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Southcombe and G. Tapsell, Restoration politics, religion, and culture: Britain and Ireland, — Basingstoke, , ch. Google Scholar. Fenlon and T. Barnard eds. Gillespie, Reading Ireland: print, reading and social change in early modern Ireland Manchester, , chs. Burke died in Synopses of the changes include L. Aalen and K.

Literary reactions to the political climate

Whelan eds. Andrews Dublin, : —77; Google Scholar. Lawton and R. Lee eds. Cosgrove ed. Clark and B. Lepetit eds. Heron and M. Potterton eds. Ellenius ed. Llewellyn, J. Norman and M. Snodin eds. Airy ed. Eachard, An exact description of lreland London, , p. Kenyon eds. Cruickshanks ed.


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Carpenter, ed. CSPI, — , pp. CrossRef Google Scholar. Fletcher, Drama , pp. Ohlmeyer ed. Beckett, The cavalier duke: a life of James Butler — 1st duke of Ormond, — Belfast, , p. John Dunton, Teague land: or, a merry ramble with the wild Irish , ed. Andrew Carpenter Dublin, , p. RIA , C. Pike ed. In the film's rather Puritan framework, his physical disfigurement and loss of control over basic bodily functions at the end can be read as punishment for his 'sins', which do not seem to amount to much in the first place.

Still, he is symbolically castrated by the loss of his nose after mercury treatment, and symbolically placed on the marriage bed as a living corpse next to his still youthful wife.

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This libertine is recuperated not only in terms of religion we see Gilbert Burnet attend to him and Tory politics we see him make an impassioned speech in the House of Lords in support of the King against Exclusion but also in terms of his matrimonial and social status. Summing up his life to the audience, speaking from a darkened box in the theatre, he repeatedly questions the viewer: "Do you like me now?

It is difficult not to feel some sympathy for this unreformed rake who has been placed in a film that almost consistently works against him. You know I have been a King a decent while, a while longer than some people might allow — […] — and, what is more, I have knocked around among the Kingly sort, and there is a thing you find with your Kingly fucker.

As King, Charles II was well aware of the need of personally embodying an abstract idea of kingship, even in the manner in which an actor embodies or impersonates a part. As Stephen Greenblatt argues in Renaissance Self-Fashioning , "kingship always involves fictions, theatricalism, and the mystification of power". Charles was no exception: he expected his entourage of courtiers, wits and poets to collude in this theatrical mystification and to generate spectacles of legitimization both inside and outside the closed-off but semi- permeable world of his court.

Poems like John Dryden's Astraea Redux, Annus Mirabilis or Absalom and Achitophel, plays like Samuel Tuke's The Adventures of Five Hours or semi-operas like Albion and Albanius scripted by Dryden in or Dryden's and Purcell's King Arthur drafted in were originally designed to augment the king's fame and to convey his ideational and real presence in print as well as on stage and in the streets. Even in Dryden's most celebratory panegyrics, the king is frequently presented as an actor who performs kingship see Gordon Stage Beauty shows a court in which nothing seems more important than theatre, in particular Shakespeare.

Restoration court life has been described, rightly or wrongly, as "a picture of high-spirited frivolity and triviality, a boisterous and silly adolescence" Thomson , and it is certainly presented as such in this film. At no point is the monarch taken seriously.

Book Culture And Society In The Stuart Restoration: Literature, Drama, History 1995

Very much in the spirit of Rochester's satires, we see a 'prick-ruled', balding Charles amongst his spaniels in bed, about to be fellated by Nell Gwyn "let me see the crown". No rightful queen ever intrudes between this couple of king and mistress. In a later scene, we see Charles and Nell engage in semi-private theatricals, rehearsing for a "musical" a masque? This scene constitutes a comic intensification of the main theme of cross- dressing, theatricality and gender, as it is in this setting that Kynaston is then asked to perform in the role of Othello and to play "all that is bold and strong and masculine in a man".

Here, performance is power. For Kynaston, however, an actor of lowly origins who is forced to live — or die — by performance, the negotiation of gender identity and different roles, sexual or otherwise, is a matter of life and death, and to cross the boundary between performance and life can be life- threatening. From the swinging sixteen- sixties, we are taken to a rather bleak , when, as the opening titles tell the viewer, "general rejoicing" and, yes, "binge drinking" have given way to "the hangovers" kicking in.

Malkovich's Charles is neither witty nor extravagant. The only physical exertion we see him perform is his early morning constitutional in the park. The only 'creature comforts' are being provided by his dogs. In one scene, the King and his male entourage are shown admiring a large mechanical world clock, in reference to his documented interest in speculative science, which — in the words of one biographer — was "more fashionable than profound" Seaward, para.

Dunmore's and Malkovich's Charles is a stiff and stubborn, perhaps even slightly stupid figure, whose face hardly ever betrays an expression of emotion or genuine interest in anything. Rather anachronistically, he wishes Rochester to write the definitive Restoration play and to become 'his' Shakespeare. He wants "writing, something profound that will stand as a monument to my reign.

