the previous scenes appear to have been interiors, and the characters are living off the land in a hard pastoral. The second half also includes a brief shift to classical (rather than Renaissance) Rome in Act Three, Scene Seven and the staging of a dream that manifests lost ancestors appealing to the god Jupiter in Act Five, Scene Four. In broad strokes, the play might be said to fold temporally into two halves, the first half moving between Cymbeline’s fairly cosmopolitan court and Renaissance Rome, the second half located in rural Wales with incursions from Cymbeline’s court (3.6), Renaissance Rome (4.2, 4.4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5) and immortal realms (5.4). Temporally, having begun in a ‘now’ of Cymbeline’s reign, the play moves forward roughly 1,600 years on two occasions, returns to ‘now’ each time, then evokes an even earlier phase of British history, until characters from other time zones converge near the end. This structure seems especially relevant to Michael Serres’ observation that ‘every historical era is . . . multitemporal, simultaneously drawing from the obsolete, the contemporary, and the futuristic. An object, a circumstance, is thus polychronic, multitemporal, and reveals a time that is gathered together, with multiple pleats’. Serres sees time as ‘a kind of crumpling, a multiple, foldable diversity’.5 Drawing on his schema, I want to characterize Cymbeline as temporally folded into two pleated halves: first-­century present/future; first-­century present/past. If the past and future are co-­implicated in the now, then Cymbeline’s strategies may be seen to amplify the temporalities that occur generally in phenomenological experience, as well as staging the densities particular to its own early modern time.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The transformations of Janus The sources of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and the Jacobean context of the play’s first performances both link the reigns of Cymbeline and James I to the Roman god Janus, whose two-­ faced regard towards the past and the future seems to have motivated its primary temporal fold. William Camden’s Britain (1610) reproduces ‘Coines of the Britans’ on three folio pages, beginning with one picturing a two-­faced Janus that is inscribed ‘CVNO’, for ‘Cunobelinus’ (Cymbeline’s Latin name). A second coin depicts Cymbeline’s image (Figure 14.1).6 Camden finds the god who looked in two directions at once appropriate to Cymbeline, because even at that time Britaine began to cast off and leave their barbarous rudenesse. For we read, how Janus was the first, that changed babarous [sic] maners into civill behaviour, and therefore was depainted with two fore-­ heads, to signifie, that he had of one shape made another.7 A similar association with transformation occurs in Plutarch’s account of Numa Pompilius in North’s translation of the Lives, where Janus is credited with changing those he ruled from ‘rude, cruell, and wild’ to ‘honest, gentle, and civill. For this cause they doe painte his image at this daye with two faces, the one before, and the other behinde, for thus chaunging the lives of men’.8 Speed’s History of Great Britaine associates Cymbeline with Christ’s birth, marking his rule as a period of world peace, when the doors to the temple of Janus were shut.9 For the early moderns, Cymbeline’s reign became associated with temporal as well as religious and political change when the years after Jesus’ birth were designated AD or Anno Domini, ‘the year of the Lord’, in contrast to BC, or ‘before Christ’, creating a division in history that was observed in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The dual gaze of Janus prefigured this division with a classical concept of divided time, one that structures the play’s large temporal shift back to

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


FIGURE 14.1  The first two coins from Cymbeline’s reign reproduced in William Camden, Britain (1610) (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

Britain’s ancient past and forward to England’s civilizing, colonizing future. When the newly crowned James I processed through London in his accession pageant to become the first Stuart King of England, Ben Jonson’s portion of the entertainment also linked him to Janus.10 The King’s Entertainment celebrates James as a British monarch who unifies England and Scotland, hailing him as ‘a new Augustus’ who closes the gates of the Janus temple to signify a time of peace.11 As part of this


Temporality, Genre and Experience

procession, the arch at Temple Bar was embellished in imitation of the Temple of Janus Quadrifons (four-­faced) in Rome. Irene as Peace appeared as the principal figure in this triumphal arch, below a Janus head that was inscribed, ‘IANO QUADRIFRONTI SACRUM’ (Figure 14.2).12 Martin Butler says that this work situates James as an embodiment of classical figures and imagines ‘his accession as

FIGURE 14.2  Detail from the top of the arch at Temple Bar as embellished for James I’s accession pageant, reproduced in Stephen Harrison’s The arch’s of triumph (London [c. 1613]), plate 8 (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library)

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


a turning point in world history’.13 Many of the play’s concerns with Britain, Brute (the country’s legendary founder), union and peace, as well as its Janus-­like movements between past and future, appear in Jonson’s Entertainment, which was published the same year that it was performed. ‘Peace’ is literally the last word in Shakespeare’s play. Cymbeline’s concern with reconciling conflicts among ancient Britons, Romans and Renaissance Italians resonated with James’s presentation as rex pacificus, and the pleating of time effected by the allusion to Cymbeline is redoubled by James’s own connections with Janus.14 Since Janus was the Roman god of ianuae, which is Latin for gates, doorways and thresholds, he was even more appropriate as a figure to link King James’s aspirations for a peaceful, united Britain to the ancient king whose reign was associated with peace, cultural transformation and the inception of Christian time.15 The doubled vision of Janus became a way to structure a play set during Cymbeline’s reign, especially since it drew on sources set partly in Genoa, an Italian city-­state whose legendary founder was also the god Janus.16

The primary fold The play’s temporal chronologies are oddly reversed in Shakespeare’s play: Cymbeline’s first half moves to the future and the second half to the past. The ‘now’ of the play is firstcentury Britain at Cymbeline’s court (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3). After forward movements to Renaissance Rome (1.4, 2.4 and 2.5), the play returns to the ‘now’ of its opening in Act Three, Scene One and Act Three, Scene Two. In Act Three, Scene Three it moves to an earlier phase of the Briton past with Belarius, Guiderius and Arviragus in Wales. The remaining scenes are all set in Wales with those characters, except for court scenes in Act Three, Scene Four, Act Three, Scene Five and Act Four, Scene Three, plus a scene set in classical Rome in Act Three, Scene Seven. In Act Five, Scene One Posthumus returns to Britain, and Cymbeline’s times begin to converge throughout the last act.


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The play’s primary fold occurs in Act Three, Scene One, where it shifts from the wager plot to the war plot with Lucius’s arrival in Britain.17 Two scenes later, the action moves to a more primitive Britain in Act Three, Scene Three. Each half is complicated by what Serres calls ‘pleats’ that vary its times by shifting from the court to Renaissance Italy in the first half and from the court to rural Wales and classical Rome in the second half. These temporal pleats are not neat. As Serres observes, the quotidian experience of time is likewise messy: he likens it to a handkerchief that ‘is folded, crumpled, shredded’. He adds that ‘[t]wo distant points are suddenly close, even superimposed’ and ‘two points that were close can become very distant’, because we sense time as ‘polychronic, multitemporal’.18 The staging of the bedroom scene in Act Two, Scene Two and its narration in Act Two, Scene Four (which will be discussed shortly) provides an instance of two related points that are temporally very distinct from one another. If these polychronicities do not feel notably disruptive for the play’s audiences, that may be because, while they violate linear narrativity, they mimic phenomenological experience. Given James I’s aspirations of a union between England and Scotland, Cymbeline shows how the complexities of pleated time could respond to a topical political issue when the play was first performed. It does so by accessing the iconography and myth of ‘Britain’ as a restitution of its former unity, even though that recovery posed the problem that the distant time was primitive and the early Britons were the ‘savage other’ of the Roman occupation. By wrinkling its temporalities, the play manages to conflate that past with Britain’s present and future, so that even its rough and rural characters are redeemed in the process. Those issues only surface in the play’s second half, however, after the Romans invade Britain beginning in Act Three, Scene One. The threat posed in the play’s first half, when Iachimo intrudes on Britain’s heir, is far more personal and dramatic, hence more immediately engaging for the audience. Innogen’s role links the two plots, which are both about forms of invasion, but they operate quite separately for much of the play.

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


Two topical concerns, James’s union project and England’s colonization of the New World, prompted the movement to the future in connection with a return to the past, for in both instances, the country’s future prospects produced reconsiderations of its ancient history. Although the union project had failed in Parliament by 1607, James did not abandon his desire to unify England, Scotland and Wales until 1610; he was ‘still hoping for union in the next parliament as late as 14 February 1610’.19 The play was probably begun in the first half of that year, if not earlier. Yet from the time that James assumed the throne, the prospect of changing the nation’s name provoked unease about how ‘Britain’ recalled the ancient Britons and their rudimentary, inchoate history. Those opposed to union, like Sir Henry Spelman, argued that the burial of ‘the honorable name of England . . . in the resurrection of Albion or Britannia’ would ‘drownde the glory of a nation triumphant through all the worlde to restore the memory of an obscure and barberouse people’.20 Francis Bacon, a strong advocate for union, argued in ‘Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain’ that the ancient Britons were so strong and hardy that they were worthy forebears for a unified nation and its imperial enterprises.21 In 1604, James pre-­empted this part of the dispute by seizing the signifier to change his title to ‘King of Great Britainne, France, and Ireland’.22 He issued a coin called the ‘unite’ and had the first Union Jack created, representing himself as the king of a unified realm rooted in Briton ancestry.23 The colonization of the New World was another instance in which looking forward prompted a look backward. Harriot’s Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia was republished in 1590 by Theodore de Bry with illustrations by John White, together with an appendix presenting five illustrations of the Picts ‘which in the Olde tyme did habite one part of the great Bretainne’. They are included in a book about the Algonkians ‘for to showe how that the Inhabitants of the great Bretannie have bin in times past as savvage as those of Virginia’.24 The appended images helped early moderns to


Temporality, Genre and Experience

envision some of their own ancestors, and the enterprises in the New World brought the old world of the ancient Britons more clearly into focus. The play’s movements replicate those temporal glances. However, rather than presenting its ancient Britons as solely savage, Cymbeline’s scenes with Guiderius and Arviragus shift between portraying them first as civil (3.3), then savage (4.2.112–53), then civil (4.2.194–289), and then fiercely valorous as they fight in the narrow lane (5.2.11–14 and SD; 5.3.14–51). These alterations make the ancient Britons recognizable by their roughness and courage while still affirming their civility and worth, complicating the second half with pleats that evoke different phases of the Britons’ past while rehabilitating them for a nation already engaged in the work of colonialism and empire.

Pleats in the fold While some of the pleats in Cymbeline’s second half relate to the early Britons, there are more pronounced temporal disjunctions in the first half, when the action jumps forward one and a half millennia. These leaps prompt the intersection of characters from different time periods with one another. In Act One, Scene Six, as Iachimo arrives in Britain to seduce Innogen in order to win the wager, he is described as a ‘noble gentleman of Rome’ (1.6.10) and in the next scene as an ‘Italian’ (2.1.45), and he uses a decadent Renaissance approach to try to win a first-­century Briton princess. His language is densely elliptical as he reports that Posthumus has been enjoying prostitutes in Italian brothels. It is as if Iachimo were a man from the future talking in a foreign tongue. Innogen cannot understand him, and the audience has difficulty; once she grasps his intent, she calls him a ‘saucy stranger’ (1.6.150). His remarks in Act One, Scene Four and Act Two, Scene Four when he is in Italy and Act Two, Scene Two in soliloquy are more accessible than those in Act One, Scene Six when he arrives in Britain, or when he returns there, especially in Act

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


Five, Scene Five. The most obvious reason for his opacity in Act One, Scene Six is that he aims to arouse Innogen’s doubts about her husband’s fidelity without directly saying what Posthumus has been doing in Rome. But Iachimo’s obscure language also conveys the temporal as well as national and ethical gap between this predator from the Italian Renaissance and his prey in ancient Britain. In Act Two, Scene Two, Iachimo’s emergence from the trunk to gather evidence to win the wager unleashes in Innogen’s bedroom the risk of a future time that ruptures the play’s marital, national and temporal relations. John Kerrigan describes the scene as ‘the proleptic penetration of Britain by Latin and by Roman culture’.25 It anticipates the invasion of Britain that occurs in its second half and associates its consequences with the erotic texts of Ovid. Iachimo’s entrance and exit are framed by what Wagner, following Husserl, refers to as objective time, in contrast to phenomenological or subjective time.26 After Innogen is told that it is midnight, she puts her book aside, saying she has been reading for three hours. Then Iachimo comes out of the trunk, surveys her sleeping body, takes her bracelet, notes the mole on her breast and sees she has been reading the story of Philomel’s rape by Tereus. At the end of the scene, as he exits via the trunk, the Folio’s stage direction indicates that the ‘Clock strikes’ and Iachimo says, ‘One, two, three: time, time!’ (2.2.51). In addition to marking off ‘a timeless space of fantasy, or dream’ for Innogen, this scene stages a nightmare of temporal and cultural dissonance, with Iachimo’s voyeuristic gaze scanning the body of the Briton princess while she is unaware.27 The Italian is clearly capable of raping Innogen in ways analogous to the colonizer raping the land of the colonized, and those who knew the story of Lucrece would have expected that event to occur. Yet the staged threat can remain symbolic because Iachimo’s primary intent is to acquire evidence, however predatory he appears. The scene’s temporal incongruity even extends to the presence of a striking clock in ancient Briton, which would not be invented in the extra-­dramatic world until the late thirteenth century.28


Temporality, Genre and Experience

The play presents two versions of this scene’s setting and events, each in different time periods. One is staged and the other narrated. When Iachimo is inside Innogen’s room in Act Two, Scene Two, he refers to the bedroom’s simple furnishings and to Ovid. Yet when he describes the room two scenes later after he is back in Renaissance Rome, his iconography evokes the kinds of Renaissance chambers that Eleonora de Toledo, Isabella d’Este, Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Stuart and Bess of Hardwick created to symbolize their identities: the silk and silver tapestry of Cleopatra meeting Antony, the chimney-­piece of Dian bathing, the golden cherubins carved in the ceiling and the silver andirons of winking Cupids.29 The same location is first presented on the early modern stage as in ancient Britain with minimal props and no scenery; the second time it is recreated through Iachimo’s ekphrasis as an aristocratic Renaissance bedchamber. J. K. Barret points out that these ‘descriptions compete with what is staged and what the audience knows by introducing vistas (masquerading as memories) of what we never saw’, with the result that we are made ‘retrospectively aware’ of competing interpretations and implicated more fully into Iachimo’s voyeurism.30 Iachimo’s later account contributes to the gap between future and past by describing to us a room that was temporally preposterous in Cymbeline’s court. In the play’s last scene Iachimo cannot readily explain how he acquired the ring that Innogen gave to Posthumus, not only because he is overcome with guilt, but because he was a Renaissance Italian spying on an ancient Briton. He makes three false starts, nearly faints, then haltingly begins, ‘Upon a time – unhappy was the clock / That struck the hour’ (5.5.153–4). His narrative loses its thread and keeps digressing into praise of Posthumus until Iachimo locates the ground of his story in Innogen’s chastity. Rather than conceal the temporal problems posed by this scene, Shakespeare calls attention to them by mentioning time and that ‘unhappy’ clock. This play’s polychronicities are bold and obvious, particularly in its first half. Productions of the play, however, often impose temporal

Cymbeline, Janus and Folded Time


consistency in their stagings, and Cymbeline’s time travel is frequently homogenized in its texts as well.31 Summarizing the plot poses problems not only for Iachimo, who is the most ‘untimely’ character in the play, but for almost anyone retelling its story, because some events from the wager plot with its incursions from the future are presented before those from the war plot between Britain and Rome.32 What is achieved through this dissonance, where the threat of temporal and cultural rape is staged before the Roman invasion, and Britain’s ancient past is evoked for audiences whose present is early modern? When the play collapses time in on itself, it disables an audience’s abilities to separate out future from past in order to convey how an anticipated threat affects the present and how the past is reactivated at a later time. In 1610, when ‘Great Britain’ was a title assumed by its monarch but not yet adopted as the legal name for the country he ruled, when English attempts to subdue the Irish nearby and the Native Americans abroad replicated Roman imperial conquests and some of the brutalities the Britons had experienced at their conquerors’ hands, perhaps the Janus-­like movements of Cymbeline’s temporalities conveyed, or were hoped to convey, the thickness of that particular time along with what Serres describes as the ‘multiple, foldable diversity’ of temporal experience more generally. The play resonates with Serres’ claim that ‘we are always simultaneously making gestures that are archaic, modern, and futuristic’.33 So although its fantastic temporal disjunctions may seem particularly distant from lived historical experience, Cymbeline’s capacity to take extravagant licence with time, place and narrative structure enables it to stack time with a remarkable density. That quality reveals its affinity both with everyday experience and with the political cross-­currents of its own Jacobean moment.

Notes Chapter  1 1 J. R. Lucas, A Treatise on Time and Space (London: Methuen, 1973), 4. 2 Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan (London: Arden, 1999). All references to this play are from this edition. 3 Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982), 84. 4 Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood, Anachronic Renaissance (New York: Zone Books, 2010), 10. 5 David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1982), 3. 6 Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (New York: Routledge, 2012), 6. 7 Wagner, Shakespeare, 68. 8 Wagner, Shakespeare, 28. Wagner writes, ‘Husserl argues that this thickness is the nature of the present moment in our everyday lives, but we have formed myriad ways of glossing over that thickness; the theatre, I suggest, does not so readily allow us such a gloss’. Shakespeare, 6. 9 Wagner, Shakespeare, 13. 10 Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 60. 11 Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Age of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).



