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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reading 1.0

For those of you roaring boys and girls with a soft spot for the history of the book -- and I know you're out there -- take a look at this on youtube ...


Tis the very thing, methinks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Love's Cure, or The Martial Maid

Freshest Advices: Our most dedicated Holzknechtian, Wat, sends along the following delightful summary of Beaumont, Fletcher, and Massinger's Love's Cure, which (like all good plays in the "Beaumont and Fletcher canon") contains a nice duel for your amusement. He writes: "I don't have Holzknecht handy, so perhaps it's summarized there as well, but I thought I'd write this up all the same." Since I do have my Holzknecht handy (I carry it around in my pocket at all times), I can report that no, Karl J. did not get around to summarizing this one. So here it is.

Love’s Cure or, The Martial Maid (Beaumont and Fletcher c.1606/ heavily revised by Massinger after c. 1629).

Assistente, or Governor
Vitelli, a young gentleman, enemy to Alvarez.
Lamorall, a fighting gallant, friend to Vitelli.
Anastro, an honest gentleman, friend to Vitelli.
Don Alvarez, a noble gentleman, father to Lucio and Clara.
Siavedra, a friend to Alvarez.
Lucio, Son to Alvarez, a brave young gentleman in womans habit.
Alguazier, a sharking pandarly Constable.
[Piorato, a swordsman]
Pachieco, a Cobler }
Mendoza, a Botcher } of worship
Metaldie, a Smith }
Lazarillo, Pachieco his hungry servant
Bobbadilla, a witty knave, servant to Eugenia, and Steward to Alvarez.
[Servants, pages, watch, guard, attendants]
Eugenia, a virtuous Lady, wife to Don Alvarez.
Clara, Daughter to Eugenia, a martial Maid, valiant and chaste, enamoured of Vitelli
Genevora, Sister to Vitelli, in love with Lucio.
Malroda, a wanton mistirise of Vitelli.

The Scene Sevil

Act I
In Seville, Vitelli reacts violently to the news that his enemy, Alvarez, and his ‘son’ have performed valiant deeds in Flanders and earned the Spanish King’s pardon for murdering Vitelli’s uncle. Alvarez and his ‘son’ return to Seville and rejoin Eugenia, who was pregnant when Alvarez departed. She bore him a son, but raised him as a daughter, ‘Posthumina,’ to protect him from Vitelli’s wrath. Vitelli bursts in on the reunion, but Alvarez’s cross-dressed virago/daughter, Clara, amazed at his valor, protects him from death.

Act II
Four buffoonish craftsmen berate Vitelli’s corrupt minion, Constable Alguazier, into treating them to a meal. Alvarez’s steward, Bobbadilla, mistreats the effeminate Lucio, who is not used to his sword, but suffers the buffets of Clara, who has a hard time accepting a passively feminine role. Vitelli comes to thank Alvarez’s son for protecting him, discovers that his defender was Clara, and the two fall in love.

Vitelli’s longtime mistress, Malroda, bribes Alguazier to serve as her bawd to the swordsman Piorato. When Bobbadilla hires Piorato to make Lucio act like a man, he mentions that Vitelli and Clara are in love. Piorato reveals this news to Malroda, hoping she’ll leave Vitelli. Malroda sneaks Piorato past Alguazier and Vitelli, picks a quarrel with her lover, and accuses him of throwing her over for Clara. Vitelli denies it and they appear to reconcile. Meanwhile, Clara refuses her mother’s proposed suitor, Siavedra. Piorato can’t make Lucio act more manly, but he reveals Vitelli’s longtime dalliance with Malroda to Clara, who demands visual proof that she’s been betrayed. Alguazier and the craftsmen plot a robbery.

