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'Social things': the production of popular culture in the reception of Robert Greene's 'Pandosto.'

sport, / Yet you your selves become no currish creatures" (9). The link back to Lyly seals the familiar associations between books and lapdogs, between pleasure-reading and women's leisure and desire. Wall (note 47) also reads this passage as creating a "market of salacious buyers and sellers" for the commodified book (205). It is also possible that the relationship between Rowland's frame and dedication evinces resistance to women entering bookshops during this period.

52 Like the many works written around Greene's death. Greenes Ghost Haunting Coniecatchers appropriates Greene's soul, or at least his name. It is no accident that this book replaces the copy of Greene's Conny-catching that the Tis Merrie apprentice lacks: Rowlands was engaging in cross-marketing of a In the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean years, increasing literacy and a growing publishing industry stimulated expansion of the popular literary audience; that is, of the diverse group of non-elite men and women who read print for pleasure.(1) The period's unprecedented output of new prose fiction titles offers critical access to that growing audience, but most twentieth-century criticism of early modern prose fiction has considered the popular audience only in order to cordon it off from an elite literary audience.(2) According to the dominant binary model of the genre, the elite Sidney circle inspired a few artful masterpieces (The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, and now The Countess of Montgomeries Urania), while the burgeoning popular audience triggered a new business of hack writing.(3) When we follow Roger Chartier's example in discarding that "simple opposition of populaire versus savant," we can recognize instead that the early modern effort to marginalize popular print culture responded to this rapid diversification in the reading audience.(4) The category we now recognize as 'popular culture' was constituted socially, as a reclassification of early print forms that had originated within a "collective culture ... from which the dominant classes or the various elites only slowly distanced themselves."(5) Early modern print fiction, in particular, had circulated among other socially diverse cultural practices; like other such practices, fiction consumption was increasingly linked to social differentiation. As early modern England became a print-reading culture in which readers, authors, and texts proliferated, the socially and culturally elite found the need for a boundary between elite and popular cultures more acute than ever before. The growing collection of cultural commodities that we now call early modern print fiction was repositioned by a discourse that sought to distinguish elite from popular culture, and that discourse has delimited our understanding of early fiction ever since.

Modern critical dismissals of early modern fiction have typically been justified in aesthetic terms, which nonetheless betray a deeply social discomfort in their regular invocations of contemporary cultural prejudices. Consider, for example, this opening comment on the "Sources of the Play" in the Yale edition of The Winter's Tale:

The Winter's Tale is an excellent example of a novel turned into a play. That practice was common in Elizabethan times as in recent years; but with this difference, that the drama in Shakespeare's time was usually an improvement on the novel and in our own day is usually a popularized degradation of the original.(6)

This passage's proliferation of aesthetic judgments, in which the hierarchy of the genres repeatedly reverses itself, ultimately reveals itself as an unchanging prejudice against any form of "popularized degradation." The passage plays Elizabethan and modern popular texts off against one another, to mutual disadvantage. Its preference for Shakespearean drama over Elizabethan fiction is inseparable from its rejection of popular culture in any period.

Such social-cum-aesthetic judgments are ideologies of distinction, as Pierre Bourdieu calls the process by which the selective criticism of one group's cultural forms serves to define, normalize, buttress or even create the tastes of another group.(7) Critical dismissal of early modern prose fiction--in the seventeenth century as in the twentieth--reinforces those readers' predilections for elite cultural forms by devaluing more widely accessible forms of cultural capital. This dynamic of distinction has been at work throughout the critical history of prose fiction; the judgments of modern fiction criticism have devalued early modern popular fiction precisely because they have inherited a class-driven impulse to do so. The centuries-long attack on the romance, which would lead critics eventually to articulate the theory of the novel, arose from the desire of elite audiences to devalue the leisure-reading habits of newly literate, and thus disturbingly mobile, lower classes. At the same time, the exaggerated appetite for antifictional remarks betrays the early modern elite's considerable familiarity with, and interest in, the non-exclusive pleasures of the romance.

Among twentieth-century critics, too, nostalgic fascination with the romance has been bound up with universal disdain for popular readers. Writing soon after Pierce, Muriel St. Clare Byrne gave a patronizing summary of popular literature's role within Elizabethan Life in Town and Country:

Most Elizabethan books were wonder-books to their readers.... Pamphlet upon plagiaristic pamphlet thrilled honest country folk and sober citizens with anatomies of roguery, [and] the whole art of conny-catching.... [A]lthough this popular exploitation of the printing press had begun, it had not as yet been able to destroy the older art of story-telling. Hand in hand with the marvels of the modern world went the oldest of old things--the strange happenings and the quaint beliefs that for generation after generation had been handed down in a winter's tale.(8)

Byrne employs familiar ideological strategies to marginalize the popular as a transhistorical and non-literary category. But her details serve a more specific purpose: they compose a picture of an Elizabethan hack who wrote of rogues and coney-catchers, who "plagiarized" from others and from himself, and, finally, who did not disdain to borrow the lower classes' oral winter's tales for his own mercenary uses. That representative hack, symbol of the emerging popular literary marketplace, is of course Robert Greene, and the ultimate winter's tale is his greatest hit, Pandosto, or the Triumph of Time (first extant edition 1588). The anxieties Greene has excited among modern critics--about popular literacy, plagiarism, roguery, superstition, and mimetic imaginings--had all emerged in the first generation after Pandosto's publication. It is these early emanations of anxiety, from elite critics and also from Shakespeare, that constituted the category of popular literature as it emerged in Jacobean England.


No work could be more appropriate than Greene's Pandosto for an analysis of the early seventeenth-century production of antifictional and antipopular cultural judgments. For one thing, criticism has traditionally assigned Pandosto a symbolic role in which work and author alike are traitors to the cause of high literature: Greene, the university wit turned into desperate hack; Pandosto, the aristocratic romance eventually marketed as pulp.(9) Both work and author cross that tenuous boundary between elite and popular cultures, demonstrating and problematizing its demarcation in critical retrospect. This putative violation subjects Greene to particular critical disapproval, some of which is transferred from Shakespeare, another author who wrote for heterogeneous audiences but cannot as easily be assailed for doing so. The debate over the relative values of Pandosto and its famous stage adaptation has permitted critical anxieties about Shakespeare's more vulgar elements, including the folk-tale elements of The Winter's Tale, to be exorcised through attacks on his "paltry" source story, a winter's tale in print.(10) But this supposed gulf between Greene and Shakespeare, between merely popular works and works of genius, is a later projection, a self-protective myth of modern criticism that retroactively constructs Shakespeare as an elite author. To Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences, Pandosto and The Winter's Tale both were carried in a broad cultural mainstream, one only beginning to be troubled, as the play's relationship to its prose source will show, by separating currents of elite and popular culture.

By the early twentieth century, Shakespearean source studies had uncovered the pervasiveness of Pandosto and the remarkable popularity of its author, to the extent that the subject of popular pleasure reading called Greene inevitably to Byrne's mind. What Byrne and Pierce did not know was that Pandosto was literally the favorite "wonder book" of the seventeenth century, the century's best-selling work of non-didactic fiction, according to Charles Mish's 1953 listing of seventeenth-century fiction best-sellers.(11) Mish found that Pandosto went through "some eighteen editions" over the century.(12) My research has brought the count of extant seventeenth-century editions up to twenty-one, plus no fewer than sixteen surviving eighteenth-century editions, many abridged.(13) The probable first edition of circa 1585, which has left its only ghostly trace in the inventory of a forgotten bookshop, was followed by the first surviving edition, of 1588, and further reissues in 1592, 1595, 1600, 1607, 1609, and 1614.(14) Thus, Pandosto was reprinted at about four-year intervals through the Jacobean period, a reissue rate that indicates steady sales, and large ones by early modern standards.(15) Pandosto's centrality proves to be statistical as well as symbolic.