12 Group Phi, ‘Doing Genre’, in Verena Theile and Linda Tredennick, eds, New Formalisms and Literary Theory (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 54–70, 59. 13 Rosalie Colie, The Resources of Kind: Genre-Theory in the Renaissance, ed. Barbara Lewalski (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 17. Thomas Greene investigates ‘inventio’ at greater length in The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). 14 Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), 9. 15 See for example Terence Hawkes, Shakespeare in the Present (London: Routledge, 2002) and Cary DiPietro and Hugh Grady, eds, Shakespeare and the Urgency of Now: Criticism and Theory in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Palgrave, 2013). 16 Among important articulations of New Formalism are Marjorie Levinson, ‘What is New Formalism?’, PMLA 122.2 (2007): 557–69; Susan Wolfson, Formal Charges (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997); Paul Armstrong, ‘Form and History: Reading as an Aesthetic Experience and Historical Act’, Modern Language Quarterly 69.2 (June 2008): 195–201; Stephen Cohen, Shakespeare and Historical Formalism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007); Ann Coiro and Thomas Fulton, eds, Rethinking Historicism from Shakespeare to Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Jonathan Culler, ‘Lyric, History, and Genre’, New Literary History 40.4 (2009): 879–99; Wai-Chee Dimock, Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); Heather Dubrow, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Reinterpreting Formalism and the Country House Poem’, Modern Language Quarterly 61.1 (2000): 59–77; Verena Theile and Linda Tredennick, eds, New Formalisms and Literary Theory; Stephen Owen, ‘Genres in Motion’, PMLA 122.5 (2009): 1389–93; and Mark David Rasmussen, ed., Renaissance Literature and its Formal Engagements (New York: Palgrave, 2002). 17 Julia Reinhard Lupton, Afterlives of the Saints: Hagiography, Typology, and Renaissance Literature (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 38.



18 The Art of English Poesy by George Puttenham: A Critical Edition, ed. Frank Whigham and Wayne Rebhorn (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), 124. 19 ‘[A] God is . . . lawfull . . . in a tragedie, and meane people . . . in a comedie’. Fletcher, ‘To the Reader’, The Faithful Shepherdess (London: Bunion and Whalley, 1610), ¶2v. 20 Colie, Resources, 8–9. 21 See for instance the debate among the poet, painter and jeweller in the opening scene of Timon of Athens. 22 The Rhetoric and Poetics of Aristotle, trans. W. Rhys Roberts and Ingram Bywater (New York: Modern Library, 1954), 225. 23 Fletcher, ‘To the Reader’, ¶2v. 24 Fletcher, ‘To the Reader’, ¶2v. 25 Ham 2.2.329–401. The mechanicals’ proposal of ‘a tedious brief scene’ of ‘very tragical mirth’ (MND 5.1.56–57) could index a similar impatience with genre taxonomy. 26 David Bevington, Introduction, TC, 3; Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, Introduction, William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, gen. eds Orgel and Braunmuller (New York: Penguin, 2002), l. 27 Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), 118. 28 Frye, Anatomy, 184. 29 This diagram distills ideas in Frye, Anatomy and Frye, Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976). 30 TWT 5.2.15. 31 For the preface, see Bevington, TC, 145. 32 Helen Cooper, Shakespeare and the Medieval World (London: Arden, 2010), 173. 33 Scott Black, ‘Quixotic Realism and the Romance of the Novel’, Novel: A Forum on Fiction 42.2 (2009): 239–44, 240–1, emphasis added. 34 Orgel and Braunmuller, Introduction, li. 35 The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).



36 Edward Dowden, Shakespeare: A Critical Study of his Life, Mind, and Art (London: Macmillan, 1877), 55. 37 See for instance Margaret Spufford, Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction and its Readership in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) and Sarah E. Wall-Randell, The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013). 38 Gary Taylor accounts for playing time, including musical intervals. See ‘The Structure of Performance: Act Intervals in the London Theatres, 1576–1642’, in Taylor and John Jowett, eds, Shakespeare Reshaped, 1606–1623, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 1–50. Valerie Wayne characterizes The Tempest as ‘an exercise in adapting romance material to the unities of time and place’ (Chapter 14 in this collection, page 248). 39 Per. 1.0.1. 40 Caroline Levine, Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 111. 41 Giorgio Agamben, The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999). 42 Nagel and Wood, Anachronic, 10.

Chapter  2 1 Paul Bloom, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like (New York: Norton, 2010), 197. Bloom cites Eric Klinger, ‘Daydreaming and Fantasizing: Thought Flow and Motivation’, in K. D. Markman, W. M. P. Klein and J. A. Suhr, eds, Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation (New York: Psychology Press, 2009), 225–39. See also Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, ‘A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind’, Science (12 November 2010): 932. Northrop Frye, ‘The Argument of Comedy’, in Paul Lauter, ed., Theories of Comedy (Garden City: Doubleday, 1961), 450–60, 459; reprinted from D. A. Robertson, ed., English Institute Essays 1948 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949), 58–73.



2 This chapter leaves to the side those dimensions of temporal experience that involve anachronism within a play or, in general, simultaneity of different historical periods within a dramatic moment; on the latter, see Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). 3 Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (New York: Routledge, 2012). For a helpful survey of recent discussions of time in Shakespeare, see Sarah Lewis, ‘Shakespeare, Time, Theory’, Literature Compass 11.4 (2014): 246–57. 4 Wagner, Shakespeare, 2. 5 Wagner, Shakespeare, 5. 6 Wagner, Shakespeare, 4. 7 Wagner, Shakespeare, 7. 8 Wagner, Shakespeare, 78–86. 9 Unless otherwise noted, Shakespearean references are to Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson and David Kastan, eds, The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works (London: Thomson Learning, 2001). Julia and Lucetta’s play upon musical imagery extends to 98. 10 Alan Brissenden, Shakespeare and the Dance (London: Macmillan, 1981), 35–41. 11 Time-­of-day references are also high, not surprisingly, in the history plays. For example, I count some twenty-­six individual or shared references to the clock time in the twelve comedies (excluding Troilus and Cressida), compared to sixteen in the ten histories and eight in the nine tragedies. 12 Wagner, Shakespeare, 5. 13 Kent Cartwright, ed., The Comedy of Errors (London: Bloomsbury, 2017); see respectively 13, 145, 142; 195, 215, 225, 290; 51, 61, 62, 87–9, 137, 145. 14 Helen Cooper, The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 10; on the elements of romance, see 1–44, from which my comments borrow. 15 On mirrored scenes in Errors, see Cartwright, Errors, 80–1.



16 Cooper, The English Romance in Time, 58. 17 Patricia Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins: Language, Culture, Context (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 57–8. Dilation can occur in other Shakespearean genres. 18 On farce, see Eric Bentley, ‘Farce’, in The Life of Drama (New York: Atheneum, [1964] 1983), 219–56. On farce in Shakespeare, especially The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, see Barbara Freedman, Staging the Gaze: Postmodernism, Psychoanalysis, and Shakespearean Comedy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 78–153. 19 Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins, 60; see 60–75. 20 Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins, 75. 21 Wagner, Shakespeare, 7. 22 Alexander Leggatt, English Stage Comedy 1490–1990: Five Centuries of a Genre (London: Routledge, 2002), 6. 23 In the history of comic theory, a recurrent argument is that comedy stresses the present world and the now of experience: ‘All kinds of comic experiences are experiences of, and about, absolute present time’; Agnes Heller, The Immortal Comedy: The Comic Phenomenon in Art, Literature, and Life (Oxford: Lexington Books, 2005), Kindle edition, location 389–95. 24 In the figure of Falstaff, Wagner sees an archetypal example of time foregrounded and materialized, Shakespeare, 70–7. 25 Frye, ‘Argument’, 454. See also Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), esp. 163–86; and Frye, A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), 141–6. 26 Frye, ‘Argument’, 456. 27 Frye, ‘Argument’, 458, 459. 28 Frye, ‘Argument’, 459. 29 C. L. Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959).



30 François Laroque, Shakespeare’s Festive World: Elizabethan Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 201–2. 31 Laroque, Shakespeare’s Festive World, 201–2. 32 Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984). 33 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 5. 34 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 6. 35 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 12. 36 Bakhtin, Rabelais, 9. 37 Morris Palmer Tilley, The Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1950); references are to numbers for entries. 38 On the relationship between Father Time and Egeon, see Cartwright, Errors, 292, n.5.1.299 and related references. 39 William C. Carroll, The Great Feast of Language in Love’s Labour’s Lost (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 209. For an instructive discussion of time in the play, see 205–28. 40 The Comedy of Errors may also play with the convergence of play-­time and real-­time. If the play was performed in the afternoon, in compliance with recent edicts about the timing of theatrical performances, then its narrative emphasis on the five o’clock meeting of story lines may acknowledge wittily the completion of the play itself at roughly five o’clock in real time; see Cartwright, Errors, 318.

Chapter  3 1 Kendall L. Walton’s theory of representation is relevant here, particularly his notion of ‘the worlds of games in which representational works are props’, and his distinctions between ‘the worlds of games that appreciators play within representational works’ and the worlds of the works themselves. See Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of Representational Arts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 57–8.



2 Todd McGowan, ‘Hitchcock’s Ethics of Suspense: Psychoanalysis and the Devaluation of the Object’, in Thomas Leitch and Leland Poague, eds, A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock (Somerset, UK: Wiley, 2011), 508–28, 508. 3 William F. Condee, ‘Melodrama to Mood: Construction and Deconstruction of Suspense in the “S.S. Glencairn” Plays’, The Eugene O’Neill Review 23 (1999): 8–18, 8. 4 Dolf Zillmann, ‘The Psychology of Suspense in Dramatic Exposition’, in Peter Vorderer, Hans Jürgen Wulff and Mike Friedrichsen, eds, Suspense: Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analysis, and Empirical Explorations (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996), 199–232, 201. 5 Condee, ‘Melodrama to Mood’, 8. 6 Robert J. Yanal, ‘The Paradox of Suspense’, The British Journal of Aesthetics 36.2 (1996): 146–58, 146. 7 Yanal maintains that ‘repeaters’ – those who already know the outcome of a narrative – cannot experience suspense without this supposed necessary condition. He maintains that suspense requires uncertainty and that ‘discomfort . . . is missing in repeaters. . . [which is] why I hold that repeaters do not actually experience suspense’ (‘Paradox’, 153). 8 S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Chapter XIV, in The Major Works, ed. H. J. Jackson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, [1985] 2008), 314. 9 Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe, 256. 10 Donald Beecher, ‘Suspense’, Philosophy and Literature 31.2 (2007): 255–79, 261. 11 Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (London: Routledge, 2012), 18. 12 Wagner, Shakespeare, 19. 13 Hans J. Wulff, ‘Suspense and the Influence of Cataphora on Viewers’ Expectations’, in Vorderer et al., eds, Suspense, 1–18, 1. 14 See Wulff, ‘Suspense’, 3. 15 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor (London: Bloomsbury, 2006). Line numbers appear in the text.



16 Daniel Heiple, ‘La suspensión en la estética de la comedia’, in Angel Gonzàles et al., eds, Estudios sobre el siglo de oro: en homenaje a Raymond R. MacCurdy (Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 1983), 25–35, 27: ‘la suspensión fue un elemento necesario porque los autores, que tenían que entretener un público bastante rudo, la usaban para aumentar la tensión y captar el interés del oyente’ (my translation in the text). On comedy, see also James Forse, ‘Arden of Feversham and Romeo and Juliet: Two Elizabethan Experiments in the Genre of “Comedy-Suspense” ’, Journal of Popular Culture 29.3 (Winter 1995): 85–102. Forse writes: ‘much in this script [RJ] is very funny, and it too plays upon suspense – the suspense of how will Romeo and Juliet overcome all the obstacles in their path’ (90). 17 Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling, ed. Michael Neill (London: Methuen Drama, 2006): 2.2.134–5. Subsequent references are in the text. 18 See Aristotle, Poetics, XV–1454a.33–7. The Greek word αναʹγκη, which means ‘constraint’ or ‘necessity’, is sometimes translated as ‘inevitable’. See e.g. Aristotle: On Poetry and Style, trans. G. M. A. Grube (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1986), 30: ‘In characterization as in plot structure, one must always aim at either what is probable or what is inevitable’; and cf. Poetics, trans. Anthony Kenny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 35: ‘In the case of moral character no less than in plot, we should always look for what is necessary or probable’. 19 Wulff, ‘Suspense’, 7. 20 William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ed. Keir Elam (London: Bloomsbury, 2008).

Chapter  4 1 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama (henceforth OGTD), trans. John Osborne (London: Verso, 1994), 137. 2 Henry VIII, that is, exasperates critics who believe that ‘history’ plays should have a little more respect for history. For a review of some of these criticisms, see Gordon McMullan’s Introduction to William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII (All is True), ed.



McMullan (London: Bloomsbury, 2000). Also see Paul Dean, ‘Dramatic Mode and Historical Vision in Henry VIII’, Shakespeare Quarterly 37.2 (1986): 175–89. 3 What Samuel Weber calls a ‘place where potentialities are tried out’ in Theatricality as Medium (New York: Fordham University Press, 2004), 46–7. 4 I borrow the formulation, ‘late to the Renaissance, early to the Revolution’ from a description of a recent MLA panel organized by Anthony Oliveira, ‘Rethinking the English Baroque’. Philadelphia 2017. https://apps.mla.org/conv_listings_ detail?prog_id=51&year=2017. 5 Benjamin, OGTD, 65. 6 The most relevant examples are the assassination of the French king Henry IV in 1610 (following that of Henry III at the Château de Saint-Cloud in 1573) and the attempted assassination of King James in the famous 1605 ‘Gunpowder Plot’. 7 Peter Goodrich, Oedipus Lex: Psychoanalysis, History, Law (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 26. 8 Goodrich, Oedipus Lex, 26. 9 As an example of this mimetic relation between religion and art, Benjamin points to the depiction of clouds and the lowering of the skies in baroque painting and the crisis of authority brought on by the Reformation. Benjamin, OGTD, 79. 10 Anselm Haverkamp, Shakespearean Genealogies of Power: A Whispering of Nothing in Hamlet, Richard II, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, and The Winter’s Tale (London: Routledge 2011), 2. 11 Benjamin, OGTD, 92. 12 Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1999), 462, my emphasis. 13 The bibliography on Benjamin’s ‘dialectical image’ is extensive. See, to begin with, Max Pensky, ‘Method and Time in Benjamin’s Dialectical Images’, in David S. Ferris, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 177–98; Rainer Nägele,



‘Thinking Images’, in Gerhard Richter, ed., Benjamin’s Ghosts: Interventions in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002) 23–40; Anselm Haverkamp, ‘Notes on the “Dialectical Image” (How Deconstructive is It?)’, Diacritics 22.3/4 (1992): 70–80; Samuel Weber, Benjamin’s-­abilities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); Beatrice Hanssen, Walter Benjamin’s Other History: Of Stones, Animals, Human Beings, and Angels (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); and the collection of essays in Andrew Benjamin, ed., Walter Benjamin and History (London: Continuum, 2005). 14 Benjamin, The Arcades Project, 462; Pensky, ‘Method and Time’, 190. ‘Semi-­concept’ is Gerhard Richter’s term. See Thought-Images: Frankfurt School Writers’ Reflections from Damaged Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 61. 15 Rainer Nägele, ‘Trembling Contours: Kierkegaard-BenjaminBrecht’, in Andrew Benjamin, ed., Walter Benjamin and History, 102–17, 113. 16 Richter, Thought-Images, 62. 17 Richter, Thought-Images, 2. 18 Richter, Thought-Images, 62–3. 19 Michael Wilks, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: The Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965). 20 The first Globe theatre burned down in a fire that started just after the point when stage directions indicate ‘chambers discharge’ during a performance of the play on 29 June 1613. For a discussion of this catastrophic event, see McMullan, Henry VIII, Introduction, 9ff. 21 For a discussion of Benjamin’s sources, see Jane Newman, Benjamin’s Library: Modernity, Nation, and the Baroque (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011). On modernity as monotheism, see Weber, Benjamin’s-­abilities, 131–63. 22 Benjamin, OGTD, 65.



