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Comparing poverty: fictions of a "poor theater" in Ruzante and Shakespeare.

Early modern drama has always been a propitious, if underexplored, terrain for transnational, comparative study. (1) Positivistic source studies that track the influence across borders of one playwright upon another, the preferred method for many years, in the late twentieth century ceded place to approaches, such as that of Louise George Clubb, that examine systems and structures of genres and "theatergrams" (theatrical "moving parts" such as character types and alignments, dialogue structures, verbal and gestural lazzi, topoi, plot mechanisms, etc.). (2) Investigation of systemic commonalities and theatergrams between different geolinguistic theaters better serves the collaborative and social nature of theater in the early modern period, when acting practices such as the commedia dell'arte in Italy and English clowning could render the actor an "author." (3) Systemic homologies, for example, between English and Italian early modern comedy, did not just magically appear; their genealogy can be explained, if not positively identified, by one of at least two causes: the precedence and prestige of Italian theater as an exfoliating "influence," and the general dissemination of humanism and humanistically inspired theater throughout the continent.

In the particular domain of theater history, the archival precision demanded by the discipline does not encourage border-crossing, although some notable exceptions to this have arisen in the work of Siro Ferrone, M.A. Katritzky, and Otto Schindler on the commedia dell'arte--work, it might be added, that adequately matches the positivist's demand for direct contact (an actor, or a troupe of actors, crosses a geolinguistic border and affects in some way the theater of the host country). Schindler and Katritzky both chart the Habsburg-Gonzaga networks that enabled the Mantuan-based Italian actors to travel to the German-speaking regions, and Katritzky has also followed English touring companies into the Low Countries and Germany. In the case of Hapsburg influence on commedia dell'arte international travel, by which the virtual road created by dynastic alliance made possible the real roads that actors plied by horse or mule, a set of common audience expectations must have emerged among the aristocratic audiences. Giovanni Tabarino, a Venetian actor, performed in Linz in 1568, Prague in 1570, Paris/Blois in 1571, and Vienna in 1574-each performance, even the Parisian one, enabled by a Habsburg connection. (4) The aristocratic audiences enjoying the international lingua franca of acting and acrobatics that Tabarino and other transnational performers like Aniello Soldino, Zan Ganassa, and Tristano Martinelli deployed probably had more in common with each other than with artisans or merchants from their own country. At the very high end of the social structure, a kind of supranational parity obtained.

Considering the extreme opposite end of the social spectrum, could a grim version of "supranational parity" and commonality also be ascribed to the beggars and vagrants that thronged the roads and streets of England and continental Europe during the early modern period? Could homologies be then identified in the ways that beggars, vagrants, and impoverished urban criminals were represented in early modern drama? Could Stephano Sartorelli, a displaced Bergamask begging the streets of Venice in 1545 (according to the Provveditori della Sanita archives), have had more in common with an English vagrant than he did with an Italian gentleman? (5) Can one construct a comparative study, enlisting both the margins of theater history and the resonances of dramatic text, that might explore homologies of poverty?

In any claims regarding theater history that might be ventured here, the methodological model would be Siro Ferrone's analysis of large-scale demographic urban migration throughout mid-sixteenth-century Europe--demographic flussi that generated a critical mass of exchange and circulation sufficient to generate, all in the mid--1570s, permanent or semi-permanent theaters in London, Madrid, and Florence. (6) For Ferrone, the pan-European phenomenon of urban migration made possible the circulation of social energy (in Greenblatt's terms), as materially communicated in the bodies of actors and audiences, coins, and clothing. (7) As with the phenomenon of humanism, the genealogy is principally homological rather than linear-causal: James Burbage didn't build the Theater in 1576 outside London's city walls because he learned that Italian actors in Florence were outfitting, in the very same year, the Teatro della Baldracca (which had a liminal location comparable to that of the Southwark amphitheaters: affixed to the back end of the Medici palace, but giving onto a street dotted with taverns and brothels). (8) Rather, it was the case that similar demographic and social conditions determined the two enterprises, with, of course, crucial and important local differences as well: comparison can just as easily here illuminate the fact that the Baldracca theater was semipermanent, reflecting the fact that Italy lacked the national center that rendered possible the English playhouses as well as the Spanish corrales.