Reasoning backward from Pandosto's continued popularity to the conditions of its debut, Mish concurred with Byrne's view that early popular fictions were antiquated fairy tales, foisted by cheap publishers on a captive audience of naive citizens who deserved their marginal status. I prefer to see Pandosto as a work whose attractions to multiple audiences gave it sufficient canonical momentum to outstrip other Elizabethan competitors and to become a long-term classic within the canon of popular romance.(16) Ironically, Pandosto's survival as a popular classic was made possible by its artful mixture of Elizabethan literary fashions. It anticipated Sidney's Arcadia, then unpublished, in combining elements from various romance subgenres: rhetorical setpieces a la Euphues, sylvan settings from the pastoral romances, and melodramatic turns of Fortune's wheel borrowed from the newly rediscovered Greek romances. The love story of Fawnia, the shepherdess who turns out to be a lost princess, delicately balanced the Elizabethan obsession with social mobility against a conservative desire to preserve the status quo.(17) Even its two titles, Pandosto on the title page and The historie of Dorastus and Fawnia in the running title, advertise the romance's synthesis of literary modes, in which the tragedy of a jealous king frames the happy love story of a second generation.(18)

The adaptability of Pandosto and Greene's other romances to diverse cultural literacies can be traced to Greene's dual literary parentage in both the essentially oral (rhetorical) training of the humanist university and the primarily print-based world of the Elizabethan book trade. Greene's publications were well suited for the early modern transitional period in which, as Chattier puts it, "different media and multiple practices ... mingled in complex ways."(19) After all, Greene transformed himself from a coterie author publishing works written in a manuscript tradition to a popular author whose works were conceived for print dissemination: he was a pioneer in discovering the possibilities for planned popularity, and in recognizing the nature of the book as commodity. In his few remaining years after the publication of Pandosto, Greene recreated himself as the 'first' Grub Street writer, the Ur-hack, employing such self-marketing strategies as publishing numerous short repetitive pamphlets instead of more developed volumes, advertising his forthcoming titles in prefatory blurbs, cultivating specialties in genre fiction, and creating media events around his risky crime-world allegations, his various repentances, and even his death.(20)

Greene's career is distinguished from those of many others before him who wrote for a living, through patronage or publication, by his making the trade of authorship part of a marketable professional identity. As the 1592 Repentance confides, "I became an Author of Playes, and a penner of Love Pamphlets, so that I soone grew famous in that qualitie, that who for that trade growne so ordinary about London as Robin Greene."(21) Greene felt he had become better known than any competitor in the "qualitie" of an author of dubious genres. In that profligate "trade," his name was as "ordinary"--familiar, commonly found--on title page and playbill as his person was in the theaters and taverns. Greene's consciousness of his role as producer of commodities for the cultural marketplace should not be exaggerated: to say that Greene did "what no man had done before him, he wrote to sell" is to overstate Greene's calculation, his novelty, and his control over a changing industry.(22) What can be observed is that one reason for members of the Elizabethan and Jacobean elite to degrade Pandosto as popular culture was that the very name of its author had become a synonym for the literary text as commodity. Greene's position, combining the careless grace of the cultured amateur and the self-conscious textual and strategic control of the published professional, registers historical changes in the author-function, changes that accelerated the development of a distinguishable popular culture.


The recreation of Greene as a mere figurehead of popular culture began promptly. By the mid-Jacobean period, claims had arisen that his readers were naive and semi-literate. It was only 1615 when an Overburian Character typified "A Chamber-mayde" by her taste for Greene: "She reades Greenes workes over and over."(23) Overbury's Character charges that Greene's romances have become so popular with servants that they are objects of elite mirth, but the romances' material history does not corroborate this alleged drop from the cultural centrality of only thirty years before.(24) Indeed, over those years when the romance was said to be declining, the text of Pandosto remained remarkably stable. It was reproduced page for page, virtually type for type. In the context of seventeenth-century practices in textual reproduction, characterized by D. F. McKenzie as "the normality of non-uniformity," this respectful reproduction is a meaningful lack of news.(25) Even the identical wording of the front matter shows that Greene's name and his self-advertising formulae were still attractive markers for buyers. This textual stability was matched by geographical stability: every edition of Pandosto from 1588 up through 1619 was issued from the same bookseller's shop, the Great Bible near the North Door of St. Paul's.(26) The printers who successively occupied that shop in St. Paul's Churchyard enjoyed a location central to the City's book trade. The printers' careful transfers of the romance, together with their frequent and accurate reissues, demonstrate Pandosto's valued place in their stock-in-trade.(27)

Overbury portrayed his social inferior reading a degraded book, but the text of that book was materially the same as it had been a generation before. He mentioned Greene's works as though they had been cheapened by the marketplace, but the price of a given Greene text, based on its unchanged length, also would have remained the same from 1588 to 1615.(28) Pandosto had decades to go before it would be digested and discounted in the form of a cheap chapbook: the process of popularization significantly preceded the recommodification of the book.(29)

Overbury vilified Greene's works not just before they were recommodified, but even before they had passed from the cultural mainstream to cultural marginality. Telling this anecdote in 1615, while readers well above the servant class were still happily reading Greene "over and over," Overbury launched an ideological defense against widening access to contemporary print culture. By this date, Greene's romances had already found a socially diverse audience; it was too late to prevent less-privileged readers from joining their social superiors in consuming these literary works of elite origin. Instead, Overbury and other allies deployed the discourse of distinction to redefine their cultural privilege by changing the reputation of Greene's romances from fashionable to fusty. Between 1592 and 1615, a variety of writers, including not only Overbury but also Thomas Nashe, Gabriel Harvey, Samuel Rowlands, and William Shakespeare, used their highly selective accounts of Greene's readership to reshape the status of the public literary marketplace.

In reading anecdotes like Overbury's, and the others that follow, as traces not of popular cultural consumption but of elite ideological production, I am guided by Marx's warning about how commodities misrepresent the social relations among their producers and consumers. In Capital's discussion of the "fetishism of commodities," a crucial passage for theories of ideology, Marx marvels that when the products of human labor become commodities, they take on the "grotesque," "wonderful," and "mysterious" quality of being "social things."(30) In a commodity, "the social character of men's labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of their own labour": the commodity becomes a text recording new social relations that replace those erased from the marketplace.(31) The producers of commodities then find that:

the relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, material relations between persons and social relations between things.(32)

Once mass production abstracts human labor from its products and the capitalized marketplace alienates producers from consumers, commodities become "social things"; apparently inanimate objects begin to lead lives of their own, with their own interrelations of exchange, hierarchy, and symbolism. Although early modern London was not a fully-developed capitalist society, its printed books were undeniably commodities on a notably free market, and the relationships among those commodities and their purchasers enacted the confusion and alienation that Marx describes. So it is that anecdotes about Jacobean books make socially-motivated distinctions, describing "social relations among things": Greene's works enter into a grotesquely imaginative social mythology. And anecdotes about Jacobean readers reduce social relations to impersonal economic judgments, describing "material relations among persons": the multiplicity of readers is reduced to stereotypes of class and profession.

As Chartier's work reminds us, material relations are not sufficient to explain the variety of early modern cultural practices; social hierarchy alone could not dictate who would buy and read Pandosto in late Elizabethan or Jacobean England. In early modern England, social status became a less reliable determinant than specific occupation in the distribution of literacy (location and religion also became increasingly significant variables). Social class forbade literacy to no one; it excluded from fiction readership only those lacking proximity to booksellers and a threshold level of discretionary income and time.(33) Among those who could afford to buy fiction, those who actually did so shared two characteristics that, although class-linked, were not identical to class position: an interest in novelty (intensified by participation in urban life), and a willingness to buy and read fiction for pleasure. These twin appeals of novelty and pleasure had been Greene's keys to an Elizabethan audience too broad and various to be labeled exclusively elite or popular.

