The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1993 Tuesday, 31 October 2000.
Date: Sunday, 29 Oct 2000 13:07:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Guilio Romano
Comment: SHK 11.1983 Re: Guilio Romano
Lupton's book, Afterlives of the Saints, is interesting because it
presents the Catholic case in a way that bypasses sectarian debates
about whether Shakespeare is Catholic or Protestant or whatever, though
Lupton's argument has implications about these things. The argument (to
put it in my own terms that Lupton might not recognize) is that
Shakespeare is filled with Catholic remnants, grotesque undigested
relics of the old religion, that keep intruding like old corpses onto
his stage. She sees these remnants as springboards (pardon these mixed
metaphors) to a post-Catholic theater nevertheless dependent on these
fragments still "encrypted" like some Lacanian Halloween skeleton in the
back seat. Lucio's comic "annunciation" to Isabella ("Hail virgin if
you be") is one of many examples, in a play that has old conflicting
martyr tales elbowing about (virgin resisting evil magistrate, anchorite
Angelo attacked by temptresses). Secularity wins out but "the case is
not closed" (137), like Barnardine's head, the relic of a Catholic
martyrdom "not fully subject to its Reformation into secular literature"
(140). In "The Winter's Tale", all those Catholic fragments (miraculous
statues etc.) are reanimated like old clothes on a scarecrow that turns
out to be Fred Astaire. Or better Catholicism is Astaire's artificial
leg which he somehow makes into something natural.
I am not sure what should be discussed, perhaps the following: what
mode does Shakespeare's Catholic heritage take in his works? Is there
more to be said? Is this a topic of interest to the list? Perhaps
there is the question: does the end of "The Winter's Tale" really
'deflate', as Lupton argues, the old Catholic iconography?