If large-scale demographic movements, as Ferrone argues, conditioned the emergence of early modern theater on a pan-European scale, and thus can generate homological comparison, I wish to consider the impact that the sixteenth-century spike in poverty had on early modern drama. The poor, perversely speaking, did have a "Renaissance" and it was one that knew no borders, because the causes of early modern poverty were pan-European. (9) The tremendous population growth throughout Europe following the Black Death and the re-establishment of international trade favored the establishment of early capitalist modes of production, and the result was new wealth, new poverty, and massive demographic displacements. The growth of cities, first in Italy and Holland, generated an urban concentration of wealth, and the capitalization of agriculture wrested the means of production from large masses of farmers. Demographic growth exceeded the limits of agrarian technology. (10) With advantageous taxes and the support of the monarch, a middle class of peasant proprietors did relatively well in France and Germany, (11) but by 1500, peasant owners had practically disappeared around Florence and Siena. (12) So too in England and Spain: severely limited property rights made it practically impossible for English peasants to retain freehold control, and the notorious enclosure movement displaced many farmers, turning them into mercenary wage laborers and, frequently, beggars. In New Castile by 1570, there were large masses of destitute landless laborers, jornaleros who moved from village to village as "sellers of themselves," (13) to use the term used by Marx to describe the ironically "freed" late medieval serf. (14)

For millions of European men and women without land and property, a major decline in living standards occurred between 1500 and 1650. The population explosion (England's population doubled from 2.7 million in 1541 to 5.2 million in 1651) forced wages down, so that the extremely high inflation of the sixteenth century (partially caused by the influx of gold and silver from the New World) forced many wage-earners into poverty. In city and country, neither live-in labor nor day labor provided secure prosperity. The dissolution of the monasteries put thousands out of work, and the aristocracy cut the numbers of their servants down drastically. (15) Although there were obviously complex ebbs and flows in prosperity and wealth in the course of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, it can generally be said that the poverty rate rose throughout Europe. (16)

The new European underclass can be compared to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's "multitude," which refers to those excluded from capital in the present historical period, and who are "singularities" but are also "able to act in common." (17) Clearly, significant historical differences must be figured in here; for one thing, sixteenth-century vagrants lacked the kinds of communication networks, crucial to Hardt and Negri's specific articulation of commonality, that are only possible in the contemporary globalized world. But in broadening the locus of potential opposition to global capital to include many groups--migrants, the unemployed, the homeless, the poor--outside of Marx's wage-earning proletariat, Hardt and Negri invite us to new ways of thinking about the early modern poor, who were certainly perceived as a commonality, and a dangerous one at that, by ecclesiastical and municipal authorities. (18) Other features of Hardt and Negri's multitude, especially if one includes their explicit discussion of the poor, (19) can throw the sixteenth-century vagrant into clearer focus: linguistic resourcefulness (assuming that at least a degree of historical basis can be ascribed to German, or Italian, or English beggar's cant), physical mobility, the economic flexibility of the jack-of-all-trades, and a marked capacity for what Hardt and Negri call "immaterial labor": labor enacted under material conditions, to be sure, but producing immaterial products upon which the economy depends (a contemporary example given by Hardt and Negri is "service with a smile"). (20) For Hardt and Negri, the concept of "immaterial labor" expands the categories of labor and production by which Marx understands the working proletariat, the key actor in his historical drama. The broader notion of production proposed by Hardt and Negri provides new ways of understanding the active roles of the unemployed and the underemployed in society. Artistic creation, storytelling, music production, street theater--all constitute, among other things, the immaterial productions of the multitude.

I wish to examine how early modern drama might represent, within its own fictions, the production of fiction by the poor, in a street and road theater of its own that knew no temporal or spatial bounds. Because of its materially synecdochic nature, by which the material part can stand for the collective whole, theater is uniquely capable of representing commonality across singularity. As we analyze fictional production in Shakespeare and Ruzante--the most complex and polyphonous early modern Italian playwright--we can begin to glimpse structural patterns, theatergrams of poverty that might be homologically explained by the unfortunate supranational parity shared by the itinerant beggars affected by the pan-European economic crisis of the sixteenth century. To a greater degree than with the acrobatic lingua franca deployed by the players in international courts, these theatergrams will be highly inflected by local conditions, significantly conditioned by specific linguistic and cultural "translations;' in the broadest sense of the word. I wish to consider the theatrical fictions of Ruzante's desperate characters, of Shakespeare's Autolycus (The Winter's Tale), and of the "unhoused" aristocrats of King Lear as kinds of labor, productions (in both the economic and theatrical sense) of the multitude.