The problem that arose for elite readers in the following generations was that these shared tastes for novelty and pleasure crossed other cultural boundaries that seemed ideological necessities in an era of social climbing. After the events of 1592--the criminal pamphlets, the allegations of sordid death--made Greene notorious and his popularity proverbial, elite readers must have found that a taste for any of his works put them in unsavory compeny.(34) The reaction of elite Jacobean commentators on Greene's work was to reject an author whose now-familiar pleasures they no longer dared to share with their social inferiors. The popularization of Pandosto in the early seventeenth century is not what it appears: the book did not change audiences, dropping to unfashionable readers, but lost only the elite members of its original audience, who dissociated themselves from their former preference.

By the Jacobean period, widening access to cultural commodities had become a highly visible marker of the uncertain ground of social difference; negative comments about Greene's works tended to focus on the romances' status as commodities. The commodification of books was blamed on their buyers, as those gentlefolk who wished that books be exempt from trade assumed that it was other classes of customers--tradesmen, servants, craftsmen--whose acts of buying turned books into commodities. In elite depictions of the commodified marketplace, the customers themselves are anonymous and stereotypical, reduced to their status labels; instead, antifictional energies are focused on the fetishized objects and spatial settings of cultural consumption. Thus, as the reputations of Pandosto and of Greene himself became fields for contesting popular access to pleasure reading, this contest was imaginatively staged in the bookshop, the place where the commodification of literature was laid bare to all classes.


In the Greene-Harvey-Nashe controversy of 1592, the dispute over Greene's moral and literary value turned on the problem of his popularity. Nashe exaggerated the late author's popularity for the sake of polemic; even while supposedly defending Greene against Harvey, Nashe associated him with low-status readers.(35) In Four Letters Confuted Nashe trivialized Greene's worth even as he asserted it: "Of force I must graunt that Greene came oftner in print than men of judgment allowed off, but neverthelesse he was a daintie slave to content the taile of a Tearme, and stuffe Serving mens pockets."(36) Nashe's comments are accurate to a point: Greene did publish frequently rather than carefully, and did gratify his readers with pastimes.

But Nashe places Greene's works in a more damaging social context by representing their proper audience as "Serving men" who stuff these trifling stories into their pockets. His image resonates strikingly with John Lyly's self-deprecation in the 1580 preface to Euphues and his England, where the pleasurable text passes quickly from its fashionable lady reader's "lap" or "pocket" to her "waiting maid."(37) Lyly had described his work as a toy for women; Nashe imagined the author of such toys as a "daintie slave," both less masculine and less free than his servant reader. The repetition of this motif, despite the differences between a courtly romance and a sensation pamphlet, demonstrates that in the minds of elite readers, the intimacy of fiction reading is peculiarly subject to transfer from fashionable enjoyers of leisure to their servile followers. Nashe's comment also contains a clue, however, that this slur is concocted, for in speaking of passing "the taile of a Tearme" by reading Greene, he plainly referred to the experience of a social group in which he included himself. This group may have been the young hangers-on about the Inns of Court, or more broadly, the social class whose legal and financial business brought them to London during the season. If reading Greene was a pastime that was not quite novel, it was nonetheless strongly associated with the minglings of cosmopolitan life.(38) Still, by 1592 those minglings were already socially promiscuous enough to induce the shame that Nashe displaced onto imagined reading servants.

Ironically, those cosmopolitan desires were essential to the success of not only Greene's romances, but also the Greene-Harvey-Nashe pamphlets themselves. In his attacks on Greene's popularity, Harvey decried those tastes for novelty and pleasure, but ruefully admitted that many of his well-educated acquaintance did not.(39) In a paraleptic attack on the late Greene in the third of Four Letters of 1592, Harvey wrote,

I will not condemne, or censure his workes, which I never did so much as superficially overrunne, but as some fewe of them occursively presented themselves in Stationers shops, and some other houses of my acquaintaunce.(40)

At the homes of friends or in the shops he frequented, Harvey claimed he could not avoid happening on works that struck his eye as a curse. Much of Harvey's horror at Greene's popularity stemmed from his realization that print was a proto-democratizing force, that a stationer's shop was a place where readers of various levels of cultural privilege, drawn by promises of pleasure and novelty, could peruse and select from texts for many tastes. Certainly the taste for novelty itself offended Harvey. Reflecting on Greene's prolific issue of "new, newer, & newest books," Harvey wrote "I would some Buyers had either more Reason to discerne, or lesse Appetite to desire such Novels."(41) The word "novel" encoded a struggle between antifictional prejudices and fiction-readers' desires that would later name an emergent genre.

Harvey's obsession with novelty and the marketplace, his bibliagoraphobia, if you will, reflects mixed longing and loathing for print, the impulses of a prolific controversialist struggling with the training of a humanist. Harvey's rhetoric, but not his practice, remained loyal to pre-print culture. A generation later, such elitist fear of contamination in the bookshop would become an affectation of Jacobean coterie culture. Richard Niccols wrote in 1614: "Many idle humorists whose singularity allowes nothing good, that is common, in this frantik age, esteeme of verses upon which the vulgar in a Stationers Shop, hath once breathed as of a peece of infection."(42) But even by Harvey's time, the vast majority of readers had reconciled themselves to entering into the free-market conditions of the bookstore, and sought to distinguish themselves by their selections within it.

The bookshop was a space for public consumption of once-exclusive goods. Its environs temporarily brought together classes that normally would have been separated: leisured gentleman, unschooled laborer. Elite commentators reacted to the anomalous experience of entering a bookshop where men in crafts or service "occursively presented themselves," as Harvey put it, buying and reading books for pleasure. These elite reactions characteristically designated the new readers only by the trade they were trained to perform, following a traditional pattern in which a non-elite man's status was defined by his craft.(43) Henry Parrott, in a 1615 verse satire, listed among the motley patrons of a bookstall "your Countrey-Farmer," and "my Serving-man."(44) The elite's identifications also carried reminders that most of these jobs would once have been incommensurate with literacy and that any labor was incompatible with leisure reading.(45) Antifictionalism thus battled against social mobility in a discourse that identified leisure readers as workers, implying that the spread of literacy was disrupting labor. Of course what it really disrupted was the exclusivity of leisure.

These elite over-reactions to book-buying craftsmen, like the related images of reading servingwomen, mark worries about what McKeon calls "status inconsistency," the discordance between culturally-embedded expectations (of privilege, of firm hierarchy) and lived experience (of open access, of violated boundaries). Certainly elite observers were projecting these anxieties, but the choice of servants and craftsmen as targets was not random. Antifictional anxieties centered on reading servants because the intimacy of personal service brought social differences to the surface, and on reading craftsmen because artisans-turned-plutocrats, such as Thomas Deloney's famous weavers, had become the mythic figures of emergent capitalism in City life.

