Love and Conflict in Medieval Drama: The Plays and Their Legacy

Article excerpt

Muir, Lynette R. Love and Conflict in Medieval Drama: The Phys and Their Legacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. xv, 294.

This book is meant to be a companion volume to Muir's excellent The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) and designed to bring "serious stories from medieval sources" (1), yet Latin origins are not excluded. The author does not intend (or chooses not) to discuss farces and carnival plays (ibid.) ; nevertheless, some pieces which are known to be farces (e.g., France's famous Maître Pierre Pathelin [1470]) enter into consideration here as morality plays. We find retellings of saints' plays, romances, epics, and dramatized historical pieces.

Two of the four parts of Muir's compendium are devoted to the theme of the book's tide, love and war, and the stage legacies of these topics far into the modern periods. In a subchapter of her introduction, M. explains that she has imitated Alfred Jeanroy' s four divisions of plays: Marian legends, saints' lives and miracles, romanesque and heroic legends, and historic subjects fashioned as romances. Actually though, M.'s four parts contain different matters.

Part one, "War in Heaven: Saints and Sinners," speaks of martyrs, hermits, soldiers of Christ (Sts. Francis and Dominic; the Jesuits) - but no Marian legends appear. Part two, "Miracles of Salvation," brings conversions ofjews, mosdy farcical; the Play of St. Micholas; sacrament plays; the devil as adversary of Christians; Theophilus and Dr. Faustus. …