23 Benjamin, OGTD, 137. The classic study of this relation in the context of French absolutism is Louis Marin’s Portrait of the King, trans. Martha Houle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988). 24 While I don’t engage with it here, Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of Schmitt in relation to Benjamin with regard to a ‘state of exception’ informs my reading generally. See Agamben, State of Exception, trans. Kevin Attell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). 25 Benjamin, OGTD, 182. In one of the many complex but also coherent argumentative moves of the book, Benjamin links the emerging practice of criticism in the baroque – the process of recognizing what is knowable – to the ‘consciously constructed ruins’ of its objects: objects (including natural objects), that is, whose tie to transcendence has been cut off. Criticism itself is thus viewed as both an identification as well as a ‘mortification’ of the work – a mixture of intellectual embalming and vivisection in which knowledge comes about not as ‘the awakening of consciousness in living works’ but rather as the ‘settling of knowledge in dead ones’ (OGTD 182). The contemplation of such works leads to the ‘enigmatic satisfaction’ of the allegorist (OGTD 139). 26 Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, ed. R. A. Foakes (Walton-­onThames, Surrey: Arden, 1957), 77. 27 Benjamin, OGTD, 62. 28 On the de casibus tradition, see Paul Budra, A Mirror for Magistrates and the de casibus Tradition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000). 29 Ivo Kamps, Historiography and Ideology in Stuart Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 93. For an example of the figure of Fortuna in medieval tragedy, see John Lydgate, The hystorye sege and dystruccyon of Troy (London, 1513). http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/drama/ early%20tragedies/medievaltragedy.html. 30 Some scholars have argued that the sovereign speech act is often prospective, linked to prophecy. If that is so, then the ‘act’ we have here, on the other hand, is an act of failure, in a play that is itself explicitly about the failure of a certain form of sovereignty



to represent the movement of time. For Marcel Gauchet, for example, the crux of the Christian construction of world history is the problem of time. More specifically, the future becomes the central problem of a theo-­political construction that speaks in a prospective mode, as the Counter-Reformation subject is forced to look in two directions at once, an epistemic condition that tears him or her apart. See Gauchet, The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion, trans. Oscar Burge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 131; Bonnie Honig, ‘The Miracle of Metaphor: Rethinking the State of Exception with Rosenzweig and Schmitt’, Diacritics 37.2/3 (2007): 78–102; and Graham Hammill, The Mosaic Constitution: Political Theology and Imagination from Machiavelli to Milton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 67ff. With regard to Elizabethan culture in particular, see Rachel Kappelle, ‘Predicting Elizabeth: Prophecy on Progress’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 24 (2011): 83–105. 31 I mean in late Shakespeare specifically, but also more generally in the way seventeenth-­century drama is beginning to think through the relationship of sovereignty, time and representation. 32 As Ivo Kamps writes, ‘Shakespeare’s last history plays, Henry VI and especially Henry VIII, although still very much concerned with the actions and failures of “great men”, begin to demonstrate a substantial interest in what Georg Lukács referred to as the “social-­historical basis” of human character. Commencing with Henry V and burgeoning in Henry VIII, Shakespeare (and Fletcher) explore the fundamentally impersonal forces . . . that determine history and the lives of individuals in ways ultimately beyond the control of even the most powerful princes’. Historiography and Ideology in Stuart Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 93. 33 As Gordon McMullan notes, ‘no other “history” play can boast anything like the extent and detail of those stage directions’ (Introduction, H8, 2). 34 Benjamin, OGTD, 81. 35 As McMullan points out, in the scene before, Anne Bullen uses ‘process’ to refer specifically to the history of the royal



relationship: ‘. . . after this process, / To give her the avaunt, it is a pity / Would move a monster’ (2.3.5) (H8, 290, n. 9). 36 John Bartlett, A Complete Concordance or Verbal Index to Words, Phrases, and Passages in the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare, with a Supplementary Concordance to the Poems (London: Macmillan, 1966), 1221. 37 Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, ed. Foakes, 128, n. 36. 38 As Ronald W. Lightbown notes, ‘The exact significance of the collar has been much debated. A favourite theory is that it signifies or came to signify Souverayne, one of the mottoes of John’s son Henry of Lancaster. The only mediaeval writer to give an explanation of the device is the Valencian knight Joan Martorell, author of the chivalric novel Tirant lo Blanc. He was in England from 1437 to 1439, at the court of the Lancastrian king Henry VI, and in chapters 96 and 97 of his stately romance he declares that S was chosen as a device because no other single letter of the alphabet excels it in authority and perfection or in power to signify the highest things. And he cites four qualities that it signifies which in his original Catalan are sanctedat, saviesa, sapiencia, seynoria’. See Lightbown, Mediaeval European Jewellery: With a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992), 248. 39 See, to begin with, Nigel Morgan, ‘An SS Collar in the Devotional Context of the Shield of the Five Wounds’, in Jenny Stratford, ed., The Lancastrian Court: Proceedings of the 2001 Harlaxton Symposium (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2003), 147–62. 40 Lightbown, Mediaeval European Jewellery, 245–9. 41 In addition to the above-­listed complaints by Herschel Baker, Clifford Leach and others, recent Arden editor Gordon McMullan notes that in the play, ‘chronology is disrupted as historical events are shunted around for dramatic effect’ (Introduction, H8, 2). 42 See Benjamin, ‘On the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress’, The Arcades Project, 463. 43 This view also shifts the debate about the significance of stage directions from questions of authorship to considerations of



function. For a concise discussion, see Laurie Maguire, ‘The Value of Stage Directions’, in Dympna Callaghan and Suzanne Gossett, eds, Shakespeare in Our Time (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 149–52. 44 One way of historicizing this sense of contingency (that also supports Benjamin’s understanding of the baroque) might be to read it in relation to Luther’s critique of the deficient human will in relation to the sovereignty of God. In de servo arbitrio (The Bondage of the Will), Luther contrasts the ‘immutable, eternal and infallible will of God’ with ‘that contingent and mutable being’ that is human. 45 Louis Montrose, The Subject of Elizabeth: Authority, Gender, Representation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 62–4. See also Maev Kennedy, ‘Ring that could hold clue to Elizabeth I’, Guardian, 26 July 2002. https://www.theguardian. com/uk/2002/jul/26/humanities.monarchy?CMP=share_bt.

Chapter  5 1 For thoughtful comments on early versions of this paper, I’d like to thank Alice Dailey, Philip Lorenz, Jim Kearney, Bryan Givens, Pav Aulakh and Patricia Fumerton. 2 Lucy Munro, ‘Speaking History: Linguistic Memory and the Usable Past in the Early Modern History Play’, Huntington Library Quarterly 76.4 (2013): 519–40, 529; Brian Walsh, Shakespeare, the Queen’s Men, and the Elizabethan Performance of History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 3 Walsh, Shakespeare, 30. 4 Thomas Nashe, Pierce Pennilesse His Supplication to the Diuell (London: Abell Jeffres, 1592), F3r. 5 See, for instance, Paulina Kewes, ‘The Elizabethan History Play: A True Genre?’, in Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard, eds, A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works, four vols. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), II: 170–93; Barbara Ravelhofer and Theresa Grant, ‘Introduction’ to English Historical Drama, 1500–1660: Forms Outside the Canon (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).



6 G. K. Hunter, English Drama 1586–1642: The Age of Shakespeare (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 155. 7 Alain Badiou, ‘Rhapsody for the Theatre: A Short Philosophical Treatise’, trans. Bruno Bosteels, Theatre Survey 49.2 (2008): 187–238, 193. 8 Hunter, English Drama, 155. 9 Irving Ribner, The English History Play in the Age of Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1965), 5. 10 Kewes, ‘The Elizabethan History Play’, 188, 189. 11 Cyrus Mulready, ‘Making History in Q Henry V’, English Literary Renaissance 43.3 (2013): 478–513, 479. See also D. R. Woolf, Reading History in Early Modern England (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 12 E. M. W. Tillyard offers the classic discussion of Shakespeare’s relation to the so-­called Tudor myth in Shakespeare’s History Plays (New York: Macmillan, 1946), 29–32. Tillyard’s ultimate claim – that Shakespeare’s histories offer a largely uncritical vision of the Tudor myth – has been frequently and convincingly contested. See, for instance, Robert Ornstein, A Kingdom for a Stage: The Achievement of Shakespeare’s History Plays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972), where he argues that Shakespeare rarely offers ‘truisms and pieties’ about the Tudor myth (6). For a concise account of the debates around Shakespeare and the Tudor myth, see Chapter 2 of Warren Chernaik’s Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s History Plays (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 13 See Matthew Neufeld, ‘Putting the Past to Work; Working Through the Past’, Huntington Library Quarterly 76.4 (2013): 483–97, 493–4; Patrick Collinson, ‘John Stow and Nostalgic Antiquarianism’, in J. F. Merritt, ed., Imagining Early Modern London: Perceptions and Portrayals of the City from Stow to Strype, 1698–1720 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 27–51); Thomas Rist, Revenge Tragedy and the Drama of Commemoration in Reforming England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2008); Philip Baker, ‘Londons Liberty in Chains Discovered: The Levellers, the Civic Past, and Popular Protest in Civil War



London’, Huntington Library Quarterly 76.4 (2013): 559–87; Walsh, Shakespeare, 18. 14 Keith Thomas, The Perception of the Past in Early Modern England (London: University of London Press, 1984); Andy Wood, The Memory of the People (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 15 Philip Schwyzer, ‘Lees and Moonshine: Remembering Richard III, 1485–1635’, Renaissance Quarterly 63 (2010): 850–83, 863. 16 Schwyzer, ‘Lees and Moonshine’, 874. 17 Benjamin Griffin, Playing the Past: Approaches to English Historical Drama, 1385–1600 (London: D. S. Brewer, 2001), 73; David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (London: Macmillan, 1982). 18 William Shakespeare, King Richard III, ed. Antony Hammond (London: Arden, 1981); William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, King Henry VIII, ed. Gordon McMullen (London: Arden, 2000), 5.4.14–54, 56–62; William Shakespeare et al., Sir Thomas More, ed. John Jowett (London: Arden, 2011), sc.17, l.127. 19 Richard Dutton, ‘ “Methinks the truth should live from age to age”: The Dating and Contexts of Henry V’, in Paulina Kewes, ed., The Uses of History in Early Modern England (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 2006): 169–200. 20 Joel Altman, ‘ “Vile Participation”: The Amplification of Violence in the Theater of Henry V’, Shakespeare Quarterly 42.1 (1991): 1–32, 21. 21 Thomas Heywood, An Apology for Actors, ed. W. Cartwright (London: Shakespeare Society, 1841), 52–3. 22 Griffin, Playing the Past, 7. 23 Clear explanations of this method are found in Anthony Grafton, What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Canto Classics, 2012) and Timothy Hampton, Writing from History: The Rhetoric of Exemplarity in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990). 24 Altman, ‘Vile Participation’, 24. 25 See Willy Maley, ‘ “Let a Welsh correction teach you a good English condition”: Shakespeare, Wales, and the Critics’, in



Philip Schwyzer and Willy Maley, eds, Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), 177–90, 178. 26 Schwyzer, ‘Lees and Moonshine’, 851. 27 Hunter, English Drama, 155; Badiou, ‘Rhapsody for the Theatre’, 194. 28 Schwyzer, ‘Lees and Moonshine’, 876. 29 Ewan Fernie, ‘Action! Henry V’, in Hugh Grady and Terence Hawkes, eds, Presentist Shakespeares (New York: Routledge, 2007), 96–120, 100.

Chapter  6 1 Dating Troilus is complicated, and the print history of both plays is complex. Troilus was registered in 1603 and first printed in 1609. For the evidence on some extant version of Troilus in late 1601, see Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, ed. David Bevington, rev. ed. (London: Bloomsbury/Arden, 2015), 11. (Hereafter TC; subsequent references to the play and to its editorial apparatus are to this edition.) Pericles was first printed in quarto in 1609, but not included in a Folio until the second issue of the Third Folio in 1664. For variant versions and authorship, see Shakespeare, Pericles, ed. Suzanne Gossett (London: Arden, 2004), 10–38. (Hereafter Per; all subsequent references to the play and to its editorial apparatus are to this edition.) 2 Assigning a genre to Troilus and Cressida is made more difficult by its not being included in the catalogue of plays or table of contents in the 1623 First Folio, which give genre designations. (See the introduction to this volume for more about this problem.) The first page of Troilus’s text – inserted between the histories and tragedies in the First Folio – names it ‘The Tragedy of Troilus and Cressida’. It is listed among the tragedies in the Second Folio (1632) and Third Folio (1663). The quarto titles call it a ‘history’, and the preface to the reader in the 1609 quarto discusses it as ‘comedy’. Presumably the



‘comedy’ designation acknowledges the protagonists’ survival; this seems to have been important for John Fletcher’s notion of genre: for Fletcher, a play that ‘wants deaths’ is ‘no tragedie’. Fletcher, ‘To the Reader’, The Faithful Shepherdess (London: Bunion and Whalley, 1610), ¶2v. 3 The Rhetoric and Poetics of Aristotle, trans. W. Rhys Roberts and Ingram Bywater (New York: Modern Library, 1954), 225. Troilus and Cressida is notoriously generically mixed or undecidable; arguments have been rehearsed for tragicomedy, morality play, history and tragedy. For a summary, see TC, 5; Bevington concludes that Troilus is ‘an experimental play, characterized throughout by an intermingling of mode, tone, genre and style’ (5). 4 George Chapman and Arthur Hall had translated much of the Iliad in works first published in 1598 and 1581. 5 See Bevington, ‘Shakespeare’s Sources’, TC, 409–31. 6 Michel de Montaigne, Essayes . . . done into English . . . by John Florio (London: Blount, 1603), 432. Book 2, essay 36. 7 George Chapman, Seaven Books of the Iliades (London: Windet, 1598), 60–1. On the doubleness of the association that variably draws on Achilles’ heroism versus his Greek identity as Other in ‘Troy-­sympathizing Elizabethan England’, see Bevington, TC, 11–12. 8 On Gower’s archaism, see especially Michael Baird Saenger, ‘Pericles and the Burlesque of Romance’, in David Skeele, ed., Pericles: Critical Essays (New York: Garland, 2000), 191–204. 9 Supriya Chaudhuri remarks that in Pericles’ staging of the familiar romance tale of Apollonius of Tyre, its ‘retention of a basic plot or mythos enables a narrative resistance to time’. Chaudhuri, ‘Making Visible: Afterlives in Shakespeare’s Pericles’, in Martin Prodcházka et al., eds, Renaissance Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Renaissances: Proceedings of the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2013), 77–87, 80. 10 On Wilkins’ role in the dramatic text, see Gosson, Per, 54–70, and Lori Humphrey Newcomb, ‘The Sources of Romance, the Generation of Story, and the Patterns of Pericles Tales’, in Mary



Ellen Lamb and Valerie Wayne, eds, Staging Early Modern Romance: Prose Fiction, Dramatic Romance, and Shakespeare (New York: Routledge, 2009), 21–46. 11 For a discussion of how this prose version purports both to reflect the extant play and to serve as its source, see Newcomb, ‘Sources’. On the polychronous layering within Gower’s own poem, and especially within the print quarto version available in Shakespearean London (printed by Thomas Berthelette in 1532 and 1554), see R. F. Yeager. Yeager lays out how, ‘In Gower’s poem, the narrative fiction becomes the subject of what amounts to two running commentaries, each “speaking” in a distinct literary “voice” ’. Yeager, ‘Shakespeare as Medievalist: What it Means for Performing Pericles’, in Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray, eds, Shakespeare and the Middle Ages (London: McFarland, 2009), 215–31, 217. Yeager details how Gower’s Confessio includes both Middle English poetry, ‘usually highlighted in red ink’, and ‘rubricized’ Latin; Berthelette’s printing uses large black-letter type for Middle English, smaller black letter for Latin prose and roman type for Latin verse. Yeager’s analysis enriches the present discussion by drawing out how each ‘source’ points back to its own multivocal, polytemporal precursors. 12 A. D. Nuttall expounds on this opportunity for citational play, suggesting that ‘Shakespeare out-Homers Homer by staying in the middle, by refusing to take his story to any kind of satisfying conclusion’. Nuttall, ‘Action at a Distance: Shakespeare and the Greeks’, in Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor, eds, Shakespeare and the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 209–24, 216.   Consonant with the Prologue’s spurious disavowal of its debt to prior sources is the play’s scorn for venerability. Where the long experience and reiterative habits of Pericles’ ghostly Gower give him archival authority, Troilus’s Nestor is merely old. Ulysses snidely cites Nestor’s age as his most as laudable quality (‘most reverend for thy stretched-­out life’ [1.3.61–2]), and when Ulysses proclaims to Ajax that, ‘instructed by the antiquary times’, Nestor ‘must, he is, he cannot but be wise’ (2.3.245–6), Ulysses’ triple (and undemonstrated) insistence on the correlation of age and sagacity rings loudly hollow.