The bookshop also promoted anxieties about the place of tradesmen because it was the home of two especially untraditional professions: the printer/bookseller's, and the author's. Upwardly mobile printers, with growing influence over literary activity, and downwardly mobile authors such as Greene, "for that trade grown so ordinary," were in their own ways disturbing to the traditional association of literary influence with elite privilege. Printers and authors were also overturning traditional modes of production in their deliberate output of objects designed as commodities. Fiction books are among those early modern objects in which we can best see printers anticipating capitalist reproduction, and authors anticipating bourgeois values (or the bohemian refusal of those values).(46)


Even writers who read Greene with pleasure responded to the symbolic association of his works with servants, through Nashe's image of the pocket, and with the marketplace, as in Harvey's nightmare of novelties. These two socially unstable spaces, both metaphors for the unknown territory where gentle and lowborn pleasure-readers mingled, figure extensively in a 1602 representation of Greene's consumers. Samuel Rowlands' Tis Merrie when Gossips meete is a pamphlet that purports to tell in rhyme what women talk about over beer.(47) Its readers are led into the alehouse by the opening discourse, a self-reflexive (or Pythonesque) "conference" in which a bookseller's "Prentice" urges a "Gentleman" to purchase the pamphlet (5). This "conference" is a clever way to turn the pamphlet's first page into a self-advertisement, and also a rare and ideologically complex depiction of class interaction in the book market.

As the dialogue begins on the first page of Rowlands' text, the gentleman-customer is resisting the apprentice's urging of a "new Booke new come foorth." New books are not to his "humours liking"; rather, "there are some old Bookes that I have more delight in then your new, if thou couldst helpe me to them." In particular, he requests "all Greenes Bookes in one Volume." The apprentice, experienced in handling customers who seek familiarity before novelty, answers that of Greene's titles he lacks "Conny-catching, and some halfe dozen more," quickly adding that he can procure the missing books from another dealer in town. The customer insists that he wants to own all of Greene: "But I will have them every one, not any wanting" (5).(48) This fan takes his mirth seriously; compelled to possess every available pleasurable commodity, he is the inverse of a Gabriel Harvey, obsessed by the profligacy of commodification. Unfortunately for the customer, the spurious and dubious works attributed to the late Greene made him an innumerable author, the figure of that profligacy. The apprentice tries to fill his customer's desire for completeness by offering "all the Parts of Pasquill"; the customer is surprised to learn there are more than two such jestbooks. This gentle taste for Pasquill's many jests, lowbrow as it seems, was shared by the letter-writer John Chamberlain, a dilettantish son of a merchant.(49) Rowlands' fictional gentleman, like Chamberlain and Nashe, knows that to read fiction for pleasure is to be current and to possess a form of currency in urban life--even if one's chosen reading is mass-produced and far from the dernier cri.(50) But the dialogue skirts the possibility that the ambitious young apprentice may be more fashionable than this fuddy-duddy gent, whose taste for the familiar is not just belated, but a little obsessive.

Furthermore, too much loyalty to the familiar has the commercial disadvantage of limiting customers' willingness to buy new titles. The clever apprentice therefore builds from his customer's request for the familiar to an endorsement of the new, Rowlands' own book, which he associates with the proven records of Greene, Breton, Chaucer, and Nashe. Once more the gentleman tries to resist the new book. Pretending he already knows Tis Merrie when Gossips Meete, he cries, "Why, that Title is stale," and reels off a list of other "merry meetings" in book, ballad, and proverb (6). This misguided pedantry provides a further opportunity for Rowlands to drop familiar titles as endorsements to the reader, even as it demonstrates that novelty is a relative claim.

Once the apprentice realizes that his social superior cannot be lured by novelty alone, he turns to another kind of narrative pleasure, describing the textual meeting of the wife, the maid, and the widow as a form of forbidden sexual intimacy. Usually, jests the apprentice, a man may not "deal with" a wife because she is "another mans commoditie"; owning this book, he may "carry Wife, Mayde, and Widdow in [his] pocket." The gentleman catches on: "Be-like thy Booke is a conjuring kinde of Booke for the Femenine Spirits, when a man may rayse three at once out of his pocket" (7). To close the sale, the apprentice appeals to moralized voyeurism: if you "sit alone privately in your Chamber reading of it, ... peradventure the time you bestow in viewing it, will keepe you from ... [the] Bawdyhouse." The possessor of fiction has a privileged "viewing" of women's secrets placed in his most convenient and intimate spaces. Eager to gain this privilege, the gentleman concludes "Wee must needes have some Traffique together," confirms the price, and hands over his sixpence (8). Now the book, like the imagined wife, has become "another mans commoditie," and the trafficking between tastes and classes so feared by Harvey becomes, for this imagined moment, a traffic in women. Rowlands resolves class tensions in the cultural marketplace by referring to a shared sense of gendered possession.

Having completed his transaction, the gentleman revives the verbal exchange, asking the apprentice, "What is this an Epistle to it?" The apprentice, in response, names the title of the epistle, "To all the pleasant conceited London Gentlewomen"; this title ends the page and then appears again as the title of the epistle dedicatory on the next leaf, moving from the fictive dialogue into the typographic frame (8-9). Rowlands's characters thus invite readers to join in an inspection of the materiality of the book and the gendering of its audience.(51) The reader who imitates the action of the gentleman and reads the dialogue in the bookshop not only uses the built-in endorsements as a modern browser uses book-jacket blurbs, but finds himself literally written into the book. Much as the depicted common currency of fiction titles violates the barrier between apprentice and gentleman, the preface's self-reflection blurs the boundary between text and reader. No one can escape reading Rowlands' book, a cultural commodity that literally creates its own consumer.

Among the authors whose names mark the dialogue's open invitation to the pleasure-reader's marketplace, Greene naturally takes pride of place. Rowlands' work met with success, thanks to both its carnivalesque tone and its canny inset references to Greene: Tis Metric survives in four editions issued over the Stuart period, as well as in two editions of a sequel. Rowlands borrowed from Greene's most populist works in his other 1602 publication, an imitation of Greene's coney-catching pamphlets of the early 1590s.(52) Like Greene, Rowlands fictionalized lower-class protagonists for an audience covering the middle of the social range, from the culturally aspirant to established gentlefolk. His bookshop dialogue shows that while popular books might feature characters who were socially distant from many of their buyers, an important part of their appeal was their claim to span somewhat lesser social distances among their readers; between, say, apprentice and gentleman. Rowlands' strategic reference to Greene worked because a diversity of Jacobean readers were still enjoying Greene's characters, noble or low. Perhaps, just as Rowlands' customer thrilled with voyeurism in the bookshop, readers attracted to Greene by his famously broad popularity were excited by class intercourse in their reading choices.


In The Winter's Tale (circa 1611), Shakespeare, too, was drawn to take the selling of cultural commodities as a setting for an examination of social difference. He staged a complex representation of popular culture, both oral and print, which attempted to distinguish the play from its source story, Pandosto. The Winter's Tale folds into its romance plot repeated representations of popular narrative as unsophisticated or foolish, as though denying its own dependence on the feigned narratives believed to beguile the simple. As though the dramatic vehicle necessitates the drawing of distinctions between theatrical narrative and print fictional narrative, Shakespeare's play presents a sustained analysis of the threat that mimetic narrative poses to aesthetic and social hierarchies.(53) The changes made by Shakespeare in converting the romance to a play have been recounted repeatedly, always to Shakespeare's advantage.(54) What is apparent when the play is approached as a cultural production is that his two boldest additions actively respond to the origins of the play in popular print fiction. Most obvious is the theatrical final scene, in which the king discovers that a "statue" of his "late" wife lives and breathes. Theatrical illusion reveals the truth that her death was as much an illusion as Perdita's life as a shepherdess. The queen's survival permits the king to live, rather than kill himself as in Pandosto, and thus clinches the play's happy resolution of its disruptions. The play's spectatorial solution to the parents' tragedy echoes and exceeds the romance's magical thinking, which maintains class lines while giving a supposed shepherdess the opportunity to marry a prince. Greene repays this magical gift with the death of the king whose jealousy disrupted the hierarchy, but Shakespeare finds imaginary solutions to both social mobility and patriarchal misjudgment.