Considering the "theater" of the poor as a form of immaterial but real labor might help circumvent an important epistemological problem challenging any literary study of the early modern poor. The sad "Renaissance" of the early modern poor would appear to have directly generated, on a pan-European scale, scores of new fictional texts: Sebastian Brant's Das Narrenshiff (1497), Teseo Pini's Speculum cerretanorum (late fifteenth-century manuscript), the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes (c.1553), Thomas Harman's Caveat For Common Cursitors (1567), Giulio Cesare Croce's L'arte della forfanteria (1617), and many, many more. But several critics, most notably Linda Woodbridge in her challenging and compelling account of English rogue literature, have argued that literary representations of the vagrant beggar are suspiciously consensual, and therefore generally cannot be trusted as historical evidence. (21) For Woodbridge, fictional representations of the poor tended to be ideological constructions that aimed to control, contain, and persecute their subjects, or at best provide a principle of exclusion so that poor relief could be properly channeled to the "deserving poor:' Literary representations, in England and elsewhere, cast vagrant beggars as unwilling to work, seditious, socialist, sexually crazed members of secret sects who spoke mysterious canting codes, whether as masters of deception or as comic stereotypes shaped by the jest book tradition and thus comfortably homogenized (rendered a unity without singularity, in the terms of Hardt and Negri). Noting that the word rogue from the famous 1572 statute on vagabondage derives from Harman's 1567 Caveat, Woodbridge emphasizes the ways in which early modern texts about the poor distance us from the actual historical reality, even claiming that recorded courtroom testimonies could have been conditioned by ideological discourse about the poor.

As Craig Dionne has written in his introduction to Rogues and Early Modern English Culture, critics who work on the English rogue are still split between interpreting the rogue figure as revelatory of "real social conditions" and reading the rogue as merely a discursive concept that only reflects the social imagination of the time. (22) Many archival historians, however, such as A. L. Beier, (23) do not altogether discount the historical validity of the rogue pamphlets, and see important links between archival testimony (unlikely to have been influenced by literary discourse in all cases) and texts such as Harman's. Broadening the inquiry beyond national lines may help us historically ground this phenomenon, which can only properly be seen in a pan-European context. If one looks beyond England to the archival record in Italy, for example, what is striking is how often the Italian vagrant is recorded as producing fictions, in the resourceful mode of immaterial labor. In analyzing the Venetian situation, Brian Pullan cites archival testimony that corroborates some of the literary representations, and it is hard to believe in every case that a vagrant's recorded testimony results from either the (usually illiterate) vagrant or the courtroom recorder having read literature. (24) When the fictions of (in the sense of "about") the poor become state policy, the poor may become, and also wield, these fictions. The impulse to categorize and analyze vice that one finds in Pini's Speculum cerretanorum (some thirty sects, or specialties of vagabond) and in the English rogue pamphlets can be seen as the authorities' natural response to what was perceived as an undifferentiated miasma of sin, but Beier and, recently, Patricia Fumerton have shown that the vagrant poor in fact had to take on as many trades and roles as Shakespeare's Autolycus does in order to eke out a living. (Fumerton concentrates on the mobile working poor, who were able to assume complex multiple identities.) (25) Even the most outlandish fictions of the poor, whether identified in the Speculum cerretanorum or in court records, reflect the crucial survival function of narrative for those living on the margins of society, and the need to deploy multiple identities. Ironically, among the attributes ascribed to the poor in the fictional literature, one of the most plausible may be that they deployed fictions.

Homological socioeconomic conditions involving widespread poverty should justify the textual comparisons between Ruzante and Shakespeare attempted here. A nuanced sympathy for the destitute, a deeply entrenched materiality, and a dizzying metatheatrical imagination combine to render them the two early modern playwrights who treat the fictions of the poor with the greatest complexity.