13 Jonson, ‘Ode to Himself’, Ben Jonson and the Cavalier Poets, ed. Hugh Maclean (New York: Norton, 1974), 88–9, line 21. Helen Cooper remarks the unusually intact transmission of the Pericles tale through various romances; see The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 14 On Pericles in relation to Christian transcendence, see esp. Robert Miola, Shakespeare and Classical Comedy: The Influence of Plautus and Terence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); Maurice Hunt, ‘Shakespeare’s Pericles and the Acts of the Apostles’, Christianity and Literature 49.3 (Spring 2000): 295–309; Howard Felperin, ‘This Great Miracle: Pericles’, in Skeele, ed., Pericles, 114–32; Mowat, ‘ “I tell you what mine Authors saye”: Pericles, Shakespeare, and Imitatio’, Archiv 240.155 (2003): 42–59. 15 Elizabeth Freund suggests that these vows show the lovers as ‘creatures of their word . . . their being . . . predicated on the rhetoricity of the word’. ‘ “Ariachne’s broken woof”: the rhetoric of citation in Troilus and Cressida’, in Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman, eds, Shakespeare and the Question of Theory (New York: Methuen, 1985), 19–36, 25. 16 Northrop Frye, Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), 60. 17 Giorgio Agamben, The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans, trans. Patricia Dailey (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), 82. 18 Agamben, The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 111. 19 Agamben, End, 114. 20 Janice Radway’s study of twentieth-­century romance novels compellingly articulates the appeal of romance reiteration to its audience, and its associated devaluing in cultures of innovation. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature, 2nd ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, [1984] 1991). 21 Chaudhuri reads the self-­conscious display of modes of telling to ‘embed[s] . . . the mimetic within the diegetic, as though portions of a play have been parceled out and offered as illustrative examples within a framing romance narrative’. Chaudhuri,



‘Making Visible’, 81. Kelly Jones remarks how the dynamics of staging further inflect the overlay of media: ‘the actor who represents Gower . . . can exploit his power to represent both the play and the play’s author by drawing attention to the character’s explicit theatrical fabrication’. See Jones, ‘ “The Quick and the Dead”: Performing the Poet Gower in Pericles’, in Driver and Ray, eds, Shakespeare and the Middle Ages, 201–14, 206. 22 Freund reads Troilus as ‘a meditation on the parasitism of texts and on the plight of a belated writer who knows all the stories have already been told’. ‘Rhetoric of Citation’, 34. 23 Heather James argues that in this play, ‘imitations hurt because they publicize the fact that the characters inhabit a play in which no originals exist’. Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 100. 24 TC, 145. 25 See Bevington, TC, 11. Reportedly Ben Jonson worried that he saw himself in Ajax. 26 Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood, Anachronic Renaissance (New York: Zone Books, 2010); Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009); Julian Yates, Error, Misuse, Failure: Object Lessons from the English Renaissance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003); Jonathan Goldberg and Madhavi Menon, ‘Queering History’, PMLA 120.5 (2005): 1608–17. 27 Frye, Secular. 28 On perpetually receding deferrals of source in Hellenic romance, see Elizabeth Archibald, ‘Ancient Romance’, in Corinne Saunders, ed., A Companion to Romance (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 10–25. 29 For a reading of the ‘language of recognition’ crafted by linguistic repetition in the scene of Pericles and Marina’s reunion, see Inga-Stina Ewbank, ‘ “My name is Marina”: The Language of Recognition’, in Philip Hunter, I.-S. Ewbank and G. K. Hunter, eds, Shakespeare’s Styles: Essays in Honour of Kenneth Muir (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 111–30.



30 Freund writes that the play ‘persistently calls attention to its intertextuality, its anachronicity, its dependence upon a prodigious literary and rhetorical legacy’. ‘Rhetoric’, 21. 31 Homer, The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles (New York: Penguin, 1990), 3.202. Subsequent citations of the Iliad taken from this edition. 32 Nuttall takes the Homeric scene rather differently. Rather than stressing Helen’s affective investment, Nuttall finds that ‘the essence of the episode is a comparative display of figures’, showing the relative stature of Agamemnon, Odysseus and Ajax. Nuttall, ‘Action’, 216. Relevant for the present discussion of derivativeness, this makes the operation of the Shakespearean allusion a comparison to a comparison. 33 Or perhaps Cressida is newly come to Ilium. The play’s lack of explanation for why Troilus and Cressida fall in love at the moment they do is part of the temporal dislocation related to citationality. If the characters are only citations, they resist our imputing experience to them beyond what we see. (Strikingly, this play’s characters hardly discuss their past.) John Bayley sees in this a contrast between Shakespearean plays whose characters operate in a way that ‘implies the presence of all the hours and years [their] consciousness has accumulated’, and Troilus, where ‘there is neither past nor future: everything takes place in and ends in, the present’, ‘the headless and senseless trunk of an action, devoid of the reality which can only come from knowledge of what went before and must come after’. Bayley, ‘Time and the Trojans’, Essays in Criticism 25 (1975): 55–73; 55, 57, 58. 34 Thomas Greene, The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press), 18. 35 Greene, Light in Troy, 10. 36 Rosalie Colie describes Troilus as reversing Shakespeare’s usual process of ‘animating his literary clichés into actual characters’, instead ‘revers[ing] that process, to show how human situations can be stripped of their personal and general meanings to be no more . . . than the clichés with which literature presents us’. Shakespeare’s Living Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 322.



37 Linda Charnes, Notorious Identity: Materializing the Subject in Shakespeare (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 84. Charnes contends that in Troilus and Cressida, ‘characters find themselves and one another etiolated by their own citationality, by a prior textual existence that threatens always to turn them from mimetic into rhetorical figures for others to use’ (70–1). On allusion rendering the characters ‘versions’ of themselves, see Freund, who writes that ‘the play . . . persistently calls attention to its intertextuality, its anachronicity, its dependence upon a prodigious literary and rhetorical legacy’. ‘Rhetoric’, 21. 38 Montaigne, Essayes, 432. 39 Charnes, Notorious Identity, 74. 40 Newcomb, ‘Sources’, 26. See also Helen Hackett, ‘ “Gracious be the Issue”: Maternity and Narrative in Shakespeare’s Late Plays’, in James Knowles and Jennifer Richards, eds, Shakespeare’s Late Plays: New Readings, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1999), 25–39. The danger of incest comes with romance’s focus on lost children who find their families before they are recognized. 41 Statutes of the Realm: 1628–80, ed. John Raithby (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1819), 226. 42 Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 10. 43 John Downes, Roscius Anglicanus (London: Downes, 1708), 17; C. B. Young, ‘The Stage-History of Pericles’, quoted in Gossett, Per, 4. 44 An Exact Abridgment, ed. William Hughes (London: Starkey and Bassett, 1663), t.p. 45 On Dryden’s complex valorization/disavowal of Shakespeare, see especially Taylor, Reinventing, and Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation, and Authorship, 1660–1769 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). 46 Dryden, Troilus and Cressida, Or, Truth Found Too Late, in The Works of John Dryden, gen. ed. Alan Roper, 20 vols (Berkeley: University of California Press), vol XIII ed. Maximillian Novak, 1984, 217–356. Subsequent references to this play are from this edition.



47 The play was entered in the Stationers’ Register on 14 April 1679 and performed around that time at Dorset Garden. See Novak, Dryden, 497. 48 Novak adds that contemporary audiences linked the drama to not only the Exclusion Crisis centred around the king’s brother James, but also to scandals surrounding the Duchess of Portsmouth, a mistress of the king. Novak writes that ‘during the time of the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis . . . when Troilus is made to defend the virtue of Cressida in a violent quarrel with his brother Hector, the audience could not help but be reminded of another pair of royal brothers and the way a mistress was helping to destroy everyone’s peace of mind’. Novak, Dryden, 518. 49 Novak, Dryden, 498. 50 Andrew Sharp, ‘Lilburne, John (1615?–1657)’, in H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online ed., ed. David Cannadine, October 2006, www. oxforddnb.com/view/article/16654 (accessed 2 April 2017). On Lilburne, see also Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (New York: Penguin, 1972). 51 Sharp, ‘Lilburne’. 52 Many modern-­day readers of the Iliad find the Trojans more admirable than the Greeks. Dryden, however, suggested (perhaps tongue-­in-cheek) in a dedication of the Aeneas to the Earl of Mulgrave that ‘the Heroe of Homer was a Grecian, of Virgil a Roman, of Tasso an Italian’. The Works of Virgil . . . translated into English Verse by Mr Dryden (London: Tonson, 1697), sig. (b) 2. 53 Heather James writes that ‘in such a history as that experienced by the Troy legend, authority and identity . . . do not accrue, stabilize, [or] deepen’. James, Shakespeare’s Troy, 89. 54 David Quint, Inside ‘Paradise Lost’ (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), 1; Suzanne Wofford, The Choice of Achilles: The Ideology of Figure in the Epic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992).



Chapter  7 1 George Chapman, All Fools (London, 1605), sig. d3r. 2 Chapman, May Day (London, 1611), 48. 3 Michael Drayton, Idea (London, 1599), sig. f2v. 4 Barnabe Barnes, A Divine Centurie of Spirituall Sonnets (London, 1595), sig. a4r. 5 John Marston, Metamorphosis of Pigmalion’s Image (London, 1598), 13. 6 1596 represents the ‘best guess’ date for the play, known to be sometime between 1594 and 1597, by Martin Wiggins and Catherine Richardson, in British Drama 1533–1642: A Catalogue, 10 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011– ) III: 320. Prior to Wiggins, the scholarly consensus was 1594/5. See H. R. Woudhuysen’s edition (from which all Love’s Labour’s Lost quotations are drawn) (London: Arden, 1998), 59. 7 Drayton, Idea; William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones (London: Thomson, [1997] 2002), 175. 8 William Shakespeare, The comick masque of Pyramus and Thisbe. As it is Perform’d at the Theatre in Lincoln’s-Inn Fields (London: W. Mears, 1716), 12. 9 For an account of these revisions, see John Kerrigan, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost and Shakespearean Revision’, Shakespeare Quarterly 33.3 (Autumn, 1982): 337–9. 10 Three appear in The Passionate Pilgrim (London, 1599) and one in Englands Helicon (London, 1600). 11 Walter Pater, Appreciations (London, Macmillan, 1901), 161. 12 Woudhuysen, LLL, 13. 13 Jackson Barry, ‘Poem or Speech? The Sonnet as Dialogue in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Romeo and Juliet’, Papers on Language and Literature 19.1 (1983): 13–36, 22. 14 Paul Memmo, ‘Poetry of the Stilnovisti and Love’s Labour’s Lost’, Comparative Literature 18.1 (Winter 1966): 1–15, 9. Anne Righter Barton, writing as Bobbyann Roesen, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare Quarterly 4 (1953): 411–26, 418. 15 Michael Drayton, Ideas Mirrour (London, 1594), sig. h2r.



16 Louis Montrose, Curious-Knotted Garden: The Forms, Themes, and Contexts of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (Salzburg: Salzburg Studies In English Literature, 1977), 105 and ff. 17 John Weever, Epigrams (London, 1599), sig. e1v. 18 Weever, Epigrams, sig. d3v. 19 From William Rankins, Seaven Satyres (London, 1598), sig b2v. 20 William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. Harold Brooks (London: Arden, 1979). 21 Woudhuysen, LLL, 84. 22 Hemmings, Phillips, and ‘ten of their fellows, his majesty’s grooms of the chamber and Players’ (spelling modernized) were paid by the crown for attending the Spanish ambassadors the prior year. E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, vol. 4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), 169. 23 Thomas Dekker, The Wonderful Year (London, 1605), sig. A2v. 24 Robert Greene, Perimedes the Blacke-­smith (London: 1588), sig. a3r. 25 George Peele, Old Wives’ Tale (London, 1595), sig. e1r. 26 John Lyly, Endymion, ed. David Bevington (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996). Modern editors tend to set this as a quatrain with a two-­syllable third line rather than a couplet, with breaks at ‘lodge’, ‘slept’, ‘crept’ and ‘fodge’. The original is set as prose. Given the difficulty of the metre and the realities of performance, this may be a distinction without a difference. 27 A search of EEBO’s currently digitized texts turns up Arthur Hall as the only other poet to use the word ‘fodge’ in the period. Bevington suggests ‘fadge’, but agrees it is a ‘desperate word choice’ (146, 29n.). 28 Ben Jonson, Every Man In His Humour, ed. C. H. Herford and Percy Simpson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927). All Jonson quotations are drawn from this edition. 29 See, for instance, ‘The perfect object of the purest sight’, Piers Gaveston (London, 1594), sig. d4r. 30 Jonson’s authorship of the revisions to the Spanish Tragedy has been disputed by Brian Vickers (‘Identifying Shakespeare’s Additions to The Spanish Tragedy’, Shakespeare 8.1 [April



2012]: 13–43), Douglas Bruster (‘Shakespearean Spellings and Handwriting in the Additional Passages Printed in the 1602 Spanish Tragedy’, Notes of Queries 60.3 [Sept. 2013]: 420–24), Warren Stevenson (‘Shakespeare’s Hand in the Spanish Tragedy, 1602’, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 8.2 [Spring 1968]: 307–32) and D. H. Craig (‘Authorial Styles and the Frequencies of Very Common Words: Jonson, Shakespeare, and the Additions to The Spanish Tragedy’, Style 96.2 [Summer 1992]: 199–220). Nonetheless, the play has a different relevance in 1598 than 1605. 31 Dekker, Satiro-­mastix (London, 1602), sig. a3r.

Chapter  8 1 Miguel de Cervantes, The History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-­errant, Don-Quixote of the Mancha, trans. Thomas Shelton (London, 1612), ¶3r–­v; Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, ed. Michael Hattaway (London: Ernest Benn, 1969), preface, 1, 3–5, 6, 16–17, 22–8. All subsequent citations are to these editions. 2 See Barbara Fuchs, The Poetics of Piracy: Emulating Spain in English Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 41–5. 3 For stimulating accounts of the play that have helped to shape my thinking here, see Jeffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 21–6; Janette Dillon, ‘ “Is Not All the World Mile End, Mother?”: The Blackfriars Theater, the City of London, and The Knight of the Burning Pestle’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 9 (1997): 127–48; Joshua S. Smith, ‘Reading Between the Acts: Satire and the Interludes in The Knight of the Burning Pestle’, Studies In Philology 109.4 (Fall 2012): 474–95; Fuchs, Poetics, 39–54. I am also grateful to Sarah Dustagheer, Adele Thomas and Frances Marshall for ongoing conversations about The Knight. 4 R. A. Foakes, ed., Henslowe’s Diary, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 200, 201, 202, 203, 296.



5 See, for instance, 2.260–70; 3.291–302; 4.27–51; 5.267–77. 6 On ‘The History of Richard Whittington’ see Edward Arber, ed., A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1554–1604 A.D., 5 vols. (London: privately printed, 1876), III: 282. The play would have been performed at the Fortune playhouse. 7 For example, the reference may be to the lost Edward I play Longshanks, first performed by the Admiral’s Men in August 1595. See Martin Wiggins in association with Catherine Richardson, British Drama 1533–1642: An Anthology, 10 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011– ), III: 296 (#1007). 8 Foakes, 226; Wiggins, British Drama, 5: 212–13 (#1471); Wiggins gives as limits 1599–1606. On this play, see also Misha Teramura, ‘The Bold Beauchamps’, in Lost Plays Database, ed. Roslyn L. Knutson, David McInnis and Matthew Steggle (www.lostplays.org). Eva Griffith prefers to identify Jane Shore with Heywood’s Edward IV, first performed by Derby’s Men in 1599, which features Jane in its subplot: see A Jacobean Company and its Playhouse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 74. 9 Wiggins dates it to early 1607; see British Drama, V: 381–4; #1534. 10 Wiggins, British Drama, IV: 408–13; #1531; Wiggins gives as limits 1601–7. 11 Richard Thornberry, ‘A Seventeenth-­century Revival of Mucedorus in London before 1610’, Shakespeare Quarterly 28 (1977): 362–4 12 Foakes, ed., Henslowe’s Diary, 182, 203; Edel Semple, ‘The Critical Backstory’, in Thomas Rist, ed., The Spanish Tragedy: A Critical Companion (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 21–52, 22–9; Frank Marcham, The King’s Office of the Revels 1610–1622: Fragments of Documents in the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum (London: Frank Marcham, 1925), 10–15, 32–3. Allusions in John Marston’s The Malcontent suggest that the King’s Men performed a play featuring Heironimo, the hero of The Spanish Tragedy, c. 1603, and it is listed among the plays of the King’s Men in the list published by Marcham (see above, n. 8). An elegy for Burbage on his death in 1619 lists among his roles ‘ould Hieronymoe’: see John Munro, ed., The Shakspere Allusion Book, 2 vols. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1909), I: 272.



13 Smith, ‘Reading Between the Acts’, 476. 14 Hattaway, ed., Knight, xv. 15 Dillon, ‘Is Not’, 130. 16 Alex Davis, Chivalry and Romance in the English Renaissance (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003), 128. 17 Davis, Chivalry, 3. 18 C. J. Sisson, Lost Plays of Shakespeare’s Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936), 12–79. 19 Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry, ed. Geoffrey Shepherd, rev. R. W. Maslen (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 110–11. 20 For a summary, see Smith, ‘Reading Between the Acts’, 475 n. 4. 21 John Marston, Parasitaster, or The Fawn, ed. David A. Blostein (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1978), 5.1.0SD; Thomas Middleton, Your Five Gallants, ed. Ralph Alan Cohen with John Jowett, in Thomas Middleton: Collected Works, gen. eds Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), Interim 1, Interim 2. 22 For more detailed discussion of the Interludes, see Smith, ‘Reading Between the Acts’, who views them as a constituting a narrative in themselves. 23 Shelton, trans., History, D1v–D2r. 24 The classic articulation of the first position is that of Alfred Harbage in Shakespeare and the Rival Traditions (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 108. The second position is set out by Andrew Gurr in The Shakespearean Stage, 1575–1642 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 144, and is retained in Gurr’s expanded and revised fourth edition (2009). For further critique, see Smith, ‘Reading Between the Acts’, 477–8. 25 The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Full of Mirth and Delight (London, 1635); N. W. Bawcutt, The Control and Censorship of Caroline Drama: The Records of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels 1623–73 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 198. 26 See Lawrence Stone, ed., ‘Companies of Players Entertained by the Earl of Cumberland and Lord Clifford, 1607–39’, Malone



Society Collections 5 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, [1958] 1960): 17–28, 26. 27 Richard Brome, The Sparagus Garden, ed. Julie Sanders, Richard Brome Online (www.hrionline.ac.uk/brome, 28 March 2017). 28 ‘Troilus and Cressida: The Perils of Presentism’, in Hugh Grady and Terence Hawkes, eds, Presentist Shakespeares (London: Routledge, 2007), 164–83, 170.

