Mucedorus: The Last Ludic Playbook, the First Stage Arcadia.

Kim Gilchrist

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Abstract

This article argues that two seemingly contradictory factors contributed to and sustained the success of the anonymous Elizabethan play Mucedorus (c. 1590; pub. 1598). Firstly, that both the initial composition of Mucedorus and its Jacobean revival were driven in part by the popularity of its source, Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. This is suggested by the play’s title and by comparing the publication and republication rhythms of the two texts. Secondly, the playbook’s invitation to amateur playing allowed its romance narrative to be adopted and repurposed by diverse social groups. These two factors combined to create something of a paradox, suggesting that Mucedorus was both open to all yet iconographically connected to an elite author’s popular text. This study will argue that Mucedorus pioneered the fashion for “continuations” or adaptations of the famously unfinished Arcadia, and one element of its success in print was its presentation as an affordable and performable version of Sidney’s elite work. The Jacobean revival of Mucedorus by the King’s Men is thus evidence of a strategy of engagement with the Arcadia designed to please the new Stuart monarchs. This association with the monarchy in part determined the cultural functions of the Arcadia and Mucedorus through the Interregnum to the close of the seventeenth century.

© 2017, Taylor and Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 14/05/2019) is an author produced version of a paper, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalSHAKESPEARE
Early online date14 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2017

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