Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley

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Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley

Michael Simpson

ISBN10: 0804730954

ISBN13: 978-0804730952

Closet Performances: Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley

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Displaced to Italy by their politics and morals, Byron and Shelley wrote, between 1816 and 1823, a series of closet dramas that the author reveals as being deeply embedded in contemporary radical culture. Why did they write dramas in Italy that were to be published in England but not to be produced theatrically? Why do these dramas invoke and apparently oppose textual and theatrical versions of themselves? In answering these questions, this book addresses other questions about the historical invention of English literature, the relation between literature and drama, and the relation between literature and political culture.
The plays are shown to acquiesce in, and yet also resist, subvert, and ironize by means of a parodic self-censorship, the political, theatrical, and ecclesiastical censorship of the post-Waterloo period. The author argues that they not only explore questions of political action in their plots but also reconstruct, by reconvening, a radical audience that had been virtually eliminated in England during the period of the counterrevolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
Like the radical culture of the 1790's, Byron and Shelley's plays are informed by a "new" politics of language. Focusing on the discursive conditions of radical culture and the plays, and bringing the procedures of cultural materialism into contact with those of deconstruction, the author highlights the political and literary operation of the plays' language. In the process, he shows how the plays contributed to the recrudescence of a polite radicalism that sought to align itself with and establish control over its plebeian counterpart.
Detailed discussion of individual plays―Manfred, Sardanapalus, Prometheus Unbound, Marino Faliero, Hellas, Cain, Heaven and Earth, The Two Foscari, and The Cenci―is supported by investigations into Romantic criticism of the drama, the dynamics of the reviewing journals, and the philosophical construct of the "closet" of reasoning and reading.

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title Closet Performances
subtitle Political Exhibition and Prohibition in the Dramas of Byron and Shelley
authors Michael Simpson
publisher Stanford University Press
publishedDate 1998
description Revealing the series of closet dramas written by Byron and Shelley to be deeply embedded in contemporary radical culture, the author explains why the dramas were written and why they invoke and apparently oppose textual and theatrical versions of themselves.
pageCount 469
printType BOOK
categories Poetry
maturityRating NOT_MATURE
panelizationSummary
language en
canonicalVolumeLink https://books.google.com/books/about/Closet_Performances.html?hl=&id=RFn8Re6IgfUC

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