The very improbability of this new ending is celebrated for its resemblance to popular narrative. In the last act, two characters note that the plot has been resolved "like an old tale," thus fulfilling the promise of the title and the first acts' foreshadowing discussion of bed-time stories. The second gentleman marvels at Leontes' reunion with his daughter: "This news which is called true is so like an old tale that the verity of it is in strong suspicion."(55) Then the court lady Paulina remarks of Leontes' reunion with his wife: "That she is living, were it but told you, should be hooted at like an old tale" (5.3.116-18). These references liken the play's recovery of order to traditional oral narratives, the kind told by old wives around a fireside.(56) Shakespeare thus wishes his play a new parentage, not Elizabethan Grub Street but something more nostalgic and folksy. Of course Elizabethan romances like Greene's had become familiar after a generation. But this inverted "family romance" of supposed folk roots distances the play from its literal roots, and separates playgoers from the "simple" buyers of Elizabethan romances--buyers increasingly identified in the Jacobean era as female and non-elite. The ridiculed mimetic narratives, oral or written, are popular, while the ridiculers are gentle.

If a tale is so attractive that it can't be true, these courtiers know it should be "hooted at" or examined in "strong suspicion." They participate in a Platonic tradition in which elite suspicions of mimetic narrative are coupled with a naive certainty that such lying narratives will deceive the masses. Such antifictionalism shares the pedigree of antitheatricality: both were inherited by the Renaissance elite, through secular and theological branches, from roots in the Republic.(57) The particular locus classicus of antifictionalism is book 10, which holds that any literary form participates in the dishonesty of mimesis. There, Socrates argues that the maker of fictions pretends to be a jack-of-all-trades, but in fact is a maker only of lies. Unlike the carpenter who makes beds, the poet makes only imitations of beds, thrice removed from the Ideal form. As Jonas Barish argues in his famous study of antitheatricality, the poet, with no "true" trade, is unacceptable in a society where every man's craft is ordered, constant, and integral.(58) But the poet's worst fault is his potential to deceive others, described in a passage that reveals the elitist heart of the antifictional impulse:

For example: a painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artisan, though he knows nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good painter, he may deceive children and simple persons when he shows them his picture of a carpenter [displayed] from a distance, and they will fancy they are looking at a real carpenter.(59)

This primary scene of antifictionalism, itself a fantastic fiction, connects a deep suspicion of the epistemological status of mimesis with an unquestioning belief in the susceptibility of the lower orders, "children and simple persons."(60) If not for the governors who censor in loco parentis, one simple artisan could easily deceive another simple artisan with a life-size cutout of a third.

The Platonic description of literary mimesis may be crude--Barish notes that "Plato's visual fixation seems to trivialize the whole argument"--but its apparent illogic lays bare the social foundation of this aesthetic prejudice.(61) The aesthetic argument is that mimetic narrative, like theater, should be condemned for its power to create make-believe that can pass for real. Underlying that aesthetic argument are class-based fears: that those who will yield to illusions are the lower classes, that those who manipulate illusions are also low-born, and that the representations they manipulate will portray the low-born--and even, unspeakably, the high-born. After all, if you can make yourself a carpenter, you can make yourself a king.

To fear that a medium of representation can alter the social relations it portrays is, of course, to see it as a fetish. That fetishization, far from perverse, can be explained by the principles of cultural capital. Mimetic narrative is dangerous because it offers the less educated and less privileged the opportunity to manipulate their self-representations for their own purposes. Such fiction could directly rival the larger fiction of the noble lie that sustains the Republic--and although mimetic fictions would not necessarily take a liberatory stance, any alternative to the official story could, potentially, have an antihegemonic effect. Popular mimetic narrative, especially in print form, was a double threat to the early modern social order: as mimesis, it had the power to tell lies that countered ruling-class ideologies, and as cheap print, it had the power to offer (indeed, to sell) those lies, mass-produced, to simpler folk. Much as antitheatricality is traceable to the power of performance to unsettle the foundations of gender identity, antifictionalism arose from the fear that fictions, especially when circulated in print, could undermine the ostensible fixity of class hierarchy.(62)

While the courtiers engage in a mild critique of fiction on epistemological grounds, the social attack on fiction-reading is voiced by Shakespeare's other major addition to Greene's story, the character of Autolycus, the rogue-as-ballad-seller. Autolycus is unusual among Shakespeare's clowns in puncturing the illusions of print narrative rather than those of theater. He does not play with words, but sells them. His many crimes and scams are masked by his ostensible trade of selling printed ballads to the country folk. While Autolycus regards his wares as lightly as the loot he calls "unconsidered trifles," the ballads he sells can be recognized as stage representations of near-forgotten popular forms (4.3.26). The advertised ballads are a pastiche of preposterous lies, parodying the excessive and ungrounded evidentiary claims that Roger Chartier has shown to be characteristic of early print forms.(63) Says the chapman about his ballad of the singing fish: "Five justices' hands at it, and witnesses more than my pack will hold" (4.4.281-82). And a country maid enthuses: "I love a ballad in print, a life, for then we are sure they are true" (4.4.258-59).(64) While the rural youth eagerly shop for these apparently worthless cultural commodities, Autolycus collects their pennies, and picks their pockets, a theft that the play treats as inevitable and never recompenses.(65)

Autolycus's threat fulfills Socrates' prediction: here is a manipulator of narratives who has indeed seduced and deceived simple folk. Autolycus is a master of imitative arts who can sell ballads or sing them, serve nobles or impersonate them, sell notions or plant them in the "hearts of maids" (4.4.276). The shepherds relish this plasticity: "No milliner can so fit his customer with gloves" (4.4.193). From a distance, Autolycus can make himself look like a mugging victim, as a painter can make a carpenter. As a jack-of-all-trades with none of his own, Autolycus is also a demonized version of that unclassifiable, uncontainable craftsman, the early modern author.(66) Within the fantasy of this antifictional discourse, Autolycus even despises his own craftless craft. He yearns to recover his lost livery and escape the unrooted profession that makes him a masterless man, even though it is only as a masterless man that he is free to master self and others through his false but convincing narratives. Early modern Grub Street authors, however, seem to have embraced their relative freedom from the containment of service to a patron. Unlike Autolycus, and like their partners, the publishers, and the other merchants and craftsmen in their publishers' social register, the authors knew their production of commodities was a legal trade.

In book 10 of the Republic, Socrates explains the hold of liars like Autolycus over people like Shakespeare's simple country folk:

When anyone reports to us about someone, saying that he has encountered a human being who knows all the crafts and everything else that single men severally know ..., it would have to be replied to such a one that he is an innocent human being and that, as it seems, he has encountered some wizard and imitator and been deceived.(67)

To Socrates, such victimization by rogues is inevitable because undiscriminating simple folk lack the cultural literacy to "put knowledge and lack of knowledge and imitation to the test."(68) The masses, seduced by Autolycus' craft of fiction, overlook his cunning craft of social self-transformation. Shakespeare uses Autolycus as the embodiment of these Platonic fears (although he counts on an audience that is not so easily seduced)--but he also defuses them by disempowering Autolycus. After his success at the sheep-shearing feast, Autolycus misses his opportunity to expose Perdita's identity, his last chance to manipulate the social position of others, and becomes a manipulated servant.