Few early modern authors can be more securely linked to the realities of poverty and economic destitution than the early sixteenth-century Paduan playwright Angelo Beolco, known as Ruzante. (26) Ruzante worked as a supervisor for his patron Alvise Cornaro, who owned large quantities of Paduan land; he had frequent interactions with peasants, and the woman who was probably his mother (he was born illegitimately) was from the rural area outside of Padua. (27) In 1527-29, much of northern and central Italy was devastated by a deadly combination of bad weather (flooding), epidemic, and invasions of foreign armies in the War of Cognac that destroyed Ruzante's beloved Paduan countryside, which served as Venice's breadbasket. The Venetians commandeered and hoarded large quantities of grain from the Paduan peasants, whom they charged high rents and exorbitant prices. Small Paduan landowners were utterly ruined. A desperate, mass migration from the country filled Venice with beggars and refugees, as vividly described in several entries in Marino Sanuto's diary from December 1527 to February 1528. (28) Many immigrant women had to take up the trade of prostitution.

Ruzante's visceral and embodied theater continually counterpoints raw material reality with fictional and metatheatrical responses to it. On the one hand, external biological and social constraints, described in metaphors ranging from farming (e.g., the pull of oxen) to metallurgy (e.g., hammers striking anvils), inexorably press upon the characters, constituted by the famished body as often as the eroticized body. Not unlike Homeric characters under the weight of force and the necessity of war in Simone Weirs brilliant essay" The Iliad, or the Poem of Force," (29) Ruzante's souls become things. On the other hand, and in dialectical relationship to the contraints, Ruzante's protagonists demonstrate an apparently inexhaustible capacity for auto-poesis, theatrical self-fashioning. An astonishing group of plays written and produced in the immediate aftermath of this famine--Dialogo facetissimo, II Parlamento, and Bilora (30)--are deeply informed by the famine and the constraints that it imposed, and demonstrate a dialectical relationship between material reality and fictional poesis, immaterial production.

Ruzante's Dialogo facetissimo, probably first performed in January 1529 after the terrible famine of 1528, (31) is a play of desperate fiction, in which the immaterial production of the peasant meets reality and is destroyed upon contact. For Duozo, hunger is a real material force, squeezing or pinching him ("strenzere") like a wedge. (32) The peasants have taken to eating "ravi" (turnips) of the kind usually fed to the animals, but their laxative effect renders them counterproductive, emptying their bowels and making them all the more hungry. (33) Reactively, and grotesquely, Menego suggests closing up the body's avenue of evacuation in order to retain food within--in effect, transferring the hoarding practiced by the Venetians, who are accused of cannibalizing the poor, onto his own body. (34) Eaters of animal food, comparable to mad and rabid dogs, these thin waifs fear being hung up like meat over a smoke pit. (35) (In a theatergram, or lazzo, of hunger still performed by Dario Fo, Menego at one point later in the play considers suicide by auto-cannibalism, with the thought that he will at least die well fed.) (36) When beaten up by his rival Nale, who has taken advantage of his poverty and seduced his wife, the writhing Menego imagines, Falstaff-like, that he has been attacked by a hundred men, but this fiction hangs pathetically--and one could say unproductively--in the air. (37) As Duozo looks for a priest of Diana to cure him, Menego has a long monologue, (38) first considering that because he now has the signs of a beggar--Nale has dealt him a crippled hand in the beating--he could survive as a mendicant. Killing himself, on the other hand, would be better since it would send his rival into fugitive exile, and he debates various ways to kill himself in a monological theatergram of suicide reprised in Moscheta and later employed by the Comedie Italienne in France. (39) He contemplates auto-cannibalism, then self-strangulation, asking pardon for the stealing to which hunger has driven him in the past, and is only saved by the miraculous intervention of the priest of Diana. In a radically physicalized conception of the theater, which places particular emphasis upon the suffering (rather than the erotic) body as a "text" in its own right, Ruzante creates lazzi of a "poor theater" that are certainly productive of laughter, whatever their efficaciousness within the fictional world of the play.

