Things Supernatural and Causeless: Shakespearean Romance

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University of Delaware Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 131 pages
"After centuries of denigration, Shakespeare's romances, in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, came to be seen by many critics as among Shakespeare's most profound works - as extensions of his tragic vision, as experiments in dramatic form, as deeply significant statements about art, about nature, about life. Marco Mincoff's Things Supernatural and Causeless - a work published in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1987, just before his death, but clearly written in the mid-1970s - sets out to show why this evaluation of the romances is wrong and to propose another way of looking at and evaluating Pericles and the plays that followed it." "For Mincoff, romance is "an inherently inferior genre" that, no matter what dramatic skills Shakespeare lavished on it, could never yield great drama. He argues that none of the romances has a profound message: whatever meaning one finds in Pericles, for instance, can be found just as readily in Apollonius of Tyre. Thus to look to these plays for greatness or for profound themes or ideas is to be inevitably disappointed or self-deluded." "What one does find in the romances, though, are plays that diverge sharply from their sources and analogues, and from other drama of the period, in the attention given to the creation of a sense of wonder. Mincoff finds, in the systematic control of language, crafting of scenes, and altering of sources in the plays, the suggestion of supernatural influence upon the play's action that exploits the "wonderful" inherent in Heliodorian romance. Mincoff suspects that "this sense of wonder really was important to Shakespeare," and finds Lafew's words (in All's Well That Ends Well) both a rather bitter commentary on Jacobean society and a clue to our better understanding of the romances:" ""They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear."" "Mincoff can spot that which is truly unusual in the romances because of his extensive knowledge of the other drama and other literature of the period and because of his ability to place the plays within the context of their own time. He places the above quotation, for example, within contemporary responses to skepticism; he discusses such dramaturgical devices as Presenters and expository supernumeraries in the context of other plays that Shakespeare's audiences would have been seeing; he is alert to the differences between our present-day understanding of life and language and that of Shakespeare's age, showing how words like art and nature are today understood in postromantic terms that make them far different words, representing far different concepts, from those used by Shakespeare in his romances."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
 

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Contents

Foreword by Jay L Halio
7
Pericles Prince of Tyre
27
Cymbeline
42
The Winters Tale
69
The Tempest
93
Notes
119
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