Shakespeare's adoption of the Platonic prejudice against fiction's social volatility requires that Perdita, the gentle shepherdess of his tale, take no interest in Autolycus' wares. This romance heroine is not interested in self-transformation. Her famous argument against botanical cross-breeding shows that she nurtures no desire to move beyond her position of birth (a point that Shakespeare makes much more unambiguously and insistently than does Greene). Precisely because she does not desire social mobility, she is granted a transmigration to noble place that is not a climb but a return to status. As she and her father enjoy their happy recoveries, however, Autolycus grovels before his new masters. Perdita's rube relations, his former victims, have now been rewarded with laughably inappropriate knighthoods: these shepherds profess themselves "gentlemen born," for a gentleman made is ideologically impossible (5.2.126, 131). Thus the play's comic scapegoat for both narrative dissimulation and social aspiration bows before the play's comic tokens of improbability and mobility. The "news" of the family reunion may be more fabulous than Autolycus's ballads, but like the shepherds' promotions, these "news" pose no social threat. The on-stage disempowering of Autolycus has exorcised anxiety about ambitious rascals, mimetic lies, and narrative improbability, licensing the ultimate, improbable "truth" that brings a representation of the misrepresented Hermione to life.

The Winter's Tale claims that social problematics are endemic to mimetic narrative. By staging narrative's potential to disrupt the social order, it differentiates such narratives from its own dramatic restoration of that order. The play seeks to reject its origins in popular fiction, but with an insistence that tends to emphasize its own fictiveness. In the end, the play's exploitation of antifictional ideology is both explained and undermined by its presentation in a theatrical context. On one level, Shakespeare's use of antifictionalism can be understood as a tactic, among others in the late plays, in his ambivalent confrontations with antitheatricality. Both forms of prejudice would have contributed to his concern about appropriating Pandosto, and the many other popular fictions he adapted in his plays, for the dramatist was even more vulnerable than the fiction-writer to charges of offering imaginary solutions to real social problems. If popular fictions were criticized for offering the populace dangerous examples that threatened existing controls over social representation, Shakespeare's use of such fictions tended, if anything, to increase the component of wish-fulfillment, more freely raising and then soothing disruptions in the hierarchy. Yet to assign those criticisms of narrative wish-fulfillment to speakers in the mimetic forum of the stage was not to plead that antimimetic case, but to render it self-reflexive. The audiences for this new play would have responded to the actors' mockery of old tales with renewed delight in their shared fantasies.

Indeed, narrative's epistemological threats to the ideological undergirding of the social pyramid would have been more powerful than ever when re-staged in the public, visual, communal, and closely-monitored sphere of the London theater.(69) The Winter's Tale does not, admittedly, put its representation of class instability foremost: the central role is reserved for the reestablishment of the patriarch's family. But the strains on social hierarchy form a powerful symbolic subtext that the play does not work to contain, any more than it succeeds in excusing its own implication in the dangers of popular narrative.

Shakespeare's appropriation of Greene's romance, then, is double-voiced. It follows the tradition of Platonic antifictionalism by putting fiction in the hands of stock characters from the laboring classes. But it also uses that mythology of antifictionalism to expose the contradictions of antitheatricality to an audience of lovers of narrative pleasure. Thus Greene's romance, produced mainly as a toy for the fashionable, was appropriated by an aspirant playwright to speak to the needs and desires of his socially diverse audience. In fact, Pandosto would address the reading populace far more steadily than would The Winter's Tale. For after its Interregnum disappearance, the play would be forgotten for a full century, while Pandosto, known as The Pleasant History of Dorastus and Fawnia, would continue to attract generations of readers.(70) Although literary elites would come to overlook Greene's romance or dismiss it as a materially-diminished, socially-obscure chapbook, an inconsiderable trifle, Pandosto had played a pivotal role in the formation of popular print culture.

La Salle University


The Folger Institute of the Folger Shakespeare Library gave material assistance for this project during a seminar on printing and publishing in Jacobean London. The Patristic, Mediaeval, and Renaissance Conference at Villanova University provided a responsive audience. Other welcome advice came from those who read various versions of this argument: Annabel Patterson, Dale Randall, Tim Newcomb, Jane Jeffrey, Ruth Porritt, and Peter Blayney.

1 On literacy, see David Cressy, Literacy and the Social Order: Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980). Cressy reports a substantial although irregular drop in illiteracy across all occupational, geographical, and gender groups. For example, illiteracy among tradesmen and craftsmen in Durham and Northumberland dropped from 79% in the 1580s to 56% in the 1610s; in London and Middlesex the drop over the same period was from 41% to 30% (146). Among this "middle of the range," the rise of literacy apparently suffered stagnation late in Elizabeth's reign, but more than recovered under James (124, 169-70).

2 For this expansion, see Charles Mish, "Comparative Popularity of Early Fiction and Drama," Notes and Queries 197 (1952): 269-70. Mish concluded from his edition counts that while print fiction and drama titles were published with comparable frequency in the Tudor-Stuart period, fiction's jump in frequency came earlier than drama's.

3 This model was promulgated especially by Mish in his extended research on early fiction published in the 1950s and 60s. For example, in his "Best Sellers in Seventeenth-Century Fiction," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 47 (1953): 356-73, Mish concluded that "in the seventeenth century, as certainly in the nineteenth and the present centuries, fiction has two aspects." In addition to elite "vogues," there was "a steady outpouring of reprinted favorites having nothing to do with what is on the top" (372). See also his "Black Letter as Social Discriminant in the Seventeenth Century," PMLA 98 (1953): 627-30; "English Short Fiction in the Seventeenth Century," Studies in Short Fiction 6 (1969): 233-330; and the introduction to Short Fiction of the Seventeenth Century (New York: Norton, 1963), vii-xvii. Reworking Mish's ground in English Prose Fiction 1558-1700, A Critical History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), Paul Salzman asserts that "the various modes of fiction did not have fixed barriers between them" (266). But immediately, he too reverts to the binary model: chivalric fictions "were printed in black-letter, and were read by a less sophisticated public than the newly fashionable, more expensive heroic romances, printed in roman type" (266-67).

4 Roger Chartier, The Cultural Uses of Print in Early Modern France, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987), 3.

5 Chartier (note 4), 3. Although I am willing to use the term "popular culture" as Chartier is not, I heed his warnings about the reification the term can impose. In my use, "popular culture" is a relational construction, referring to forms readily available to a broad audience, diverse and changing in their qualifications, but socially constructed as distinct from elite audiences. Popular culture is defined not by its intrinsic difference from elite culture, but by its exclusion. Attempts to essentialize popular culture, by nature multiple and polymorphous, are characteristic of elite cultural discourse. On the complexity of popular culture's production and consumption, see John Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1980).

6 Frederick E. Pierce, ed., The Winter's Tale, The Yale Shakespeare (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1918).

7 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1984). Also see Barbara Herrnstein Smith, Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988), on "the privileging of the self through the pathologizing of the Other" (38).

8 Muriel St. Clare Byrne, Elizabethan Life in Town and Country, 7th ed., rev. (London: Methuen, 1961).

9 On the mythology of Greene's life and works see, among others, J. Churton Collins, ed., "General Introduction," in The Plays and Poems of Robert Greene, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), vol. 1; John Clark Jordan, Robert Greene (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1915); Edward Haviland Miller, The Professional Writer in Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1959), chap. 7; Rene Pruvost, Robert Greene et ses romans (Paris: Publications de la Faculte des Lettres D'Alger, 1938); Nicholas Storojenko, "The Life of Robert Greene," in The Life and Complete Works in Prose and Verse of Robert Greene, ed. Alexander B. Grosart, 15 vols. (London: Huth Library, 1881), vol. 1.

10 The adjective comes from Charlotte Lennox, whose vivid record of that debate in her 1753 Shakespear Illustrated is quoted by Horace Howard Furness in The Winter's Tale, The New Variorum Edition (1898, rpt., New York: Dover, 1964), 352. The link between play and romance had been known well before, however.