The pairing of Charles and Rochester, however, is one of the most suggestive moments in the film. In one scene, we even see them walk hand in hand. This kind of male bonding in terms of a father-son relationship also fits well with the age difference between Malkovich and Depp; it suits the film's doubling of an emotionally repressed, aging king with a debauched young earl.

This suggestiveness is heightened when we learn that Malkovich had previously played Rochester in stage performances of Jeffreys's play in Chicago see Galloway. Rochester's decaying body is another, younger version of the King's. Whereas Charles II stiffly performs the 'body politic', Rochester's 'body natural' slowly disintegrates and begins to rot away. Probably 4 For these terms, see the classic account in Kantorowicz Then a twelve-foot phallus is rolled on stage, its scrotum in the shape of Britain, aiming at a large behind that is shaped like France.

Rochester himself, dressed up to look like Charles, emerges from a door in the backdrop painted to represent a vulva. In this film, it is Rochester — the King's double — who receives oral sex from a girl on stage. The resulting scandal forces him into hiding for a while, and this coincides with the beginning of his decline in health caused by syphilis. After six months in concealment, the King finds him only to explain that he now has greater things to worry about than Rochester and that he will henceforth ignore him.

Disappointed and angry, the earl returns to his country house at Atterbury and to his wife, who nurses him. In their final backstage meeting in London, Elizabeth Barry is strong and independent, while Rochester is a broken man. He returns to his wife to die. From the deathbed, the film cuts to a re-enactment of Rochester's death on stage with Barry, closing with a crane shot around the gallery, the audience applauding, and Rochester — like at the film's beginning — seated in a darkened box, summing up his life and directly addressing the viewer. It is difficult to imagine a film like The Libertine to have been made during the s or s.

Its 'take' on Restoration culture is surprisingly Puritan; there is no 'sympathy for the devil' in it unless we understand sympathy as distanced compassion. In focusing on the late s rather than the early s, it emphasizes the crises and cracks in the veneer of public support for the Restoration settlement. Rochester is presented as a rebel against social conventions, a representation that only begins to make sense in the first place because the film contrasts him with a rather uptight Charles II as representing the 'establishment'.

This image would fall apart if surrounded by the 'vices' and excesses of the Restoration court, where the historical Rochester actually seems to have fitted in quite well. But this rebel without much of a cause is not celebrated but contained. Obviously, the film can also be read as a sign of the times, a disillusioned descant on the promises of sexual and political liberation of the s. Those viewers still hoping for a more 'definitive' film about seventeenth-century England will have to keep waiting, perhaps for a post-post-heritage cinema, although it is hard to see how such a film could ever appeal to a mass audience.

Or can one say, perhaps, that both of the films discussed here, less deliberately than by accident, offer an only slightly flawed representation of the "arbitrary mix of hedonism and repression" Turner that characterised Restoration England? In the pithy analysis of Steven N. Zwicker, those aspects are: irony, modernity and miscellany.

As Zwicker argues, political instability and opportunism were rampant in Restoration England; irony and generic mixture, masquerade and satire functioned as aesthetic techniques of dealing with such instability. If, in this view, the restoration of the monarchy in was itself at least partially an ironic and anachronistic event "the fixing of old forms atop new facts" , irony was its most appropriate cultural reflex and its most representative literary mode, evoking "the necessity of familiar political and spiritual and cultural formations while compromising their authority and denaturing their integrity" Zwicker Irony, in other words, constituted the most convincing and 'modern' poetics of Restoration culture: it embodied and celebrated a stability of the 'as if' cf.

Vaihinger and a concomitant, endlessly suspended belief in consciously contrived and promulgated "fictions of state" Love Any reader of Lyotard, Baudrillard or Jameson will probably concur that this could also be an acceptable description of contemporary 'postmodern' or late capitalist societies.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Queen of England

To these features, one might add a less literary and more performance-oriented category, that of pervasive theatricality. Theatricality constitutes a strong connecting link between past and present. In both films discussed here, Shakespeare functions as a central cultural mediator. His work is always perceived as contemporary cf.

Kott ; to revive it is not only to re-connect with a cultural ideal but even with the very power source of theatre as such.

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Shakespeare's status in both films is as unquestioned as it is today, and as it certainly was not in the s and s. He can thus be seen to function as a guarantor of continuity between versions of a more or less idealized cultural past also known as 'heritage' and a postmodern present marked by a melancholy attachment to a lost 'Golden Age', variously located in the s, the s or the s. Both Stage Beauty and The Libertine use theatricality as a pervasive metaphor and a catalyst of desire and transgression of established norms.

