Elizabethan Drama, 1558-1642: A History of the Drama in England from the Accession of Queen Elizabeth to the Closing of the Theaters - Vol. 2

By Felix E. Schelling | Go to book overview

XV
THE ENGLISH MASQUE

HAD Ben Jonson never lived, the English masque would scarcely need to be chronicled among dramatic forms. For despite the fact that mumming, disguising, and dancing in character and costume were pastime's in England quite as old, if not older, than the drama itself, it is to Jonson that we owe the infusion of dramatic spirit into these productions, together with the crystallization of their discordant elements into artistic unity and form. Generically, the masque is one of a numerous progeny, of more or less certain dramatic affiliation. Specifically, a masque is a, setting, a lyric, scenic, and dramatic framework, so to speak, for a ball.1It is made up of "a combination, in variable proportions, of speech, dance, and song;" and its "essential and invariable feature is the presence of a group of dancers . . . called masquers."2. These dancers -- who range in number from eight to sixteen -- are commonly noble and titled people of the court. They neither speak nor sing, nor is it usual to exact of them any difficult or unusual figures, poses, or dances. Their function is the creation of "an imposing show" by their gorgeous costumes and fine presence, enhanced by artistic grouping, and by the aids which decoration and

The masquers.

The masque defined.

____________________
1
Soergel, Die englischen Maskenspiele, 1882, p. 14: "die Maske war anf¨nglich nicht mehr als ein improvisirter Maskenball."
2
Evans, The English Masque, 1897, p. xxxiv.

-93-

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Elizabethan Drama, 1558-1642: A History of the Drama in England from the Accession of Queen Elizabeth to the Closing of the Theaters - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents of Volume II v
  • XIII History and Tragedy on Classical Myth and Story 1
  • XIV The College Drama 51
  • XV The English Masque 93
  • XVI The Pastoral Drama 139
  • XVII Tragicomedy and "Romance" 182
  • XVIII Later Comedy of Manners 240
  • XIX Decadent Romance 307
  • XX The Drama in Retrospect 371
  • Bibliographical Essay 433
  • Index 625
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