Act IV
Vitelli leaves his sister Genevora with his friend Lamorall and goes to Malroda. Alguazier attempts Malroda, but Vitelli arrives and he skulks off. As Vitelli and his mistress reconcile, Piorato arrives above with Clara. He leaves her with his sword. She watches Malroda and Vitelli quarrel and reconcile again. Just as she despairs, Alguazier brings Piorato in to quarrel with Vitelli. In the confusion, the tradesmen enter and rob Vitelli, but Clara intervenes and everyone flees. She and Vitelli profess their love and he swears off whoring. Alguazier and the tradesmen count their spoils from Vitelli, then Alguazier leaves them to do more villainy. They spy on Alvarez and Bobbadilla who have taken Lucio to a dark alley and issued an ultimatum: fight with the next man and accost the next wench he sees, or be disowned. As Lucio reluctantly and comically attacks Lamorall and Genevora, the craftsmen join the melee. The chaos engulfs Alvarez and Bobbadilla as well. Lucio protects his father, redeeming his reputation, and absconds with Genevora. Alguazier arrives with the watch (including a disguised Assistente, the governor) to break up the scrum. He promises Alvarez that he will punish the rogues severely in private. Alone with them, Alguazier scoffs at civic authority and boasts of their successful schemes, only to suffer when Assistente unmasks. Lucio discovers the pleasure of kissing a woman other than his mother, but when Lamorall challenges him and takes Genevora’s glove-token, he backs down, earning Genevora’s scorn.

Act V
In a duel, Lucio disarms Lamorall but refuses to kill him and tries to console him about the loss of worthless honor. They part as friends. Vitelli arrives to tell Lamorall that the King has agreed to let Vitelli and Alvarez fight a duel to resolve the original dishonor of Vitelli’s uncle’s murder. Lamorall reluctantly agrees to be Vitelli’s second. Genevora receives a message from Clara asking for a secret meeting. Lucio arrives with tokens of his defeat of Lamorall and regains Genevora’s respect and desire. Alvarez and Lucio meet on the field of honor to fight Vitelli and Lamorall. Before they can fight, Eugenia, Clara, and Genevora enter above to try to persuade them to be reconciled. The women appeal to their beloveds, then to their kin, but the men are obstinate. Finally, they call in Bobbadilla with two swords and a pistol and demand that he kill them if the men raise their swords. At last, the men relent and all are reconciled. Assistente then pronounces punishments on Alguazier and his roguish friends, and the play ends with Alvarez and Vitelli commenting on the power of love to restore nature corrupted by custom.

A brief, generic epilogue (used as well with the Deserving Favorite in 1629) is printed at the end.

There is also a prologue from the play’s revival that praises the original wit of Beaumont and Fletcher, comparing them to Phidias and Apelles.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SAA Trimming

I'm in the process of cutting down a 45-page chapter into a 12-page SAA paper. Impossible, you say? Perhaps. I'm at 17 1/2 and counting.

UPDATE: Down to 14 pages plus a couple little orphaned sentences on page 15. Offloading into footnotes is a nice trick.

UPDATE 2: Done! I have no idea whether the thing is any good, but I'm rather proud of my ability to trim. I may have trimmed not only fat but every other part of the animal as well, but ...


Miserable, raining day here. So here's a non-early modern thing to raise the spirits. Every Friday, the Guardian has a cartoon from the marvellously-titled Perry Bible Fellowship. I think they're brilliant: freaky and weird. There's a web site featuring loads of them: http://pbfcomics.com

Friday, January 11, 2008


Not sure if this is the kind of thing one likes... but it was a great relief to me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Start of term. Chaos. Students everywhere, looking lost. My office an allegory of Chaos. My bicycle blocking the door. Unanswered post. Unanswered emails. Unread Guardians littering the floor like leaves. It's day four. I'm exhausted.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Karl Steel is smarter than Charlie Gibson

No, really, he is.

I saw this moment too during the debate, and just about fell off my couch.

And, yeah, I went to MLA: I saw (some good papers, some crazy), I spilled (ice cubes on a distinguished Renaissance scholar), I ate (way too much), I drank (not too much, but with people I like a lot). All in all, kind of an ideal MLA, though I still get freaked out by thousands of literature academics all in one place.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

MLA Snapshot

On my way to the airport post-MLA, I saw this actual Chicago building from the window of the cab. Naturally I grabbed my cellphone as quickly as possible but sadly the camera application takes a million years to load, and I missed it. Thanks to the magic of Google Image, however, I found this, which accurately recreates my view of the building. Behold! The Continental Paper Grading Company!

Man, I really could use their services...