The antefatto of Il Parlamento de Ruzante che iera vegnu de campo replicates the demographics of scarcity in the Veneto during the late 1520s: the character "Ruzante" has left the Paduan countryside to join the Venetian wars, during which time his wife Gnua has migrated to the big city, where she has been living on the edge of prostitution. (40) The play begins with the disoriented, lice-infested, and emaciated peasant, having deserted the army, arriving in Venice in desperate search of his wife. Just as the famished peasants of Dialogo facetissimo compared their dwindling bodies to animal meat on a smoker, the emaciated and destitute Ruzante deliriously wonders if he has become a ghost. This fictional delusion, however, is suddenly checked by material reality: he rummages in his sack for a piece of bread, eats it, and concludes that he is not a ghost because "No, cancaro! spiriti no magna" (No, by God! Ghosts don't eat). (41) What might be construed here as a radically material version of the cogito ("edo ergo sum") is constituted later in the play as a kind of "gastronomic humanism"--the commonality of the multitude, in the terms of Hardt and Negri. Speaking to Menato, later in the play, of his travel to Agnadello and other "distant" places, Ruzante claims com-pan-ionship, etymologically speaking, with peasants there despite cultural differences such as their "slurred speech" Claiming the need to eat as a fundamental ground of human identity, and thus productive of a "poor theater" that can translate well across national boundaries, Ruzante asserts that the Agnadello peasants are "uomeni de came, coma' seom nu" (flesh-and-blood men, just like us), who "si fa pan corn a' fazom, e si magna corn a' fazom nu" (make bread like we do, and they eat like we do, too) (emphasis mine). (42)

On the other hand, juxtaposed to the strains of irreducible material reality indelibly affixed to the body is the character Ruzante's fictional prowess in what William Carroll has termed a "war of signs;' deployed in the sixteenth-century prosecution of the vagrant. Briefly, according to Carroll, while vagrants could deploy multiple fictions, the state strove to essentialize the vagrants' identity, branding the bodies of the wily shape-shifters with "V" for vagrant or "R" for rogue, and thus collapsing discourse and punishment into one action. (43) In Ruzante's play, the lead character survives in the war by jettisoning his Venetian sword at the point when he judges that mingling with the enemy is preferable to running from them, and reversing the white cross of the Venetians on one side of his coat for the red cross of the Imperial power as he retreats to safety. (44)

Ruzante, to be sure, is not always so successful in the fictional manipulation of signs. Reading his body like a text, his wife Gnua shames Ruzante not for not fighting itself but for lacking the signs of soldiering: a lost arm or leg, an injured eye, a cut nose--and Menato agrees. Speaking to Gnua, before Ruzante, Menato declares,"A" vossevu un signale che 'l foesse sto ananzo: almanco cossi, una sfrisaura [Accenna a descriverla sul volto di Ruzante]" (You'd have liked a sign to show that he was up front in the fighting, at least a cut, like this [he makes the sign of cutting his thumbnail across Ruzante's cheek]). (45) Ruzante lacks the signs that Shakespeare's Edgar, following the "proof and precedent / Of Bedlam beggars" (2.2.184-85), is able to inscribe onto his own body.

If he is less adroit than Edgar in the art of destitute disguise, I would argue that Ruzante (both author and character) concludes this short play in a triumph of metatheatrical, fictional production. The painfully simply plot of this play does appear at first to check fantasy with immoveable social reality. Tired of listening to Ruzante's delusional claims, Gnua summons her bravo protector, who effortlessly beats up Ruzante and takes her away. But as he rises to his feet and licks his wounds, Ruzante multiplies the one attacker into a hundred, besting (in anticipation, of course) the pseudo-highwayman Falstaff's multiplication of "rogues in buckram" (King Henry IV, Part 1, 2.4.185-86) (46) by appearing actually to believe in the fantasy himself. Placed at this critical position at the end of the play, it carries peculiar psychological and theatrical power, as well as some formal significance. Simply put, fictional poesis makes him at least appear to be a survivor. Menato rightly likens the final fictions of Ruzante to "una beffa" or "le comiere che se fa" (the comedies that are made): metatheatrical compensation for his pain. (47) Formally, this play must veer away from a socially structured plot, such as so elegantly ends Machiavelli's Mandragola, toward the Italian genius of the individual performer: a line that extends from the giullare, to the virtuosic zanni, to Dario Fo. (For his part, Fo performs the monologically triumphant routine "La fame dello Zanni" in which a famished zanni first deliriously dreams of cooking and eating a copious meal, then wakes up from the dream to rediscover the constraints of material reality, only to synthesize reality and fantasy by the "lazzo of the flea"--an invisible flea is rendered into a succulent meal-made famous by Ferruccio Solerti and other famous Arlecchini.) There is something inherently solipsistic about this dynamic, a solipsism perhaps endemic to an intense, bodily centered "poor theater" that will also manifest itself in Shakespeare's Edgar, whose monologues often do not appear to need an interlocutor.