11 Mish, "Best Sellers" (note 3), 358-60. Mish found that in number of editions published during the seventeenth century, Pandosto was exceeded only by Aesop's Fables, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and Bernard's Isle of Man, three didactic works whose audiences were probably broader than the market for "straight" fiction. Such didacticism does not disqualify them from fictional status in my opinion (as it almost does in Mish's), since didacticism was an element that most literary works of the period, including Pandosto, claimed to offer. However, these three works had large-scale means of distribution and publicity--Aesop in the classroom, the others in the pulpit--which Pandosto did not, and therefore represent different audience dynamics. Of course, all of these figures are marred by their dependence on the accidents of survival of early works. Edition counts are, however, our only means to quantify the popularity of early modern books. Such counts assume that books were published with a maximum edition size of 1200-1500. H. S. Bennett points out in English Books and Readers 1603-1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970) that the Stationer's Company regulation that fixed this maximum was designed to maintain balanced demand for the skills of compositors and pressmen (227).

12 Mish, "Best Sellers" (note 3), 360. He also recorded two Restoration appearances in the form he regarded as the nadir of literature--the cheap chapbook redaction. A bibliographical analysis of twelve editions of Pandosto (through 1640) may be found in Stanley Wells, "Perymedes the Blacksmith" and "Pandosto": A Critical Edition (New York: Garland Publishing, 1988). This 1962 doctoral study, independently of Mish's research, also included a brief discussion of "the popularity of Pandosto" over "about one hundred and fifty years" of reprints. Wells concluded that the "simplicity" of the work suited the "intellectual capacity" of its readers, although he carefully excluded William Shakespeare from this generalization (lxxv-lxxix).

13 Only one of these seventeenth-century editions is a redaction; the other edition that Mish counted as a redaction has been redated to circa 1700, and thus no longer falls in the century. However, a number of condensations and adaptations competed in the eighteenth century. Indeed, a 1795 chapbook issued from "Charles-river Bridge" in Boston proves that Pandosto reached readers in the young United States. I thank Georgianna Ziegler of the Folger Shakespeare Library for assisting me in my search for eighteenth-century editions of Pandosto.

14 In his Anthology of Elizabethan Fiction (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987), Paul Salzman has recently endorsed a discovery of a 1585 inventory listing for the "Triumphe of time" as evidence of a long-lost premier edition (xvii, xxvii). The inventory of the Shrewsbury stock of stationer Roger Ward(e) was reported in 1958 by Alexander Rodger in "Roger Ward's Shrewsbury Stock: An Inventory of 1585," The Library, 5th ser., 13 (1958): 247-68. Rodger unambiguously identified the item as "an unrecorded first edition" of Pandosto (264).

15 The only Elizabethan prose fiction title that exceeded Pandosto in frequency of editions in its first two decades was Euphues, famous for its fad-like rise and fall. See Mish, "Best Sellers" (note 3), 367. Two other Greene romances also enjoyed similar reprint rates over this period (although not beyond 1640), again sealing the association between Greene and successful literary publication to a broad audience.

16 That very canon of popular romance was marginalized at least partially in response to the continued redistribution of works like Pandosto to new and less privileged readers.

17 In its resolution, the plot of Pandosto fits into the pattern that Michael McKeon calls "romance ideology" in The Origins of the English Novel 1600-1740 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987). However, McKeon's teleological privileging of novelistic ideologies causes him to neglect the diversity of cultural practice that permitted the continued reappropriation of romances over the next two centuries.

18 The running title may also have served as an attraction to female readers, assumed to be interested in love stories. Greene had directed his earliest romances toward female readers, in a courtly gesture imitating that of Lyly in his sequel to Euphues. Greene's avoidance of this strategy in his later romances suggests some reluctance to be identified with female readers, however fashionable, to the possible exclusion of a larger male audience. Publishers' adoption of the running title to replace Pandosto, after about 1635, coincides with increased anecdotal report of Greene's female readership.

19 Chartier (note 4), 5. Chartier's materialist model adds nuance and specificity to the transition described by Walter Ong, S. J., in Orality and Literacy (London: Methuen, 1982). In Fashioning Authority: The Development of Elizabethan Novelistic Discourse (Kent, Ohio: Kent State Univ. Press, 1994), Constance Relihan emphasizes the contradictory position of the university wits, for whom "enter[ing] the marketplace of the bookstall was an ungentlemanly act; it violated the norms of the very class to which the writers aspired even as it provided their only means of entrance into that class" (12).

20 For various versions of Greene's biography, see Storojenko (note 9), 1:1-256; Jordan (note 9), Pruvost (note 9); and Richard Helgerson, The Elizabethan Prodigals (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976).

21 Quoted in Pruvost, 583.

22 Jordan (note 9), 5.

23 W. J. Paylor, The Overburian Characters (1936; rpt., New York: AMS Press, 1977), 43. I will refer to "A Chamber-mayde" as Overbury's since it appeared under his name, but he probably did not write it. This sketch and others were added in a sixth impression of the Characters, one of several expansions issued after his death (xvii).

24 One bit of evidence that contradicts this rapid social decline is the record of a mid-seventeenth-century library in which a socially privileged if provincial reader kept a Greene romance. Fraunces Wolfreston, the matron of a Midlands family of minor country gentry, lived from 1607 to 1677; her large collection of useful, godly, and light reading included an early edition of Mamillia. This edition has no title page, but is listed in the STC as "1583?" See Paul Morgan, "Fraunces Wolfreston and 'Hor Bouks': A Seventeenth-Century Woman Book-Collector," The Library, 6th ser., 11 (1989): 198, 214. The library was Wolfreston's own, since her husband and son were non compos mentis.

25 D. F. McKenzie, "Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices," Studies in Bibliography 22 (1969): 12. Margreta de Grazia and Peter Stallybrass quote this phrase in "The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text," Shakespeare Quarterly 44 (1993): 259. The stability of Pandosto is particularly striking in contrast to the instability they note in Shakespearean play-texts. Peter Blayney has suggested to me that compositors would find it more efficient to reproduce a text page-for-page, though not punctiliously, than to change formats needlessly.

26 See Blayney, The Bookshops in Paul's Cross Churchyard (London: Bibliographical Society, 1990), 67.

27 The shop first passed from Thomas Cadman, the printer of the first edition, to Joan Broome, the widow of his assistant. Broome's clear sense of her shop's strengths is apparent in her frequent reissues of Pandosto, including a timely one in 1592, the year of Greene's death. She also had the Stationer's Company

record her rights to two Lyly plays, "the Trewnes of Christian religion," and Pandosto, "The which copies were Thomas Cadmans." Upon her death, her successor at the Bible, George Potter, promptly recorded the transfer of several Lyly comedies, The Trueness, and Pandosto. The transactions are recorded in Edward Arber, ed., A Transcript of the Register of the Company Stationers of London, 1554-1640 A.D., 5 vols. (1876; rpt., Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1967), 3: 82, 191. Biographical information on publishers is available in R. B. McKerrow, A Dictionary of the Baoksellers and Printers in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of Foreign Printers of English Books 1557-1640 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1910).

28 The Stationers' Company ordinance of 1598 fixed the maximum retail price of printed books, based on the number of signatures and the typeface chosen, with exceptions allowed for dense or complicated work. These variables corresponded to the capital costs (paper) and the labor costs (presswork and composition). This maximum was not changed until 1635, although prices for most other goods doubled over that period. See Francis Johnson, "Notes on English Retail Book-prices, 15501640," The Library, 5th ser., 5 (1950): 84, 93. As long as Pandosto remained a straightforward quarto fitted neatly into seven signatures, its unbound cost could not vary much. Thus nothing about Pandosto--its price, its distribution, its title(s) or its style--would have restricted non-elite readers' access to the book (the same could not be said of either the manuscript or the folio Arcadia).