However, both films ultimately cover up and seek to contain the emancipatory potentials of a free-floating transitionality between genders and sexual orientations within a stable and rigid social grid of power relations. In Stage Beauty, the plot is one of cure and therapy that leads to the 'rediscovery' of a normative heterosexual identity; in The Libertine, we get a cautionary tale that, in its moralistic tone and sombre lighting, is reminiscent of the medieval morality play.

There is no joy in the libertinism of The Libertine, nor in the gender-bending of Stage Beauty. Theatrical performances, with their scripted patterns of enabling constraint and their highly artificial and artful codes of production and reception, mirror and expose the constraining and equally non-natural codes of social and cultural performativity outside the theatre.

But one might also register some concern about the glibness and superficial ease with which Stage Beauty handles these negotiations of gender and power, so prominent in the original play, by defusing the fascinating and challenging ambiguities of its protagonist in a conventional 'Hollywood ending' and in a 'historicizing' aesthetics of spectacle that conforms to the visual standards of contemporary mainstream cinema as much as it corresponds to conventional moral standards of heteronormative sexuality.

Putting the Restoration stage back on stage is one thing; transferring it to film, interestingly enough, results in something completely different. The awareness of this media difference may be the main strength of The Libertine with its much darker palette and natural lighting that leads to a grainy and grimy look — a somber dirtiness that, like the film's narrative, manages to capture more intensely its protagonist's fractured and fractious personality and the Restoration period's pervasive sense of multiple, irresoluble contradictions.

In the original plays, theatre functions as a site of potential and actual resistance to cultural and social norms of gender and sexual politics. In the films, these norms are questioned but finally reinscribed and re-affirmed. Rebellion and resistance in these films are confined to the enclosed space of the stage, incapable of leaving that space in order to be translated into 'real life'. This may well be a consequence of the adaptation from stage to screen, from plays that thrive on direct interaction with a live audience to films that pretend to present a closed, even 'historically accurate' imagined world and, in the process, fill in too many gaps for the viewer's presumed benefit.

As Shakespeare films begin to expand their purview to a wider historical field of post-Shakespearean and pseudo-Shakespearean cinema a burgeoning area of both popular entertainment and scholarship ,5 one may find it hard not to object to the superficiality with which the joys and challenges of theatricality and performativity are flattened out by an aesthetics of spectacle. The rest, as Ezra Pound so memorably phrased it , , is dross — be it ever so splendidly dressed.

See Jackson; Burt; Lehman and Starks. Munich: Beck, Austin, J. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford UP, Backscheider, Paula R. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, By Philip H. Highfill, Jr. Burnim, and Edward A. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, Burt, Richard, ed. Shakespeare after Mass Media. New York: Palgrave, Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, Bodies that Matter.

On the Discursive Limits of "Sex". Excitable Speech. A Politics of the Performative. Callow, John. Online ed. Lawrence Goldman. May Chetwood, W. London: Printed for W. Owen, Davies, Thomas. London: Printed for the Author, —4.


  • Clay Daniel - Milton and the Restoration: Some Reassessments – Connotations.
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  • Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the year 1868.
  • Downes, John. Roscius Anglicanus, or, an Historical Review of the Stage. London: Printed and Sold by H. Playford, With Additions, by the late Mr. Thomas Davies. London: Printed for the Editor, Dunmore, Laurence, dir. The Libertine. Odyssey Entertainment, Entertainment in Video, Ellis, Frank H. Theoretische Grundlegung und Anwendungsperspektiven. Berlin: de Gruyter, Eyre, Richard, dir.


    • More on English literature Early modern, 1500-1700 History and criticism?
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    • Stage Beauty. Lions Gate, Galloway, Stephen. Gibson, Pamela Church. Changes in the Heritage Film. Robert Murphy. London: BFI, Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, Frame Analysis. Cambridge, Mass. Gordon, Scott Paul. Renaissance Self-Fashioning. From More to Shakespeare. Chicago: U of Chicago P, Hatcher, Jeffrey. Compleat Female Stage Beauty. New York: Dramatists Play Service, Higson, Andrew. Lester Friedman. English Heritage, English Cinema. Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds.

      The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, Jackson, Russell, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film. Jeffreys, Stephen. Kantorowicz, Ernst H. The King's Two Bodies. A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology. Princeton: Princeton UP, Klein, Thomas. Ernst und Spiel. Mainz: Bender, Stage Beauty und das Unbehagen der Geschlechter im Theaterfilm.

      Kott, Jan. Shakespeare Our Contemporary. Boleslaw Taborski. Garden City: Doubleday, Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror. An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia UP, Lehman, Courtney, and Lisa S. Starks, eds. Spectacular Shakespeare. Critical Theory and Popular Cinema. Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, Love, Harold.

      Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England. Oxford: Clarendon, Milling, J. Monk, Claire. A Sight and Sound Reader. Ginette Vincendau. London: British Film Institute, Nietzsche, Friedrich. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. Pepys, Samuel. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Robert Latham and William Matthews.