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Spectacular Performances

Essays on theatre, imagery, books, and selves in Early Modern England

By Stephen Orgel

Spectacular Performances
Paperback

ALSO AVAILABLE IN OTHER FORMATS:

  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8169-9
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: October 2013
  • BIC Category: European history, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, The arts / Theatre studies, Humanities / British & Irish history, Early Modern History, History

Description

Why did Queen Elizabeth I compare herself with her disastrous ancestor Richard II? Why would Ben Jonson transform Queen Anne and her ladies into Amazons as entertainment for the pacifist King James? How do the concepts of costume as high fashion and as self-fashioning, as disguise and as the very essence of theatre, relate to one other? How do portraits of poets help create the author that readers want, and why should books, the embodiment of the word, be illustrated at all? What conventions connect image to text, and what impulses generated the great art collections of the early seventeenth century?

In this richly illustrated collection on theatre, books, art and personal style, the eminent literary critic and cultural historian Stephen Orgel addresses himself to such questions in order to reflect generally on early modern representation and, in the largest sense, early modern performance. As wide-ranging as they are perceptive, the essays deal with Shakespeare, Jonson and Milton, with Renaissance magic and Renaissance costume, with books and book illustration, art collecting and mythography.

Reviews

'He lays before us verbal and visual representations of title-pages, frontispieces, stage and costume designs by Inigo Jones, architectural splendors, portraits, maps, stage productions over the centuries, and still more, all informed by an extensive command of art history, intellectual history, humanist learning, the history of book illustration, and above all the history of every kind of theatrical representation. Stephen Orgel is himself the embodiment of the humanist scholar, and this present book is a rich repository of that great tradition...The present volume is a splendid collection of his work at its best.'
DAVID BEVINGTON, University of Chicago, Renaissance Quarterly

Contents

Illustrations
Previously published essays
Introduction
Part I The construction of the self
1. I am Richard II
2. Seeing through costume
3. Jonson and the Amazons
Part II Drama
4. Othello and the end of comedy
5. King Lear and the art of forgetting
6. The case for Comus
7. Completing Hamlet
Part III Books
8. Open secrets
9. Textual icons: reading early modern illustrations
10. Not his picture but his book
11. Plagiarism revisited
Part IV The visual arts
12. Devils incarnate
13. Ganymede Agonistes
Index

Author

Stephen Orgel is J. E. Reynolds Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University.

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