Chapter  9 1 See, for example, Janet Adelman, The Common Liar: An Essay on Antony and Cleopatra (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 151–4; also David Kaula, ‘The Time Sense of Antony and Cleopatra’, Shakespeare Quarterly 15.3 (1964): 211–23. In Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1982), David Kastan considers the play in the context of the temporality of romance (127–31). 2 See Rebecca Bushnell, Tragic Time in Drama, Film and Videogames: The Future in the Instant (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); this essay draws on some parts of that book and expands suggestions made in Bushnell, ‘Tragedy and Temporality’, PMLA 129 (2014): 783–9. See also Northrop Frye, Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967); Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time; Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (New York and London: Routledge, 2012); and Scott Maisano, ‘Now’, in Henry S. Turner, ed., Early Modern Theatricality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 368–85. 3 Frye, Fools of Time, 3. See also Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time, 80. 4 Wagner, Shakespeare, 79. 5 Wagner, Shakespeare, 13. 6 Kaula, ‘The Time Sense of Antony and Cleopatra’, 212. 7 Unless otherwise noted, all citations from Antony and Cleopatra are from the Arden Shakespeare edition, third series, ed. John Wilders (London: Arden, 1995).



8 See Phyllis Rackin, Shakespeare and Women (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), Chap. 4. 9 See Phyllis Rackin, ‘Shakespeare’s Boy Cleopatra, the Decorum of Nature, and the Golden World of Poetry’, PMLA 82.2 (1972): 201–12. On the idea of the ‘wormhole’ in early modern texts, see Linda Charnes, ‘Anticipating Nostalgia: Finding Temporal Logic in a Textual Anomaly’, Textual Culture 4.1 (2009): 72–83, 76. 10 Janet Adelman, A Common Liar: An Essay on ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 52. 11 See also Jyotsna Singh, ‘The Politics of Empathy in Antony and Cleopatra: A View from Below’, in Richard Dutton and Jean Howard, eds, A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works: Vol 1, The Tragedies (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), 411–29; and Ania Loomba, ‘ “Travelling Thoughts”: Theatre and the Space of the Other’, in John Drakakis, ed., New Casebooks: Antony and Cleopatra (London: Macmillan, 1994), 279–307, on the play’s dislocating effects, in both space and time. 12 Bushnell, ‘Temporality and Tragedy’, 785. 13 See Michael Neill, ed., The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 23. 14 On the temporality of the early modern play text, see Bushnell, ‘Tragedy and Temporality’, 78, as well as Bushnell, ‘The Ends of Time in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus’, in Joseph Candido, ed., The Text, the Play, and the Globe: Essays on Literary Influence in Shakespeare’s World and his Work in Honor of Charles R. Forker (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016), 23–41. 15 Rackin, ‘Boy Cleopatra’, 201. 16 ‘Note on the Text’, in William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, ed. Ania Loomba (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), 116–7. 17 Neill, ed., Anthony and Cleopatra, 133–5. 18 Neill, ed., Anthony and Cleopatra, 132. 19 Margreta de Grazia and Peter Stallybrass, ‘The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text’, Shakespeare Quarterly 44.3 (1993): 255–83, 263.



20 Neill, ed., Anthony and Cleopatra, 133. 21 At several points it becomes ‘Cleopater’; see 346–7, in Mr. William Shakepeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, facsimile by Helge Kökeritz (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954). 22 James E. Hirsh, ‘Act Divisions in the Shakespeare First Folio’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 96.2 (2002): 219–56. 23 This is also true of Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens and Troilus and Cressida, among the tragedies. Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar do have act and scene divisions. Hirsh concludes that act and scene divisions were omitted in Antony and Cleopatra because the printer ran out of time. 24 In Gary Taylor and John Jowett, Shakespeare Reshaped 1606–1623 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), Chap. 1. See also the exhaustive account by Wilfred T. Jewkes, Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays 1583–1616 (Reprint, New York: MS Press, [1958] 1972): he concludes that from the seventy-­four plays produced by the adult companies from 1591 to 1607, ‘not a single one of these is divided [into acts], except the five by Jonson’ (98), while he observes that ‘act division was the established practice of the private theaters’ (99). 25 Taylor, Shakespeare Reshaped, 30–2. 26 For this discussion I am indebted to Claire M. L. Bourne, ‘ “A Play and No Play”: Printing the Performance in Early Modern England’ (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2013). Bourne’s dissertation provides a comprehensive discussion of how the ‘scene’ evolved through the printed playbook as printers collaborated with players in constructing an idea of a scene. 27 See, for example, the argument of James Hirsh, The Structure of Shakespearean Scenes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981); and Charles S. Hallett and Elaine Hallett, Analyzing Shakespeare’s Action: Scene versus Sequence (Cambridge: Cambridge Univesity Press, 1991). 28 Bourne, ‘A Play and No Play’, 46. 29 Samuel Johnson, ‘Preface to Shakespeare’, in Shakespeare Criticism: A Selection 1623–1840, ed. D. Nichol Smith (London: Oxford University Press, [1916] 1961), 95.



30 Robert B. Hamm Jr., ‘Rowe’s Shakespear (1709) and the Tonson House Style’, College Literature 31.3 (2004): 179–205. 31 Nicholas Rowe, ed., The Works of William Shakespear in Six Volumes Adorn’d with Cuts: Vol. 6 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1709). 32 Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History, from the Restoration to the Present (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989), 80; also see Bourne, ‘A Play and No Play’, Chap. 4, on scene and place, and 295–9 on Rowe in particular. 33 Alexander Pope, ed., The Works of Shakespear: In Six Volumes, ‘Preface:’ in Volume 1 (London: Jacob Tonson, 1725), xvii. 34 Pope, Works of Shakespear, xxii. 35 Johnson, ‘Preface to Shakespeare’, 95. 36 See Howard Horace Furness, A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1907), 229. 37 David Bevington, ed., Antony and Cleopatra: The New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 82. 38 Neill, ed., Anthony and Cleopatra, 135. 39 Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, eds, Antony and Cleopatra: The RSC Shakespeare (New York: Modern Library, 2009), xxiii.

Chapter  10 1 All Shakespeare quotations are cited from the Arden Third Series editions. 2 Heather James’ work is especially insightful on the ‘Troy myth’ in Shakespeare: see ‘Dido’s Ear: Tragedy and the Politics of Response’, Shakespeare Quarterly 52.3 (2001): 360–82, as well as Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). 3 See, among others, Roger A. Mason, ‘Scotching the Brut: Politics, History and National Myth in Sixteenth-Century Britain’, in Roger A. Mason, ed., Scotland and England, 1286–1815 (Edinburgh: J. Donald, 1987), 60–84.



4 Johann P. Sommerville, ed., King James VI and I: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 42. 5 For representative interpretations of the Player’s speech, see A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy (New York: Fawcett, [1904] 1968); Harry Levin, ‘An Explication of the Player’s Speech’, in The Question of Hamlet (New York: Viking, 1959); and Arthur Johnston, ‘The Player’s Speech in Hamlet’, Shakespeare Quarterly 13.1 (1962): 21–30. F-only passages in Hamlet will be marked by curled brackets, since the Arden edition is a Q2-only text. 6 Margreta de Grazia, ‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 65, 66. De Grazia’s impressive book does not expand on the insights quoted above, as she goes on to say that ‘the play is more interested in the brutal part played by the Roman Brutus’ than the mythological Brute (67). 7 Raphael Holinshed, The Second Booke of the Historie of England (London, 1587), 7. 8 Michel Serres, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 60. 9 For the context, see James P. Bednarz, Shakespeare and the Poets’ War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001). 10 George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (London, 1569). Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/PutPoes.html), pp. 183–4. 11 See de Grazia, ‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet, for a thorough and powerful analysis. In earlier scholarship, see Lilian Winstanley, Hamlet and the Scottish Succession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921); and more recently, Stuart Kurland, ‘Hamlet and the Scottish Succession?’, SEL 34.2 (1994): 279–300. 12 For discussions of Hamlet’s composition and performance dates, see William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor (London: Arden, 2016), 36–60. On the matter of James VI/I’s succession: James and his supporters had been working to counter the attacks on his claims launched by Robert Parsons in his 1594[5] publication of A Conference about the Next Succession to the Crown of England. See Peter Holmes, ‘The



Authorship and Early Reception of A Conference About the Next Succession to the Crown of England’, Historical Journal 23.2 (1980): 415–29, and Peter Lake, ‘The King (The Queen) and the Jesuit: James Stuart’s “True Law of Free Monarchies” in Context/s’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 14 (2004): 243–60. 13 Even critics as perceptive as James L. Calderwood have assumed that ‘had it [the Danish succession] proceeded normally, “Hamlet” would have succeeded “Hamlet” ’ (To Be and Not To Be: Negation and Metadrama in ‘Hamlet’ [New York: Columbia University Press, 1983], 180 [my emphasis]; Hamlet’s would have been ‘the true succession’, 181 [my emphasis]). But what is ‘normal’ and ‘true’ about succession in Hamlet, I am arguing here, is contested throughout. 14 Arthur Golding, The. xv. bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis, translated oute of Latin into English meeter (London, 1567), B3v–­r. 15 Steve Sohmer, Shakespeare’s Mystery Play (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 217–47, argues, using not entirely persuasive calendrical calculations, that Hamlet did not succeed to the throne because he was illegitimate. 16 It is thirty years in both Q2 and F, but not in Q1, where the skull ‘hath bin here this dozen yeare, / Let me see, I ever since our last king Hamlet / Slew Fortenbrasse in combat’ (Ir). 17 Lamord/Normandy are not mentioned in Q1. Q2 reads ‘Lamord’; F reads ‘Lamound’. 18 De Grazia, ‘Hamlet’ without Hamlet, 63; see her entire discussion, pp. 45–65. Claudius says he will send Hamlet to England ‘For the demand of our neglected tribute’ (3.1.169); that since England’s ‘cicatrice looks raw and red / After the Danish sword, and thy free awe / Pays homage to us, thou mayst not coldly set / Our sovereign process’ (4.3.58–61); and Hamlet confirms that ‘England [the king] was his [Claudius’s] faithful tributary’ (5.2.39). The ‘tribute’, as has often been noted, is the Danegeld paid by Anglo-Saxon kings to the superior Danish. 19 See Howard Nenner, The Right to be King (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995) on concepts of succession from the Tudor period forward; and Christopher Hill,



‘The Norman Yoke’, in Puritanism and Revolution (New York: Schocken, 1958). 20 On succession through inheritance having already been established by the time of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s sources, see David Norbrook, ‘Macbeth and the Politics of Historiography’, in Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker, eds, Politics of Discourse: The Literature and History of Seventeenth-­century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 78–116; J. H. Stevenson, ‘The Law of the Throne: Tanistry and the Introduction of the Law of Primogeniture: A Note on the Succession of the Kings of Scotland from Kenneth MacAlpin to Robert Bruce’, The Scottish Historical Review 25.97 (1927): 1–12; and Albert Rolls, ‘Macbeth and the Uncertainties of the Succession Law’, Shakespeare Bulletin 52.2 (2002): 43–4, 48. 21 For a stimulating reading of the erasure of the mother in the plays, see Janet Adelman, Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays, ‘Hamlet’ to ‘The Tempest’ (New York: Routledge, 1992). 22 I am indebted here to Eviatar Zerubavel for many of these ideas. See his Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003) and Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Chapter  11 1 Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam, ed. Ramona Wray (London: Methuen, 2012). All references are to this edition and cited in the text. 2 On gender and politics, see Laurie J. Shannon, ‘The Tragedie of Mariam: Cary’s Critique of the Terms of Founding Social Discourse’, English Literary Renaissance 24.1 (1994): 135–53; Karen L. Raber, ‘Gender and the Political Subject in The Tragedy of Mariam’, SEL 35.1 (1995): 321–43. On race, see Dympna Callaghan, ‘Re-­reading Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedie of Mariam, Faire Queene of Jewry’, in Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker, eds, Women, ‘Race’, and Writing in the Early Modern Period (London: Routledge, 1994), 163–77; Kimberly



Anne Coles, ‘Moral Constitution: Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam and the Color of Blood’, in Ania Loomba and Melissa E. Sanchez, eds, Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race, and Sexuality (London: Routledge, 2016), 149–64. On divorce, see Susan B. Iwanisziw, ‘Conscience and the Disobedient Female Consort in the Closet Dramas of John Milton and Elizabeth Cary’, Milton Studies 36 (1998): 109–22; Shari Zimmerman, ‘Disaffection, Dissimulation, and the Uncertain Ground of Silent Dismission: Juxtaposing John Milton and Elizabeth Cary’, ELH 66.3 (1999): 553–89. And on religion, see Erin E. Kelly, ‘Mariam and Early Modern Discourses of Martyrdom’, in Heather Wolfe, ed., The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary, 1613–1680 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 35–52. 3 Lara Dodds and Margaret Ferguson, ‘Sidney, Cary, Cavendish: Playwrights of a Printed Page and a Future Stage’, in Arthur Kinney and Thomas Hopper, eds, A Companion to Renaissance Drama (London: Blackwell), forthcoming. For contextualization of The Tragedy of Mariam in the traditions of ‘closet drama’, see Karen L. Raber, Dramatic Difference: Gender, Class and Genre in the Early Modern Closet Drama (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001); Marta Straznicky, Privacy, Playreading, and Women’s Closet Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). Michelle M. Dowd describes Cary’s potential debts to contemporary performance traditions in ‘Dramaturgy and the Politics of Space in The Tragedy of Mariam’, Renaissance Drama 44.1 (2016): 101–22. See also Daniel Cadman, Sovereigns and Subjects in Early Modern Neo-Senecan Drama (Burlington: Ashgate, 2015), 175–92. 4 Jonas Barish, ‘Language for the Study; Language for the Stage’, The Elizabethan Theatre 12 (1987): 19–43, 20. See also Alexander M. Witherspoon, The Influence of Robert Garnier on Elizabethan Drama (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924). 5 Curtis Perry, ‘Seneca and English Political Culture’, in R. Malcolm Smuts, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Age of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 306–21; 316, 317. 6 Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger’s Privilege (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 23.



7 Maurice Jacques Valency, The Tragedies of Herod and Mariamne (New York: Columbia University Press, 1940). 8 Braden, Renaissance Tragedy, 158. 9 Braden, Renaissance Tragedy, 166. In addition to the dramatization of jealousy and wife-­murder, Braden cites the Iudean/Indian crux (5.2) as evidence of Othello’s debts to these plays. If we accept the F1 reading ‘base Iudean’, then Othello compares his situation to Herod’s after Mariam’s murder. 10 For discussion of the play’s structure, see Barbara K. Lewalski, Writing Women in Jacobean England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 194. 11 Katherine O. Acheson, ‘ “Outrage your face”: Anti-­theatricality and Gender in Early Modern Closet Drama by Women’, Early Modern Literary Studies 6.3 (2001), para 10. 12 Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (New York: Routledge, 2012), 12, 13. 13 David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1982), 79. 14 Dowd, ‘Dramaturgy and the Politics of Space’, 107. For the concept of the ‘unscene’, Dowd draws upon Marjorie Garber, ‘  “The Rest is Silence”: Ineffability and the “Unscene” in Shakespeare’s Plays’, in Peter S. Hawkins and Ann Howland Schotter, eds, Ineffability: Naming the Unnamable from Dante to Beckett (New York: AMS, 1984), 35–50. 15 Braden, Renaissance Tragedy, 40. 16 William M. Hamlin, ‘Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam and the Critique of Pure Reason’, Early Modern Literary Studies 9.1 (2003): 1–22. 17 Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays of Montaigne, trans. Donald M. Frame (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958), 174. 18 For an overview of the social and physiological functions of the passions in early modern thought, see Susan James, Passion and Action: The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1–25.



19 Marta Straznicky, ‘ “Profane Stoical Paradoxes”: The Tragedie of Mariam and Sidnean Closet Drama’, English Literary Renaissance 24.1 (1994): 104–34, 124. 20 Braden, Renaissance Tragedy, 62. 21 Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time, 79–80. 22 Curtis Perry, ‘Seneca and the Modernity of Hamlet’, Illinois Classical Studies 40.2 (2015): 407–29, 426. 23 Lyn Bennett, ‘ “Written on my tainted brow”: Woman and the Exegetical Tradition in The Tragedy of Mariam’, Christianity and Literature 51.1 (2001): 5–28, 5. 24 Straznicky, ‘ “Profane Stoical Paradoxes” ’, 127; Gwinne Kennedy, Just Anger: Representing Women’s Anger in Early Modern England (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000), 67; Callaghan, ‘Re-­reading’, 175; Shannon, ‘Cary’s Critique’, 51. 25 Danielle Clarke, ‘ “This Domestic Kingdome or Monarchy”: Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam and the Resistance to Patriarchal Government’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 10.1 (1998): 179–200, 184. 26 Herod negatively compares Salome’s beauty to Mariam’s (4.7.101–8). Likewise, Doris understands her fallen status as a divorced wife in relation to beauty (2.3.21–32). 27 Edith Snook, Women, Beauty and Power in Early Modern England (Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 2–6. 28 Only the unmarried Graphina escapes hatred. For further discussion of the cultural illegibility of a wife’s hatred, see Kennedy, Just Anger, 51–74. 29 Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 3. 30 Ahmed’s central illustration of the affect alien is the figure of the feminist killjoy. Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 50–87. 31 Kastan, Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time, 7, 79, 80. 32 Emily R. Wilson, Mocked with Death: Tragic Overliving from Sophocles to Milton (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2004), 4, 7.