The tension of Ruzante's art, nowhere more clear than in his play Bilora, consists in the fact that he is an irredeemably social writer-performer and could not forever remain within the bounds of monologue, however "productive" it be of audience laughter and pleasure. (48) Like Parlamento, Bilora dramatizes the demographics of poverty. (49) Because of hard times, the eponymous protagonist has been forced to leave his farm in the Paduan countryside and work as a day laborer, pulling barges. His wife Dina has followed the trail of capital by moving to Venice and taking up with Andronico, a wealthy, elderly Venetian referred to by Bilora as a "usuraio," and Bilora follows her into the big city. Subject to force in the forms of material labor, demographic movement, and love--all verbally connected by forms of the word tirare (pull) (50)--Bilora calibrates dramatic speech to his own performing body. (51) In this play, it would be difficult to argue that Bilora's especially hapless fictions are productive in any way, and the play concludes quite differently from the others. Bilora proves incapable of understanding signs located beyond his usual boundaries (Padua) and unable to deploy successfully the fictions of the poor. He takes the canals of Venice for "ditches" repeatedly mispronounces the Venetian Andronico's name, and cannot count the Venetian money that Dina reluctantly gives him when, upon his finally arriving at her new home and beseeching her for bread, the husband-wife relationship is pathetically recast as a beggar-almsgiver encounter. Initially avoiding direct contact with the wife's new keeper, which had ended so badly for the protagonist in Il Parlamento, Bilora has his friend Pitaro supplicate Andronico for Dina's return to him, and he tells his friend to invoke some of the recognizable fictions of vagrancy--that he is a soldier, a fugitive, or a murderer (scena sesta). These fictions, distributed by narrative proxy rather than being directly "performed" not surprisingly have no effect on this play's version of the immoveable object. The tragic social world of famine and displacement seems to render the fictions normal to comic form (e.g., those of Mandragola) ineffectual. The end of the play again veers toward monologue, but of a less metatheatrically exuberant tone: uncomfortable solitary bluster. Bilora swaggers about, vows to kill Andronico, and in a moment of striking symbolic violence he smashes a wine jar as its bloodlike contents spill out onto the ground. Monologic fantasy functions less as metatheatrical performance than as rehearsal for the shocking, genre-confounding ending of the play, which consists of Bilora's actual murder of Andronico with a knife.

Parlamento and Bilora were both probably performed on the same occasion, on 6 February 1530 for a state banquet for Venetian dignitaries and foreign ambassadors, and their performance probably led to the ban on theater imposed on 16 February of that year. (52) It may be that no other early modern playwright, of any nationality, provides such a compelling performance of poor theater, of fictional production by the poor. As is especially clear in the ending of Parlamento, Ruzante offers this theater of destitution not as a dreary social document but as exuberant, pleasurable, theatrical production. But such production of fiction, almost always delivered by the virtuosic single performer, encounters a social world sharply divided by capital, and the dramatic logic thus tends toward either metatheatrically triumphant but socially isolated monologue (Parlamento) or generically subversive bloodshed (Bilora).

Shakespeare represents the real or the dissembling poor several times in his work, and we might roughly hypothesize a development in his career from the simple fiction that is exposed as a fraud in the course of the action to a more complex and sympathetic representation of characters playing beggars, vagrants, or the "mobile working poor" discussed by Patricia Fumerton. Like the authorities' brand or the pamphleteer's pen, Shakespeare's King Henry VI, Part 2 simply exposes the fictions of the poor, in Gloucester's shrewd interview with the pretended cripple Simpcox. (53) Insofar as Falstaff embodies many elements of rogue culture, especially around the Gadshill robbery, the true prince reduces the Ruzantean fiction of the multiplying buckram men back down to its proper number. Falstaff's second-order fictions can be numerically measured against the given circumstances of the first-order fictional world, and Hal exposes him, although it is clearly much more complicated to measure the personal and cultural claims of the roguish knight against the future Henry V's claims of state.