29 I use the term 'recommodification' to refer to publishers' reshaping of a text for a new audience, for instance by condensation or retitling. Any published work is by definition already commodified.

30 Karl Marx, Capital, Volume One, in The Marx/Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker, 2d ed. (New York: Norton, 1978), 320.

31 Marx (note 30), 320.

32 Marx, 321.

33 See Cressy (note 1), 188. In particular, he discusses the "decidedly more literate" population of London (124).

34 The criminal pamphlets of 1591 and 1592 promised an expose, the so-called black book, which never appeared. These lurid, tantalizing pamphlets were matched only by the revelations of sinfulness in the thinly-fictionalized autobiographical pamphlets, The Groats-Worth of Wit and The Repentance of Robert Greene. The autobiographical pamphlets were published posthumously and have periodically been deemed inauthentic. Their self-incriminations, including a pathetic letter in which Greene asks his estranged wife to pay his debt to the bearer, were scarcely less damaging than the ridicule of Gabriel Harvey's Foure Letters, including the famous claim that Greene died after a "Fatall banquet of Rhenish wine and pickled hearing" [sic] (Jordan [note 9], 3). Greene's sins and regrets were also ventriloquized in defenses by Thomas Nashe and Henry Chettle and in the sequels of Greene's imitators. The welter of sensation pamphlets, discussed in all of the biographies, is summarized in chronology form in Charles Crupi, Robert Greene (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986).

35 As Miller (note 9) points out, Harvey and Nashe were as much hacks as Greene; indeed Harvey and Nashe were each, at separate times, literally stabled by a publisher--the ultimate in authorial dependence on the marketplace (167).

36 Quoted in Jordan (note 9), 217.

37 Salzman quotes Lyly's 1580 preface:

I am content that your Dogges lye in your laps, so Euphues may be in your hands, that when you shall be wearie in reading of the one, you may be ready to sport with the other; or handle him as you doe your Iunkets, that when you can eate no more, you tye some in your napkin for children, for if you be filled with the first part, put the second in your pocket for your wayting Maydes: Euphues had rather lye shut in a Ladyes casket, then open in a Schollers studie. (English [note 3], 41)

This flight of fancy assumes that any text addressed to women has to be merely a sweet toy. The places where women put Lyly's book--their laps, their caskets, and their pockets--all figure their private parts. Imagining romance-reading as an intimate pleasure shared by gentlewomen and their chambermaids offered privileged male readers both the comfort of essentializing female foolishness and the frisson of contemplating cultural exchanges across class lines, and it became a recurrent trope in fiction criticism's rhetoric of distinction.

38 The publication history of various Greene titles brings out certain circumstantial evidence about who might have been buying Greene's works at the beginning of the century. A sole copy of a 1600 edition of Pandosto, bound with the 1599 edition of Menaphon and several other works by Greene and others, has recently turned up in Gdansk; the 1605 and 1616 editions of Menaphon are known only from copies in Wroclaw and Vienna respectively. Thus three of Menaphon's five editions were brought to central Europe, presumably by seventeenth-century travelers, perhaps as a byproduct of English trade expansion in the Baltic region in this period. These works thus reached their destinations via some English merchant or minor diplomat, functioning as mementos of London life for someone away on business or as souvenirs of a distant island for Polish business prospects.

39 As Nashe was quick to point out in Strange News, the "emperor of inkhornism"'s hostility to Greene's charms could be blamed on the disparity between Harvey's over-education and his artisanal parentage; the passage is quoted by Hyder E. Rollins and Herschel Baker, eds., in The Renaissance in England (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1954), 870. In all fairness, while Harvey's father was a provincial rope-maker, he was probably not representative of the craft, which Cressy (note 1) ranks as among the most illiterate (with a rate of 80% rural illiteracy) (132-33).

40 The Works of Gabriel Harvey, D.C. L., ed. Alexander B. Grosart (London: Huth Library, 1884; rpt., New York: AMS Press, 1966), 190.

41 Grosart, Works of Harvey (note 40), 187, 190-91. Miller (note 9) quotes John Webster's similar disgust at novelty-seekers in bookstores, "those ignorant asses (who visiting Stationers shoppes their use is not to inquire for good books, but new bookes)" (28).

42 Quoted in Miller (note 9), 49.

43 Cressy (note 1) reproduces a number of "personal marks" made on documents by illiterate craftsmen in Norwich, 1580-1620. A man who could not write his name might take as his signature an improvised hieroglyph based on a tool of his trade (59-60). One such man was the glover John Shakespeare (58).

44 Strands familiar from Lyly and Nashe, and an anticipation of Rowlands make up the description of the serving-man,

Who calls for new Bookes, heres one sayes the Boy, He reads, and tells him, tut, this is a toy, And nere will please our maides that take delight, In bookes of Ladies or some valiant Knight.

Parrot is quoted in Louis Wright, Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1935), 96.

45 In fact, as Cressy (note 1) points out, the varied applicability of writing skills to different trades helps to explain literacy's "enormous variation from trade to trade" (124, 130).

46 Pandosto's reproduction over this period (and beyond) demonstrates that a cultural commodity could continue to earn profits for its reproducers long after the labors of its original producers, both author and printer, had been remunerated. It thus demonstrates the rising dominance of the capitalist publisher/bookseller over the artisanal printer/editor. S. H. Steinberg, in Five Hundred Years of Printing (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955), considers the rise of the publisher/bookseller the main development in the post-Renaissance history of printing, due to the "occupational differentiation" it brought about (165). Such occupational differentiation would produce, on one hand, the freedom of the publisher to expand his market speculation, and on the other, an early example of the alienated production that Marx saw as essential to the modern form of the commodity.

47 Samuel Rowlands, Tis Merrie when Gossips Meete, in Complete Works 1598-1628, vol. 1 (1880; rpt., New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1966). Subsequent references are cited parenthetically in my text. On the genre of the gossips' meeting, see Wendy Wall, The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1993), 204-5.

48 Or at least he uses the shop's lack of the complete set for an excuse to back out of this substantial purchase.

49 According to Miller (note 9), Chamberlain bought "pedlarie pamflets and threehalfpeny ware," as well as James's Basilikon Doron, and sent them to an English friend in France. In January, 1599, Chamberlain sent "certain odde epitaphes and epigrammes that go under the name of pasquills" (50).

50 Neither the gentleman nor Chamberlain--nor the apprentice--claim any moral justification for pleasure reading, which points to one difference between my view of Greene's readership among men of business and Louis Wright's familiar thesis about Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England (note 44). Unlike Wright, I doubt that we can claim that a "puritanical middle class" needed a veneer of moralism "to assure them that they were not wasting their time in frivolous and improfitable amusement" (405; the claim is applied to Greene on 387). This vulgar Weberism compounds Wright's reduction of seventeenth-century social diversity to a monolithic middle class. Rowlands' obscure gentleman and cocky apprentice span either side of Wright's middle class, but understand one another when they speak of Greene. Nashe's buddies, Harvey's friends, and Baltic-bound merchants, although not uniformly middle-class, share acquaintance with Greene's books.

51 I believe that reader is constructed as male, despite the epistle's putative address tn women. Unlike Suzanne W. Hull, Chaste, Silent and Obedient (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1982), I cannot believe that this epistle signals an appeal to female readers: just as the book slyly offers a peep at male-conceived "women" talking dirty in the ale-house, the opening dialogue invites the reader, already constructed as male, to look at an epistle that addresses women as men imagine them. The epistle waggishly compares gentlewomen to their lapdogs: "Some of you keepe prettie Cars for
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Author:Newcomb, Lori Humphrey
Date:Dec 22, 1994
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