Chapter  12 1 William Shakespeare, King Lear, ed. R. A. Foakes (London: Arden, 1997). All subsequent quotations from King Lear are drawn from this edition. 2 This speech exists only in the Folio version of King Lear. It is the Fool’s only soliloquy. 3 For a discussion of James Stuart’s supposed descent from the legendary ancient British line of kings which included Lear, see Philip Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 151–74. Schwyzer argues that this alteration would have been particularly alarming for those with considerable knowledge of James Stuart’s ancestry: ‘According to Harry’s 1604 Genealogy, “Ragan” and Henwyn, Duke of Cornwall, were James Stuart’s direct ancestors. Indeed, their union was of more than average significance, for it was through them that the bloodlines of Locrine, first king of England, and Camber, first ruler of Wales, were reunited. It is not only James’s descent from Brutus but the presumption that England and Wales should have a common ruler that is called into question by the untimely deaths of Cornwall and Regan’ (161–2). 4 This has also been observed by Schwyzer: ‘The utter failure of blood to provide a bridge between the present and the past is witnessed in the extinction of the royal bloodline at the close of the play’ (Literature, Nationalism, and Memory, 161). 5 Wilfrid Perrett identifies over fifty known versions of the Lear story between Geoffrey of Monmouth and Shakespeare, appearing in texts as diverse as the Gesta romanorum and Layamon’s Brut. See Perrett, The Story of King Lear from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Shakespeare (London: Johnson, [1904] 1970). All of them are remarkably similar in terms of the narrative, describing Lear’s division of his kingdom, his exile of his youngest daughter, his subsequent alienation by his elder two daughters and his eventual restoration through the military intervention of his youngest daughter. For a detailed discussion of what Lear owes to Holinshed and other sources, see Richard Dutton, ‘Shakespeare and British History’, in Paulina Kewes, Ian



W. Archer and Felicity Heal, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 527–42, and Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare (New York: Routledge, 1975), vii. Bullough draws together a variety of kinds of sources for the play, but is most interested in the anonymous play King Leir, arguing that it is the primary source for Lear (276–84). For a detailed overview of Shakespeare’s knowledge of King Leir, see Richard Knowles’s ‘How Shakespeare Knew King Leir’, Shakespeare Survey 55 (2002): 12–35. 6 For a discussion of the importance of Shakespeare’s tragic alteration to the chronicles (and Nahum Tate’s restoration of the original happy ending of Leir in his version), see Graham Holderness and Naomi Carter, ‘The King’s Two Bodies: Text and Genre in King Lear’, English 46.181 (1996): 1–31. 7 Dutton quotes Johnson’s famous comment on the changed ending of Lear: ‘Shakespeare has suffered the virtue of Cordelia to perish in a just cause, contrary to the natural ideas of justice, to the hope of the reader, and, what is yet more strange, to the faith of the chronicles’ (quoted in Dutton, ‘Shakespeare and British History’, 533, emphasis in original). 8 The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella. Although first registered in the Stationers’ Register in 1594 by Edward White, it is unknown whether White printed the play that year; the earliest surviving copies date from 1605, when the play was registered again and printed by Simon Stafford. 9 Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, 1587), I.2: 448. 10 In the legendary history of ancient Britain, the supposedly unified ancient British kingdom had an unfortunate tendency to break down into warring sub-­kingdoms which often correspond with the modern nations of Britain. In fact, the dynasty starts with division: according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Brutus, the originator of the dynasty, divides his kingdom among his three sons, who begin to fight soon after his death (these events are dramatized in the anonymous 1595 play Locrine). The Lear and Gorboduc stories also participate in this tradition. See Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, trans. Lewis



Thorpe (London: Penguin, 1966), passim. All subsequent references to Geoffrey are from the Penguin edition. 11 Richard Dutton, ‘King Lear, The Triumphs of Reunited Britannia and “The Matter of Britain” ’, Literature and History 12.2 (1986): 137–51, 146. 12 A detailed discussion of the ramifications of ‘Edgar’ as a possible echo of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar who unified Saxon Britain can be found in F. T. Flahiff’s ‘Edgar: Once and Future King’, in Rosalie Colie and F. T. Flahiff, eds, Some Facets of King Lear (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), 221–37. Other discussions include Tony Perrello’s ‘Anglo-Saxon Elements of the Gloucester Sub-­plot in King Lear’ in English Language Notes 35.1 (1997): 10–16 and Dutton, Triumphs, 137–51. The significance of Edgar’s name is also discussed briefly in Dutton, ‘Shakespeare and British History’, 527–42. 13 Quoted by Flahiff, ‘Once and Future King’, 229. Flahiff’s note 9 identifies her source as Heywood’s A True Description of His Majesties Royall Ship, Built this year 1637 at Wool-­witch in Kent (London, 1637). 14 That Lear depicts a premature ending for the British dynasty is a critical commonplace: see, for example, Dutton, Triumphs, 137–8 and 146–8: ‘By ending the play as he does, Shakespeare effectively obliterates the rest of Brute’s royal line, including Gorboduc, and all their mythical successors, such as Cymbeline and Arthur’ (146). The same article discusses the possibility that in the Quarto Albany may be the future king of Britain. He speaks the last words of the play, whereas those lines are given to Edgar in the Folio (146–7). 15 Geoffrey, History of the Kings of Britain, 75. 16 The final lines of the play, in which the speaker seems to take on a kingly role, are spoken by Albany in the 1608 and 1619 quartos, and Edgar in the Folio. Robert Weimann argues that this uncertainly reflects a certain ambivalence surrounding Edgar’s return. Weimann and Douglas Bruster, Shakespeare and the Power of Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, 206–7). For an exploration of the implications of Edgar as the final speaker, see Flahiff, ‘Edgar’.



17 Margreta de Grazia, ‘King Lear in BC Albion’, in Ruth Morse, Helen Cooper and Peter Holland, eds, Medieval Shakespeare, Pasts and Presents (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 138–56, 139. De Grazia reads religious ramifications of King Lear’s pre-Christian setting as an apparent passing over of the entire AD period: ‘Albion foresees only endtime, with no interceding and intercessional epiphanic break-­point. From the vantage of the AD audience, this anticipation cannot but look premature: as if the world were ending abortively before the Incarnation’ (139). 18 The name ‘Albion’ was supposed to come from an alternative origin myth for Britain. The myth first appears in the fourteenth century in an Anglo-Norman text called Des Granz Greatz; later it often circulated along with the Middle English Brut. See Anke Bernau, ‘Myths of Origin and the Struggle over Nationhood’, in Gordon McMullan and David Matthews, eds, Reading the Medieval in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 106–18, 107. The myth tells the story of a group of thirty-­three sisters who were set afloat by their father after killing their husbands. Their boats eventually grounded on the shores of what would become Britain, where they mated with the local incubi, eventually mothering the race of giants which populate Britain until Brutus arrives and clears the island of them. The story was popular for several hundred years, eventually declining late in the sixteenth century (Bernau comments that Spenser rejects it as a ‘monstrous error’ [113]). The eldest of the sisters was named Albina. 19 E. C. Fawtier and R. Fawtier, ‘From Merlin to Shakespeare: Adventures of an English Prophecy’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 5 (1919): 388–92. Fawtier and Fawtier establish that versions of this prophecy date at least back to the thirteenth century (388). They trace the prophecy forward, finding it, unattributed, in Caxton’s edition of Chaucer, and attributed to Chaucer in Puttenham’s 1589 Arte of Poesie (388–9). Fawtier and Fawtier argue that the final few lines of the prophecy (the priests’ laws overturned, the realm of Albion coming to confusion) have become proverbial by the sixteenth century. Although they cite more examples of it as attributed to Chaucer, the only version they find attributed to Merlin is Shakespeare’s (391). Paul Whitfield White reads the accreditation of the prophecies to



Merlin as ‘spoof[ing] the oblique mystical prophecies of Merlin’, and perhaps political prophecy more generally; see ‘The Admiral’s Lost Arthurian Plays of Elizabethan England’, in David McInnis and Matthew Steggle, eds, The Lost Plays of Shakespeare’s England (New York: Palgrave, 2014), 148–62, 158. In these versions, the start of the prophecy evokes a chaotic society, ‘Whan feyth failleth in prestes sawes’ (quoted in Fawtier and Fawtier, ‘From Merlin to Shakespeare’, 390), in Puttenham’s version – and ending with the same two lines: ‘Than shal the Lond of Albyon / Be brought to grete confusioun’ (Puttenham; quoted in ibid., 390). Shakespeare amplifies the original six-­line prophecy into fourteen lines. The most recent edition of Puttenham’s Art of Poesy, edited by Frank Whigham and Wayne A. Rebhorn (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), references the parallel to Lear and Caxton (309 n. 221), though it does not cite Fawtier specifically. 20 R. A. Foakes, ‘Introduction’, in King Lear, 1–151. Foakes comments that doubling the Fool and Cordelia is rare in modern productions (146–7). He mentions only two notable examples: those produced by Giorgio Stehler in Milan, in 1972, and Deborah Warner in London, in 1985. 21 In Holinshed’s Chronicles, Lear dies of old age, after which his burial is described at Leicester, and Cordelia is described as dying (by suicide) with ‘manlie courage’ (I.2: 448).

Chapter  13 1 All Shakespeare citations are from The Arden Shakespeare: Complete Works, revised edn, ed. Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson and David Scott Kastan (London: Bloomsbury, 2011). 2 For a survey of the developing conceptions of time in medieval thought, see Pasquale Porro, ed., The Medieval Concept of Time: Studies on the Scholastic Debate and its Reception in Early Modern Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2001). 3 David Gross, ‘Temporality and the Modern State’, Theory and Society 14.1 (1985): 53–82, 55. For the original articulation of the concept of the long durée, see Fernand Braudel, ‘Histoire et sciences sociales: la longue durée’, Annales: Economies, sociétés, civilisations IV (Oct.–Dec. 1958): 725–53.



4 For a description of how Doomsday paintings functioned in medieval English churches, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 3–7. 5 Painted during the 1460s, Memling’s Last Judgment was probably commissioned for the private collection of a wealthy patron and is representative of the French-Burgundian tradition that Johan Huizinga so piquantly diagnosed as the reified veneer of a society that was actually in the process of decline. See Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, trans. Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 249–67. I am indebted to Jennifer Nelson of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for bringing this particular painting to my attention during a discussion in 2009 about Last Judgements. 6 See Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004): ‘The end of time can be experienced only because it is always already sublimated in the Church. The history of the Church remains the history of salvation so long as this condition held . . . The Church utilized the imminent-­butfuture End of the World on one hand and the hope of Parousia on the other. The unknown Eschaton must be understood as one of the Church’s integrating factors, enabling its self-­constitution as world and as institution. The Church is itself eschatological’ (12–13). 7 For the sources and variations of the Antichrist myth, see Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 29–36. 8 See Jonathan B. Riess, The Renaissance Antichrist: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Frescos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995): ‘Antichrist’s servants wear the gaudy, striped tights then popular in North Italy, especially in Venice, just as other followers of the Evil One (to background left) wear then popular codpieces, tokens, in the context of this scene, of arrogant display and sexual prowess and so of the carnality that is one of Antichrist’s terrible allure’ (53). 9 Riess also points out how Signorelli’s inclusion of himself argues for the spiritual insight of all artists, a position suggested by



Signorelli’s incorporation of Dante into his frescos (The Renaissance Antichrist, 17–18). 10 For more background on the development of Martin Luther’s association of the papacy with the Antichrist, see David M. Whitford, ‘The Papal Antichrist: Martin Luther and the Underappreciated Influence of Lorenzo Valla’, Renaissance Quarterly 61 (2008): 26–52. 11 John Bale, The Image of Both Churches (London, 1548), 253. 12 Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 260, 258. 13 The New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Ronald E. Murphy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). 14 For the paradigmatic early church articulation of Rome as katechon, see Tertullian, The Apology of Tertullian, trans. and annot. W. Reeve (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden and Welsh, 1889), 95–6. The controversial theorist Carl Schmitt’s analysis of this politico-­theological function of the Holy Roman Empire has served as the primary means by which the term katechon has been reintroduced to the critical discussions of contemporary political theorists and scholars. See Schmitt, Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum, trans. G. L. Ullmen (New York: Telos, 2006), 57–60. 15 For a discussion of the sources and details of the Last World Emperor myth, see Cohn, Pursuit of the Millenium, 30–3; and Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994), 88–92 and passim. 16 Quoted from Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 86. 17 For examples of early modern English Protestant discussion of the katechontic role of the Roman Empire, see John Frith, The revelation of Antichrist (Marburg, 1529), 13–14, and John Jewel, An exposition upon the two epistles of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, in The Works of John Jewel, ed. Rev. John Ayre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1847), 916–17.



18 For an extended analysis of the famous portrait of Edward VI with the pope underfoot, see Margaret Aston, The King’s Bedpost: Reformation and Iconography in a Tudor Group Portrait (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). For a survey of Antichrist discourse during Elizabeth’s reign, see Leticia Álvarez Recio, Fighting the Antichrist: A Cultural History of Anti-Catholicism in Tudor England (Portland: Sussex Academy Press, 2011). 19 Brightman equated Anglicanism with the Laodicean church of Revelation that God would eventually vomit from his mouth because it is neither hot nor cold but merely lukewarm. For an excellent survey of political apocalyptic in early modern England, see Bernard Capp, ‘The Political Dimension of Apocalyptic Thought’, in C. A. Patrides and Joseph Wittreich, eds, The Apocalypse in English Renaissance Thought and Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), 93–124. 20 See Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), esp. 107–32. 21 See Christopher Hill, Antichrist in the Seventeenth Century (London: Verso, 1990). 22 Christopher Hill, ‘God and the English Revolution’, History Workshop 17.1 (1984): 19–31, 21. 23 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 135. 24 For an argument that Hobbes’ view of state authority imitates the Book of Job’s emphasis on God’s ‘irresistible power’, see R. J. Halliday, Timothy Kenyon and Andrew Reeve, ‘Hobbes’s Belief in God’, Political Studies 31.3 (1983): 418–33. For an article challenging this reading, see Keally McBride, ‘State of Insecurity: The Trial of Job and Secular Political Order’, Perspectives on Politics 6.1 (2008): 11–20. 25 For further analysis of Hobbes’s Leviathan in terms of the concept of katechon, see Horst Bredekamp, ‘From Walter Benjamin to Carl Schmitt, via Thomas Hobbes’, trans. Melissa Thorson Hause and Jackson Bond, in Critical Inquiry 25.2 (1999): 247–66; Bredekamp, ‘Thomas Hobbes’s Visual Strategies’, in Patricia Springborg, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan (Cambridge: Cambridge



University Press, 2007), 29–60; Wolfgang Palaver, ‘Hobbes and the Katéchon: The Secularization of Sacrificial Christianity’, Contagion: A Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 2 (Spring 1995): 57–74; and Giorgio Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as Political Paradigm, trans. Nicholas Heron (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015).

Chapter  14 1 Matthew D. Wagner, Shakespeare, Theatre, and Time (New York: Routledge, 2012), 12–13, 32, 28. 2 Wagner, Shakespeare, 29. 3 See Cyrus Mulready, Romance on the Early Modern Stage (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 154 and Chap. 5. 4 The play’s scene divisions differ slightly among editions. These notations and all quotations refer to William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, ed. Valerie Wayne (London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2017). More extended discussions of the play’s relation to the union debates, the ancient Britons, colonialism and empire appear in the introduction to this edition. 5 Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 43–76, 60, 59. 6 William Camden, Britain, trans. Philemon Holland (London: Bishop, Norton et al., 1610), 89. In Cymbeline: Constructions of Britain (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 65–9, Ros King also associates other images on Camden’s coins with passages in the play. The reverse image on the second coin in Figure 14.1 may, as she suggests, picture someone minting coins, which would relate to Posthumus’s remark that ‘Some coiner with his tools / Made me a counterfeit’ at 2.5.5–6. I am less sure of her claim that the reverse image on the first coin is a boar, but Posthumus’s mention of a ‘full-­acorned boar’ at 2.5.16 might nonetheless have been prompted by it. Still another coin reproduced in Camden but not represented here depicts a winged horse and could, as King says, relate to Innogen’s call for ‘a horse with wings’ at 3.2.48.