In The Winter's Tale's Autolycus and in King Lear, however, the fictions of the poor become at once more complex and more productive. Autolycus's virtuosic performance, self-generated in ways that befit his name, bears comparison with the exuberant auto-poesis in Il Parlamento and the other "hunger" plays of Ruzante, which I have argued tend toward monology. Edgar's "Poor Torn" (and the adjective deserves more weight than it is generally given) is deployed in a bloody and tragic world (in this sense consonant with Bilora), but despite the grim denouement of Shakespeare's play, his fictional "productions;' in the double sense, are more socially efficacious than those of Ruzante, especially if we think of cognitive and emotional transformation rather than direct political action. Reading homologically (there is no claim that Shakespeare was directly influenced by Ruzante), I will examine Autolycus and King Lear as theatrical extensions of the comic and the tragic dimensions of Ruzante's "poor fictions."

In his monological virtuosity, his metatheatrical self-fashioning, his sophisticated verbal dexterity (equal to his physical skill), and his ironic awareness of class, Autolycus resembles the Ruzantean protagonist more closely than he does the commedia dell'arte zanni. Unlike Ruzante in the crisis of 1527-29, Autolycus enjoys the prosperity and luck of a fecund pastoral environment, and cannily manages to appropriate "superfluity" from the sheep-shearing festival, a sign of pastoral abundance. Autolycus, cast in the tradition of the "merry beggar," as William Carroll has argued, (54) is revealed at the height of his powers, and he is able to deploy his "poor theater" in a favorable environment, where ultimately a positive relationship obtains between center and periphery, court and country. Autolycus no longer works for Prince Florizel, but he shares his former master's breezy optimism regarding the possibility of class transformation--upwardly mobile, in his case, after the practice of vagrants who impersonated gentlemen. Although it is undeniable that in Autolycus Shakespeare romanticizes the life of the vagrant beggar and "working poor" he represents his theatrically produced fictions in a particularly complex light that both bears comparison with the metatheatrical inventions of Ruzante's protagonists and also reflects the historical reality that the working poor indeed needed to produce multiple roles and identities in order to survive. (55)

The sheer complexity of Autolycus's impersonations is impressive. Before the gullible young shepherd, Autolycus falls onto the ground and pretends to have been beaten, not by a hundred men, but a million or so times, and robbed of his clothes and his money (4.3). (56) In a virtuosic moment of fictional self-reliance, he has been robbed by none other than himself: "Some call him Autolycus" (4.3.97). In the poor theater of Autolycus's imagination, there are two characters: the feigned persona staged for the young shepherd, and his robber "Autolycus." The vagrant's wish-fulfillment, comparable to the fantastic meal of Fo's zanni, might explain the curious elements of the speaking persona, who is said have "land and living" nearby (4.3.95). Autolycus's "Autolycus" is a curious amalgam of that which is definitely not true (that he has been expelled from court because he was virtuous), that which is probably not true (that he has married a tinker's wife), that which is definitely true (that he was once a servant of prince Florizel, that he haunts fairs), and a whole range of characteristics that are probably true measured against the given fictional world of the play: he might have been whipped, he might have performed puppet shows and animal acts, and he might have frequented wakes and bear-baitings. As complex hybrids of social reality and imagination, Autolycus's fictions are clearly doing something important here, earning a precarious livelihood within the fiction of the play and, for reader and auditor outside of the play, foregrounding the humane impulse in the impoverished, degraded, and marginal subject toward complex forms of fictional identity-formation.

