Article Title

Renaissance Power and Stuart Dramaturgy: Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Dryden himself was the first to comment on differences between Restoration and early Stuart drama, written by "the Gyant Race, before the Flood." Dryden frames his contrast entirely in stylistic terms, thus establishing precedent for generations of critical analysis to follow and laying the groundwork for one of the fundamental distinctions in British literary history-the distinction between late medieval (or "Gothic") style and its neo-classical successor. What Dryden described in purely aesthetic terms, however, is increasingly recognized to be political as well. Even Dryden's allusion to the "Gyant Race" is politically loaded and dismissive, as we shall see. With the political commitments of style clearly in mind, we can perceive greater continuity between Shakespeare and Milton than is sometimes recognized: in effect, Milton also belongs to the giant race that Dryden dismissed. What I want to suggest here is that. both Shakespeare and Milton respond to the dramaturgy of the Stuart court in the same way and for the same reason: because of a common· heritage of Christian political realism.

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