7 Camden, Britain, 97. An account of Celtic coins with twin heads by Venceslas Kruta proposes that they represent the Dioscuri, the heavenly twins of Indo-European origin, who had been venerated by the ancient Celts according to Diodorus Siculus (in The Library of History, IV.56.4). Kruta relates these twins to the Lugoves, the plural form of the Celtic god Lugus. Some secondand first-century Celtic coins of central Europe appear to have been modeled on Romano-Campanian coins from the third century BC with janiform images of the Dioscuri. The Celtic coins found in northern Gaul and reproduced by Kruta look similar to the first coin in Figure 14.1. So while Camden and his early modern contemporaries read the first coin as figuring Janus, we now know there were other possibilities. See Kruta, ‘ “Têtes jumelées” et jumeaux divins: essai d’iconographie celtique’, Etudes celtiques 42 (2016): 33–58. I am grateful to Marged Haycock for her generous assistance with this essay. 8 Plutarch says that Numa brought such lasting peace to Rome that the doors to the temple of Janus in the forum were always shut during his reign, in The lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes, trans. Thomas North (London: J. Wight, 1579), 79–80. Shakespeare used North’s translation for many of his Roman plays and may have consulted the life of Numa for Coriolanus (Peter Holland, ed., Coriolanus [London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2013], 2.1.170n). Plutarch’s The philosophie, commonly called, the morals, trans. Philemon Holland (London: A. Hatfield, 1603) also associates transformation with Janus in explaining why the Roman god appeared on ancient coins (864–5). 9 John Speed surrounds a narrative of Cymbeline’s importance with images of eight coins from his reign on a full folio page, with the Janus coin centred at the top, in The History of the Kings of Britaine (London: J. Sudbury and G. Humble, 1611), 174. 10 The pageant was planned for 25 July 1603 and finally performed, following delays due to plague, on 15 March 1604. Martin Butler, ‘Introduction’, The King’s Entertainment, ed. Butler, in Ben Jonson, The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson, ed. David Bevington, Martin Butler and Ian Donaldson, 7 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), II: 421–45, 421.



11 Butler, ‘Introduction’, 423, and Jonson, King’s Entertainment, 455–7, l.540–77. 12 Jonson, King’s Entertainment, 445–8, l.316–65. 13 Butler, ‘Introduction’, 423–4. Butler identifies a small shrine called Janus Geminus that stood in the forum at Rome as the temple associated with Augustus. The temple built in connection with Jonson’s Entertainment was modelled on a later structure in the forum, the temple of Janus Quadrifons, on which Domitian positioned a four-­faced Janus. The four faces ‘could be linked to the four seasons or the four elements’ (Jonson, King’s Entertainment, 445, l.314n, ‘frontispiece’). 14 Janus also figures in Books 7 and 8 of The Aeneid, a text that Cymbeline alludes to, and at line 1252 of Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, another probable source for the play. See Wayne, ed., Cym, 99, 103–5. 15 Carrie E. Beneš, Urban Legends and the Classical Past in Northern Italy, 1250–1350 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011), 69. 16 Both of Shakespeare’s sources for the wager plot, Boccaccio’s Decameron (Day 2, Tale 9) and the anonymous Frederyke of Jennen (i.e. Genoa), are set in Genoa. That location is analogous to Cymbeline’s Britain as the place where many events occur, including the alleged seduction, and it is the origin for the counterparts to Innogen and Posthumus. On Janus as the founder of Genoa, see Beneš, Urban Legends, 69–87. 17 I see the wager and war plots as the play’s two main plots, with the plot of long-­lost sons as a subplot of the war plot. 18 Serres and Latour, Conversations, 60. 19 Conrad Russell, King James VI and I and his English Parliaments, ed. Richard Cust and Andrew Thrush (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 128. 20 Sir Henry Spelman, Of the Union, in The Jacobean Union: Six Tracts of 1604, ed. Bruce R. Galloway and Brian P. Levack (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1985), 170. 21 Sir Francis Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. James Spedding, 15 vols. (New York: Garrett Press, [1868] 1968), VII: 48, 58–9. See also Wayne, Cym, 54 and note.



22 James I, Stuart Royal Proclamations, ed. James F. Larkin and Paul L. Hughes, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973–83), I: 97. 23 S. T. Bindoff, ‘The Stuarts and Their Style’, English Historical Review, 60 (1945): 197–216. 24 Thomas Harriot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (Frankfurt: Theodore de Bry, 1590), sig. E1r. 25 John Kerrigan, Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics, 1603–1707 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 132. 26 Wagner, Shakespeare, 13. 27 Ruth Nevo, Shakespeare’s Other Language (New York: Methuen, 1987), 80. 28 Alfred W. Crosby, The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250–1600 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 78–9. 29 Susan Frye, Pens and Needles (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 180–2. 30 J. K. Barret, ‘The Crowd in Imogen’s Bedroom: Allusion and Ethics in Cymbeline’, Shakespeare Quarterly 66 (2015): 440–62, 441. 31 For example, some editorial stage directions refer to Posthumus’s clothing in Act Five as ‘Roman’ rather than ‘Italian’. See Wayne, Cym, 382. 32 My use of ‘untimely’ is indebted to Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). 33 Serres and Latour, Conversations, 59–60.


Note: Page references in italics indicate illustrations. Act of Oblivion and Indemnity (1660) 114–16 act and scene divisions 157, 160–1, 162–9, 309 n.4 Act of Supremacy (1534) 61–3 Adelman, Janet 160 Adorno, Theodor 61 Adso of Montier-­en-Der 239 Agamben, Giorgio 19, 104, 272 n.24 Agincourt, Battle of (1415) 87, 91, 93 Ahmed, Sara 203 allusion in Pericles 100–1, 104 in Troilus and Cressida 104, 108–9 Altman, Joel 91–2 Amadis de Gaul see Rodríguez de Montalvo, Garci Amyot, Jacques 162 Angelico, Fra 230, 231 Antichrist and iconography of Hobbes 246 and papacy 233, 237, 240 in Reformation iconography 230–41 state of nature as 243

apocalyptic see eschatology; time, apocalyptic/ teleological archaism, in romance 147–8, 149–50 archetypes 11–16, 12, 19–20, 98 Aristotle 9, 20, 54, 98 art narrative, and time 3 visual, and time 3, 28 atemporality 36–8 audience and Cary, Elizabeth 189–90 and genre and temporality 98–108 and intelligible past 83–9, 92, 96 and stage poetry 123–39 and suspense 44–55, 103 Augustine of Hippo, St, The City of God 225 authority ecclesiastical 59, 61–2, 225–6, 236, 241, 245 of Scripture 236 sovereign 61–2, 75, 198, 201, 226, 237–40, 241, 243–6



Bacon, Francis 255 Badiou, Alain 81–2, 93–4 Baker, Herschel 274 n.41 Bakhtin, Mikhail 3, 37–8 Bale, John The Image of Both Churches 236 King Johan 84 Barber, C. L. 37 Barnes, Barnabe 125 Barret, J. K. 258 Barry, Jackson 128 Barton, Anne 128 Bate, Jonathan and Rasmussen, Eric 169 Bayley, John 283 n.33 Beales, Meredith 22–3, 205–19 Beaumont, Francis and Fletcher, John, The Knight of the Burning Pestle 22, 141–55 and Cervantes 141–3, 153, 155 performance history 141–2, 152–5 Prologue 141, 143–6, 151 and romance 146–8, 149–52, 153 time and performance 152–5 time and space 148–52 time and text 143–8 Beecher, Donald 48–9 Benjamin, Walter 57–61, 62–3, 63–4, 66, 68, 70–1, 74, 75 Bevington, David 10, 168, 279 n.3, 287 n.27 Black, Scott 14–15 Bloch, Ernst 61 The Bold Beauchamps 144

Bosse, Abraham 244 Bourne, Claire 164 Braden, Gordon 191, 198 Brightman, Thomas 240 Britain colonization of New World 251, 255–6, 257, 259 and dynastic politics 7, 58, 61–2, 81, 174–5, 183–4, 207–13, 214, 217 unification 213–14, 254–5 Brome, Richard, The Sparagus Garden 154 Brute/Brutus myth 89, 119, 173–4, 176, 185, 207–8, 214, 253, 302 n.10, 303 n.14 Bullough, Geoffrey 301–2 n.5 Burbage, Richard 135, 289 n.12 Burre, Walter 141–3, 152–3 Bush, George W., and Henry V 95 Bushnell, Rebecca 20, 22, 157–70 Butler, Martin 252–3 Calderwood, James L. 296 n.13 Camden, William, Britain 250, 251 Capell, Edward 167 carnival 37–8, 65, 192, 215 Carroll, William 11, 20, 22–3, 41, 173–87 Cartwright, Kent 11, 21, 27–42 Cary, Elizabeth, The Tragedy of Mariam 22–3, 189–204 and certainty 189–90 Chorus 189–91, 192, 204


and hatred 196–9, 200–4 and narrative counterfactuals 192–5 and passionate counterfactuals 195–200 structure 192–3 cataphora 50 Cervantes, Miguel de, Don Quixote 141–3, 146, 153, 155 Chapman, George 100 All Fools 123–5, 134 The Old Joiner of London 148 Charnes, Linda 110–11 Chaucer, Geoffrey, Troylus and Criseyde 13, 100, 106 Chaudhuri, Supriya 279 n.9, 281 n.21 Chettle, Henry 124 Shore’s Wife (with John Day) 144 chorus in Henry V 87, 89 in Pericles 99, 100–1 in The Tragedy of Mariam 189–91, 192, 204 chronicles and Henry V 84, 91–2 and Henry VIII 64, 66 and King Lear 207–13, 214, 305 n.21 see also Geoffrey of Monmouth; Holinshed, Raphael chronotopes 3, 17 Clarke, Danielle 200–1 closet drama 190–1, 193–204 Coleridge, S. T. 47–9


Colie, Rosalie 6, 9, 283 n.36 comedy apocalyptic 27, 33–4, 36 city, and time and space 148–52 and comic timing 27, 28–30 early modern 9–16, 20 and green world 36–8 and recognition scenes 33, 40 and suspense 50–1, 52 and time 21, 27–42 and atemporality 36–8 clock time 30–1, 158, 265 n.11 generational 27, 34 suspension 28, 158 thickness 31 and urgency 27, 32–3, 35–6, 38, 41–2 see also Beaumont and Fletcher, Knight of the Burning Pestle; Shakespeare, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Comedy of Errors, Measure for Measure, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing Condee, William F. 44–5 contingency, and time 62, 75–6, 194–5 convergence, temporal 248–9 Cooper, Helen 14, 281 n.13 Cope, Sir Walter 134–5 counterfactuality narrative 22–3, 192–5, 201–2 passionate 195–200, 202



Cranach, Lucas, Passional Christi und Antichristi 233, 234, 235 Crane, Ralph 163 criticism archetypal 11–16 baroque 63 and Love’s Labour’s Lost 127–8, 132–3, 135–9 and temporality 123–7, 128 Cultural Materialism 7 dance, and comedy 29–30 Daniel, Samuel Delia 129, 137–8 Mucedorus 145 Davis, Alex 147 Day, John and Chettle, Henry, Shore’s Wife 144 Day, John, Rowley, William and Wilkins, George, The Travels of the Three English Brothers 145 De Bry, Theodore 255 De Grazia, Margreta 161–2, 176, 183, 304 n.17 death in comedies 31, 33–5, 41, 126, 135, 158 of father 173–5, 176–9, 182, 186–7 in history plays 80 in romance 14, 16, 103 and tragedy 158, 199–200, 204, 217 in satire 102 in Trauerspiel 57, 66 declension, in Hamlet 179–82, 184–5

Dekker, Thomas 124 Jephthah (with Munday) 143 Satiromastix 128, 139 The Wonderful Year 135 Denkbilder 60–1, 71, 73 Des Granz Greatz 304 n.18 dilation, in Comedy of Errors 30, 32–3, 38, 40 Dillon, Janette 147 dissonance 28, 33, 39–41, 193, 257–9 Dodds, Lara 20, 22–3, 189–204 Doomsday 177, 182–3, 225–7 iconography 227–30, 242–3 Dowd, Michelle M. 193 Dowden, Edward 15, 16 Downes, John 115 drama, closet 190–1, 193–204 Drayton, Michael 137 Endymion 128 Idea 125, 134 Idea’s Mirrour 128–9 Dryden, John 114, 116–20 Dutton, Richard 88, 302 n.7, 303 n.14 Edward VI 240 endings, comic 14, 28, 39–42 endtime see eschatology; time, apocalyptic/ teleological epic, as genre 120 eschatology 59, 68–9, 104, 225–6 and Antichrist 230–41 and iconography 23, 227–30, 228, 241–6, 242, 244 and katechon 237–40, 246


eternity artificial 245 and time 228–31 Falco, Raphael 20, 21, 43–55 farce, and Shakespearean comedy 31–3 father, death 173–5, 176–9, 182, 186–7 Fawtier, E. C. and Fawtier, R. 304 n.19 Fernie, Ewan 95–6 festivity, and comedy 16, 28–30, 33–4, 37–8 Flahiff, E. T. 213 Flannigan, Tom 128 Fletcher, John 8–10 and genre 278–9 n.2 and Henry VIII 62–76 see also Beaumont, Francis form and dynastic succession 58–76 and genre 11–14, 114–20 poetic 123–34 and temporality 5–8, 19–24, 97–120 formalism, historical 7 Forse, James 269 n.16 Foxe, John, Actes and Monuments 23, 236–40, 238, 240 Freund, Elizabeth 108, 281 n.15, 282 n.22 Frye, Northrop 11–12, 16, 19–20, 27, 36–7, 104, 108, 158 future alternate 193–5 in Antony and Cleopatra 158–9


and dramatic genre 13–14, 247 in Henry V 87–8, 92–3 in King Lear 22–3, 205–19 Garner, Robert, Antonius 190 Gauchet, Marcel 272–3 n.30 gender, and passion 189–204 genealogy in Henry V 86, 88–93 and history 59 in Macbeth 186–7 see also succession genre and archetypal criticism 11–16, 98 designations 9–11 and form 6, 7–9 and suspense 50–5 and time 7, 11–20, 33, 97–120, 204 see also comedy; history plays; romance; satire; tragedy Geoffrey of Monmouth 174, 176, 207–8, 213, 214 Goldberg, Jonathan see Menon, Madhavi Goodrich, Peter 59 Gorboduc see Norton, Thomas, and Sackville, Thomas Gower, John, Pericles 100–5, 102, 113, 114, 119, 120 Greene, Robert Menaphon 124 Pandosto 100 Perimedes the Blacke-­smith 287 n.24 Greene, Thomas 109



Griffin, Andrew 6, 21–2, 79–96 Griffin, Benjamin 86, 89 Griffith, Eva 289 n.8 Gross, David 226–7 Gurr, Andrew 290 n.24 Hamlin, William M. 196 Hamm, Robert B. Jr. 164–5 Harbage, Alfred 290 n.24 Harriot, Thomas, Briefe and True Report 255–6 Harris, Jonathan Gil 5, 107–8 Harrison, Matthew 22, 123–39 Harrison, Stephen, The Arch’s of triumph 252 hatred, female 196–9, 200–4 Hegel, G. W. F. 60 Heidegger, Martin 60, 223–4 Heiple, Daniel 52 Helgerson, Richard 237 Henry VIII, and Reformation 233–7 Henslowe, Philip, Diary 143, 144 heraldry, in Hamlet 178 heroism, stoic 197–8, 203 Heywood, Thomas Apology for Actors 89, 93 The Four Prentices of London 145 The Second Part 144 A True Description of His Majesties Royal Ship 303 n.13 Hill, Christopher 240–1 Hirsh, James E. 163 history chronicle 64, 66, 84, 86, 89–90, 91–2, 207–11

and sovereignty 62–3, 74, 75–6 history plays 6, 22 and daily life 265 n.11 and dynastic politics 81–2, 175 and Henry V 21–2, 79–96 and Henry VIII 58–76 and present of performance 80–2, 85–8, 92–3, 96 and recent past 81–7 see also Henry IV, Part One; Henry V; Henry VI, Part One; Henry VIII; King John; Richard II; Richard III Hitchcock, Alfred 44–5 Hobbes, Thomas 23, 241–6 De Cive 241–3, 242 Leviathan 227, 241, 243–6, 244 Holbein, Hans, Thomas More 72 Holinshed, Raphael 64, 71, 100, 176, 205 n.21, 208–10, 212 Homer, Iliad, and Troilus and Cressida 105, 106, 108–9, 119 Huizinga, Johan 306 n.5 Hunter, G. K. 81–4, 86, 93–4 Husserl, Edmund 4, 5, 50, 223–4, 247, 257 iconography eschatological 23, 227–30, 228, 241–6, 242, 244 and Hobbes 241–6, 242, 244 Reformation 230–41


identity, collective 233, 237, 240–1, 243–5 images dialectical 60–1, 74 thinking 61 immediacy 22, 35 incest, in Pericles 112–13 intelligibility, and history plays 81–9, 92–6 Jacob and Esau (Anon.) 136 James, Heather 282 n.23, 285 n.53, 294 n.2 James I and VI Basilicon Doron 174–5 and Brute myth 174, 253 descent 301 n.3 and Janus 250, 251–2, 252 and succession 181, 186–7 and unified Britain 213–14, 254–5 Jameson, Fredric 6 Janus 250, 251–2, 252, 259 Jewel, John 59 Johnson, Samuel 164, 166, 208 Jones, Kelly 281–2 n.21 Jonson, Ben 103, 107, 124, 162 Every Man in His Humour 137 The King’s Entertainment 251–3 Poetaster 138 Josephus, Titus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews 190 Kamps, Ivo 273 n.32 Kastan, David Scott 4, 86, 193, 204 katechon 237–40, 246


