This book surveys Shakespeare's comedies, charting the influence upon them of the ancient playwrights, Plautus and Terence. Robert S. Miola analyses these sources, and places the comedies in their Renaissance context, as well as in the larger context of European theatre.
Discovering new indebtedness, and discerning new patterns in previously attested borrowings, Shakespeare and Classical Comedy presents an integrated and comprehensive assessment of the complex interactions of the Classical, Shakespearean, and other Renaissance theatres. Robert S. Miola re-evaluates Plautus and Terence in the light of their Greek antecedents, and gives special attention to Renaissance translations and commentaries, Italian theorists, and playwrights, as well as contemporary dramatists such as Middleton, Jonson, Heywood, and Chapman. Four broad categories organize the discussion - New Comedic errors, intrigue, alazoneia (pretension), and romance - and each is illustrated by illuminating readings of individual Shakespearean plays. The author keeps in view Shakespeare's eclecticism, his habit of combining disparate sources and traditions, as well as the rich history of literary criticism and theatrical interpretation. The book concludes by discussing the presence of New Comedy in tragedy, in Hamlet and King Lear.
Robert S. Miola's thoroughly researched book ranges over a vast amount of European drama, from Aristophanes to Beckett and Ionesco. It makes an important contribution to our understanding not only of Shakespeare and his foremost antecedents, but also of Renaissance theatre, and its complex adaptations of ancient texts and traditions.
`This book, a commendably swift follow-up to the author's Shakespeare and Classical Tragedy: The Influence of Seneca ... like its predecessor, digests a formidable amount of reading ... Robert Miola is a mature critic who has arrived at original insights by a long process of study and thought ... this book takes its place among the few really valuable books on Shakespeare's comedies.'
Brian Vickers, Centre for Renaissance Studies, ETH Zurich, MLR, 91.4, 1996
`of exceptionally high quality ... companion volume to his book on the tragedies ... and every bit as good ... His book is illuminating, lovingly attentive to its texts, and gracefully written.'