Kaula, David 159 Kerrigan, John 257 Kewes, Paulina 82–3 Keysar, Robert 141 King Leir (Anon.) 208–9, 301–2 n.5 King, Ros 309 n.6 knowledge, shared 43–55 Koselleck, Reinhart 306 n.6 Kracauer, Siegfried 61 Kruta, Venceslas 310 n.7 Kyd, Thomas, The Spanish Tragedy 137–8, 145 Laroque, François 37 Last Judgement see Doomsday; eschatology Last World Emperor myth 239–40 Leach, Clifford 274 n.41 The Legend of Whittington 144 Leggatt, Alexander 35 Levine, Caroline 19 The Life and Death of Thomas Gresham 144 Lightbown, Ronald W. 274 n.38 Lilburne, John 117, 118, 120 Longshanks 289 n.7 Loomba, Ania 161 Lope de Vega y Carpio, Félix 52 Lorenz, Philip 8, 9, 20, 21, 57–76 love poets in satire 131–4, 138 in theatre 125, 126, 127–8, 134–9 Lowry, Rich 95 Lucas, John 1



Lukács, Georg 273 n.32 Lupton, Julia Reinhard 8 Luther, Martin 59, 65, 68, 233, 275 n.44 Lyly, John, Endymion 136, 137 Marlowe, Christopher, Edward II 84 McGowan, Todd 44 McMullan, Gordon 273 nn.33, 35, 274 n.41 Marshall, Frances 151 Marston, John 124–5 The Fawn 152 The Malcontent 289 n.12 Martorell, Joan 274 n.38 materiality, and time 28, 42, 160 Matheus, Jean 242 Mede, Joseph, Clavis Apocalyptica 240 melancholy 21, 65 Melanchthon, Philip 23, 233, 235 memento mori imagery 28 Memling, Hans, The Last Judgement 23, 227–30, 228, 231, 237, 243, 245 Memmo, Paul 128 memory, and history 85–94, 109 Menon, Madhavi and Goldberg, Jonathan 108 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice 223–4 metre, and temporality 19 Middleton, Thomas, Your Five Gallants 152

Middleton, Thomas, and Rowley, William, The Changeling 52–4 Milton, John, Paradise Lost 120 mimesis 13–14, 79 misalignment, and time 17–18, 20–2, 44, 177 Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de 100, 111, 196 Montrose, Louis 131 More, Thomas 71, 72 Mulready, Cyrus 84, 89 Munday, Anthony (with Thomas Dekker), Jephthah 143 Munro, Lucy 22, 79, 141–55 music, in comedy 29 Nagel, Alexander and Wood, Christopher 3, 20, 107 Nägele, Rainer 60 Nashe, Thomas 124 Pierce Penniless 80–1 nationalism, English 237, 240–1, 243 Neill, Michael 161–2, 168–9 neoclassicism and Antony and Cleopatra 157, 159–61, 163–5, 169–70 and Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam 19, 199 New Criticism 6 New Formalism 7 New Historicism 6–7, 11, 14–15 Newcomb, Lori Humphrey 112 Ngai, Sianne 203


North, Thomas 161–2, 250 Norton, Thomas, and Sackville, Thomas, Gorboduc 162, 207 nostalgia 36, 38, 93, 124, 195 Novak, Maximillian 285 n.48 Nuttall, A. D. 280 n.12, 283 n.32 Olivier, Laurence 95–6 Orgel, Stephen and Braunmuller, A. R. 10, 15 Palmerin D’Oliva see Vásquez, Francisco papacy, as Antichrist 233, 237, 240 Parker, Patricia 32, 33 parody and poetry 126, 127, 136 in Troilus and Cressida 106 Parr, Thomas 85 Parsons, Robert 124, 295 n.12 passions, tragic 195–204 past alternate 193–5, 197, 201–2 in Antony and Cleopatra 158–60 intelligible 81–9, 92–6 and present of performance 80–2, 92–3, 96, 159, 215–17, 218–19, 247 pastoral, as genre 9 Pater, Walter 128 Peele, George Edward I 144 Old Wives’ Tale 287 n.25 Perrett, Wilfrid 301 n.5 Platt, Hugh 100


Plutarch, Lives 161–2, 250 poetry forms 123–34 and parody 126, 127 sonnet sequences 125, 126, 128–31, 132 and stage poet 126 polychronicity 4–5, 19–20, 101–2, 104, 107–8, 112–13, 119, 177, 250–9 Pope, Alexander 166–7, 167, 168 Popish Plot (1678) 116, 117–18, 120 present in Antony and Cleopatra 158–9 in Cary’s Tragedy of Mariam 193–5, 198–9 and past 80–2, 92–3, 96, 159, 215–17, 218–19, 247 presentism 6–7 Priam 108–9, 174 death 173, 176, 183, 187 primogeniture 175–6, 182 process, and time 69–70, 74–5, 89–90 prophecy in Henry VIII 66, 73–4, 75, 86 in King Lear 22–3, 205–6, 215–17 proportion, in comedies 41 Protestantism see Luther, Martin; Reformation Puttenham, George, The Arte of English Poesie 8, 180, 304 n.19



Quint, David 120 Rackin, Phyllis 160 Radway, Janice 281 n.20 Randolph, Thomas, The Muses’ Looking Glass 154 Rang, Florens Christian 62 Rankins, William 131–2 reception, and temporality 123–39 recognition 11, 49, 66 in comedies 33, 40 in romances 108, 113, 115 Reformation and Antichrist 230–41 and early modern history plays 84–5, 95 and religion and time 59, 68 religion, and time 59, 68 repetition in comedy 28, 32 in history plays 62, 63–6, 71, 73–4, 75–6 in romance and satire 22, 32, 103–8, 111–14 in tragedy 103 representation and history plays 79 and sovereignty 63 Restoration, and theatre 22, 114–20 Rhodes, John 115 rhyme 19, 104–5 rhythm of daily life 30–1, 37 and timing 28–30 Ribner, Irving 82 Richter, Gerhard 71

Riess, Jonathan B. 306 nn.8, 9 ritual, and theatre 10, 17, 19, 98 The Riverside Shakespeare 15 Rodríguez de Montalvo, Garci, Amadis de Gaul 146 romance as genre 9, 12–19, 23, 120, 247 and The Knight of the Burning Pestle 146–8, 149–52, 153 and polychronicity 107–8, 112–13, 119 and repetition 103–8, 111–14 in Shakespearean comedy 31–3 and time and space 148–51, 247–8 tragi-­comic 22, 97 see also Cymbeline; Pericles; The Tempest; The Winter’s Tale Rome, as katechon 239 Rosenzweig, Franz 62 Rowe, Nicholas 164–7, 165 Ryan, Kiernan 155 Salic law 88–9, 91, 92 satire 11, 13–14, 120, 138, 153 and city comedies 153, 154 and tragedy 22, 98, 103 verse 126, 131–4 Satiromastix see Dekker, Thomas Saviolo, Vincentio 100 Schmitt, Carl 58, 63, 74 Schwyzer, Philip 85–6, 93–4, 301 nn.3,4


secularization 226–7 Seneca, and Renaissance drama 23, 163, 190–2, 195, 200, 203 Serres, Michel 4–5, 177, 249, 254, 259 Shakespeare, William All’s Well That Ends Well ending 40–1 Antony and Cleopatra 22, 157–70 act and scene divisions 157, 160–1, 162–9 length 160 reading text 160–70 Romanization 161–2, 165, 170 and stage directions 165 and time and place 158–9 As You Like It and dance 29 and inheritance dispute 175 and poetry 128, 136 and time 30–1, 34–8, 40, 223 and blank verse 124 and generational time 34 The Comedy of Errors 31–4, 38–41 and clock time 31 dilation in 30, 32–3, 38, 40 as door play 21, 30 and end-­time 33–4 and repetitions 32 and temporal thickness 31–2 and time-­out-of-­time 38


Coriolanus 310 n.8 Cymbeline act and scene divisions 309 n.4 and genre 8, 10, 15, 248 and James I and VI 251–3 sources 248, 250, 311 n.16 and temporal pleating and folding 23, 249, 250–9 First Folio 8, 10, 16, 82–3, 157, 160–1, 162–3, 166, 205, 214, 257, 278 n.2 Hamlet and genre 10 and heraldry 178 and shared knowledge 21, 51–2 and succession 175, 176–85, 186 and Trojan War myth 176, 183 Henry IV, Part 1 146 and dilation 32 and dramatic reversal 50 quoted 144 and time-­out-of-­time 36 Henry V Crispin’s Day speech 92–3 and Fluellen 89–92, 95, 96 and genealogy 86, 88–93 as history play 21–2, 79–96 Prologue 87, 101 Salic law speech 88–9, 91, 92 and succession 87–8



Henry VI, Part 1 80 Henry VIII 57–76 and choreography 67–8, 71, 74–5 and collars of esses 70–3, 72, 75–6 and form 63–4 and historical movement 64–5, 66, 69–70, 73–4, 76 as mourning play 58, 62–3 Prologue 65 and prophecy 66, 73–4, 75, 86 and repetition 21, 62–3, 64–6, 71, 73–4, 75–6 and rupture 21, 59, 62–3 stage directions 67–8, 70–1, 75–6 and tragicomedy 66 Julius Caesar 293 n.23 and historical truth 82 and Trojan War story 173–4 King John 84 King Lear and catharsis 50 and chronicle accounts 207–13, 214 and future 22–3, 205–19 alternative 213–14 as elusive 214–17 as impossible 207–13 retreat from 217–19 and genre 8 and succession 175, 186, 207–12 Love’s Labour’s Lost and apt time 41–2

and contested inheritance 175 and dancing 30 date 126, 286 n.6 and death 34, 41, 173 and love poets 125, 126, 127–8, 133–4, 138–9 and poetic form 125–7 revival 134–5 and sonnet sequences 128–31 Macbeth sources 100 and succession 175, 186–7 Measure for Measure 15, 31 The Merchant of Venice ending 38–9 and generational time 34 and genre 12–13, 15 and music 29, 38 A Midsummer Night’s Dream and dancing 29 and genre 263 n.25 interpretations 126 and love poetry 128, 133–4, 136–7 Much Ado About Nothing and genre 15 and music and dance 29–30 and wonder 40 Othello 191 Pericles and audience response 98–9, 100–2, 105–8 and character response 110–14 ending 114


and form 21–2, 97 and genre 13, 15, 19, 97, 98–9, 103–4 and Gower 18, 100–5, 113, 114, 119, 120 Restoration revival 22, 114–16, 119 and rhyme 104–5 and time 112, 113, 248 Quarto 8, 14, 24, 107, 219, 303 n.14 Richard II and historical truth 82 and succession 175 and time 224 Richard III 224–5 Romeo and Juliet act and scene divisions 293 n.23 and genre 8, 13 and suspense 44 Sir Thomas More 86 Sonnet 30 224 Sonnet 126 23–4 The Tempest and polychronicity 2–3, 4, 18, 19, 248 as romance 15, 16, 248 Timon of Athens 63 n.21, 293 n.23 Titus Andronicus 174, 293 n.23 Troilus and Cressida act and scene divisions 293 n.23 and audience response 98–100, 103, 105–7, 155 and character response 108–11, 113–14


date 107, 278 n.1 ending 14, 98, 120 and form 21–2, 97 and genre 8, 10, 15, 97, 98, 103–4 Prologue 103, 105–6, 119–20, 174 Restoration revival 22, 114–15, 116–20 and suspense 103 Twelfth Night 34–5, 39–41 and genre 12, 29–30 and suspended time 28 and suspense 54–5 and urgency 35 The Two Gentlemen of Verona and death 33–4 and green world 36–7 and rhyme 28–9 and time and truth 40 The Winter’s Tale and Greene 100 as romance 8, 13–14, 15–19 and suspense 44 time frames 17–18, 248 Shelton, Thomas 142 Shohet, Lauren 11, 97–120 Sidney, Mary 190 Sidney, Sir Philip Astrophil and Stella 129 In Defence of Poesy (An Apology for Poetry) 124, 148 Signorelli, Luca, Preaching and Deeds of the Antichrist 23, 230–2, 231, 232



Smith, Joshua S. 145 Sohmer, Steve 296 n.15 sonnet sequences 125, 126, 128–31, 132 sovereignty in Henry VIII 6, 58, 63, 67–8, 74, 75–6 and representation 63 and time 58, 63, 74–5 see also authority space and theatre 87, 101 and time 148–52 Speed, John, History of Great Britaine 250 Spelman, Sir Henry 255 Spenser, Edmund and archaism 150 Epithalamion 129 The Faerie Queene 208 stage directions in Antony and Cleopatra 165 in Henry VIII 67–8, 70–1, 75–6 Stallybrass, Peter and De Grazia, Margreta 161–2 Stewart, Robin S. 8, 9, 23, 223–46 The Story of Queen Eleanor 144 Straznicky, Marta 197 succession contested 174–5, 181–2, 296 n.13 and declension 179–82, 184–5 in Hamlet 175, 176–85 in history plays 59, 62, 73–4, 87–8

in King Lear 175, 186, 207–12 in Macbeth 175, 186–7 in Richard II 175 Stuart dynasty 174 in tragedy 22–3, 58–76, 173–87 surprise, and suspense 44–5 suspense 21, 43–55, 103 and comedy 50–1, 52, 158 and surprise 44–5 and urgency 54–5 Tate, Nahum 302 n.6 Taylor, Gary 115–16, 163, 165, 264 n.38 temporality collective 21, 226–7, 229 and form 5–8, 19–24, 97–120 and metre 19 multiple 22–3, 113, 226–7 and poetic form 123–39 staging 2–5 text, and time 20, 22 theatre and love poets 125, 126, 127–8, 134–9 outdoor 145–6, 152 and poetics 123–6, 127–8 and spatial limitation 87, 101 and stage poet 126 and time 2–5, 27–8, 55 thickness, and time 3, 4, 9, 20, 28, 158, 170, 193–5, 247–59 Thomas, Adele 151 Thomas, Keith 85


Tillyard, E. M. W. 276 n.12 time apocalyptic/teleological 27 in Comedy of Errors 33–4, 36 in Hamlet 177, 182, 187 in Henry VIII 59, 63, 68–9 in King Lear 215 apt 41–2 clock time 30–1, 48, 158, 184, 224–5, 265 n.11 comic 21, 27–42 compression 33, 58, 198–9 and contingency 62, 75–6, 194–5 as cyclical 37, 59 diachronic 173–87 and dissonance 28, 33, 39–41, 193, 257–9 and eternity 228–31 fictional 189–90 generational 16, 27, 34 and genre 7, 11–20, 33, 97–120, 204 linear 62, 158, 186–7, 248 markers 43–4, 49, 196, 239 and materiality 28, 42, 160 and performance 80–2, 92–3, 96, 152–5, 164 pleated and folded 23, 247–59 in Richard III 225–6 as shared experience 21, 43–55


subjective 1–3, 17, 223–4 suspension 28, 158 thick 3, 4, 9, 20, 28, 31, 33, 158, 170, 193–5, 247–59 time frames 20, 22, 108 and counterfactuality 22, 192–5 in Cymbeline 23 in Pericles 112, 113 in Troilus and Cressida 120 in The Winter’s Tale 17–18, 248 time-­out-of-­time 36, 38, 42 timepieces 28 timing, comic 27, 28–30 Tonson, Jacob 163–4, 166 tragedy and comedy 50–1, 54 early modern 9–14, 20 and history plays 82 and passion 195–200 satiric 22, 98, 103 and succession 22–3, 58, 173–87 and thick time 158, 170, 193–5 and time 191–2, 193–5, 196, 204 and Trauerspiel 21, 57–8, 62–3 see also Antony and Cleopatra; Hamlet; King Lear; Macbeth; Troilus and Cressida tragicomedy, as genre 9–10, 15, 16, 22, 66, 97 transformation, in drama 10, 13–14, 16–17, 42, 98



Trojan War see Hamlet; Julius Caesar; Love’s Labour’s Lost; Troilus and Cressida The True Chronicle History of King Leir 208–9 The True Tragedy of Richard III (Anon.) 86 Truffaut, François 44 truth in history plays 82 and time in comedies 39–40 Tudor myth 84, 95, 207 tyrannicide 58–9 urgency in comedies 27, 32–3, 35–6, 38, 41–2 and suspense 54–5 Vásquez, Francisco, Palmerin D’Oliva 146, 153 Voegelin, Eric 240 Wagner, Matthew D. 4, 28, 33, 38, 49, 158, 193, 247, 257, 266 n.24 Walsh, Brian 79–80 Walton, Kendall L. 48, 267 n.1 Wars of the Roses 71 and Henry V 84–5, 89, 95 Wayne, Valerie 23, 247–59, 264 n.38

Weber, Samuel 270 n.3 Webster, John, The Duchess of Malfi 43 Weever, John, Epigrams 131 Weimann, Robert 303 n.16 Wheeldon, Christopher 18 White, Hayden 19–20 White, John 255 White, Paul Whitfield 304 n.19 Wiggins, Martin 144, 145 Wilkins, George, Painfull Adventures of Pericles 101–2, 102 Wilson, Emily R. 204 Wofford, Suzanne 120 women, and hatred 196–9, 200–4 wonder, in comedies 14, 17, 28, 40–1 Wood, Andy 85 Wood, Christopher see Nagel, Alexander Woolf, D. R. 84 Wordsworth, William 47–8 Woudhuysen, Henry 128 Wulff, Hans J. 50 Yanal, Robert J. 46 Yates, Julian 108 Yeager, R. F. 280 n.11 Zillmann, Dolf 44–5