King Lear may be seen as an extended "poor theater," with Lear, the Fool, Kent, and most obviously Edgar deliberately taking on the marks and conditions of vagrant poverty; even Gloucester, who clearly does not choose to be blinded, self-identifies with his new degraded role and becomes a "sight" that transforms the people who behold him pitifully walking toward Dover (4.5.12-13). (57) Lear's impetuous decision to "abjure all roofs" (2.2.397) literalizes the "poverty" that, by the mental habit of antithetical opposition typical in early modern English thought, connects the king and the beggar. (58) Recalling Bilora's abject solicitation before his wife, Lear prostrates himself before Regan, begging for clothing, shelter, and food. She sees it as an "unsightly trick" (2.2.346), a cheap theatrical ploy on the order of Harman's charlatans, just as she and Goneril view his rush into the storm (2.2.489-97). Lear is not truly homeless; if he is not killed, which is clearly a real possibility within the fiction of the play, he will eventually be succored by friendly forces, as he is in fact by Cordelia and the French army. Albeit less consciously and deliberately than Edgar, Lear stages a theatrical fiction of poverty and charity, in which Shakespeare relies on some of the conventional fictions of the poor. The fool follows him into the "theater" of homelessness and becomes an eloquent, emblematic sight of deprivation--a figure of "houseless poverty" (3.4.26)--that prompts the "poor naked wretches" speech (3.4.28-36) and then, theatrically speaking, appears to summon "Poor Tom" out of the hovel as though from backstage, as an even more powerful symbolic and emblematic figure who effectively replaces the Fool.

Edgar, of course, is not a real Bedlam beggar but feigns the role as a theatrical and deliberate disguise. In both the Quarto and Folio versions, he announces and dons this role staged opposite the disguised Kent, whose decision to follow the king and play the role of the plain-speaking servant has placed him in the stocks, a punishment often associated with rogues and vagabonds. If Poor Tom's language relies upon the textual precedent of Samuel Harsnett's A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603), his role as a deranged beggar depends on texts like those of Harman and John Awdeley that describe the theatrical tricks and ruses of the "Abraham man." (59) Edgar's "presented nakedness" (2.2.182), which has the rhetorical goal of "enforc[ing] charity" (191), employs a "roaring" voice (185), gesture of an undoubtedly grotesque kind, rough props, a ferocious anticostume inscribed upon his own body, and an itinerant repertoire of terms and stories. Edgar is a virtuosic actor, deploying the roles of Poor Tom, a peasant, a west country yokel, a messenger, and a knight. And so if Edgar is in large part a literary con man, drawn from a literature that aims to emulate the disciplinary brand by exposing the protean shape-shifter for what he is, why is his poor theater so compelling?

Simply put, in the fictions of poor theater deployed within King Lear, Shakespeare makes a powerful argument for the capacity of theater to transform our ways of "seeing" and understanding the social world. It has been remarked, a bit cynically, that because Lear only changes his perceptions about justice and the equitable distribution of resources at the point when he has lost all power, that the play does not challenge the economic and political status quo. (60) But certainly Gloucester and Lear do change their ways of perceiving poverty and economic injustice, each pronouncing for a radical redistribution of resources (Gloucester: "So distribution should undo excess / And each man have enough" [4.1.73-74]; Lear:"... shake the superflux to them / And show the heavens more just" [3.4.35-36]). The theatrical sights of Lear, Gloucester, and Edgar do not so much "enforce" charity as make it once again epistemologically possible, especially for the upper classes, by means of a theater that melds emotions, thoughts, and the material, suffering body. Charity, as a radical cognitive realignment, is made possible by characters who view spectacles of suffering through the prism of new concrete physical sensations, such as cold, and new emotional experiences that allow them to "see it feelingly" (4.6.144). The characteristics of this poor theater, all locatable in Ruzante but not structured by the tragic syntheses of Shakespeare, are the following: (1) the Grotowskian conjunction of the body, language, and the emotions; (2) the continual alternation, in Lear and Edgar, between the roles of actor and spectator; and (3) the close connection, to the point of productive confusion, between reality and fiction.

Unlike Harman's con man, but doubtlessly similar to real beggars and the working poor who were constrained to deploy several income-generating identities at any given time, the fictions "played" by Lear, the Fool, Edgar, and Kent all share many points of contact with the actual states of these displaced aristocrats. With its several examples of the "shamefaced poor"--people from high station who have fallen into poverty-the play in many ways seems expressly designed to make an aristocratic audience rethink the issues of poverty and charity. Edgar has indeed become an unhoused, landless, fugitive vagrant, and the terrible logic of Lear's histrionic declaration to "abjure all roofs" is that his senses and emotions must experience the material consequences of his grand gesture. The disguised Kent's wry phrase "as poor as the King" (1.4.19-20) becomes a terrible reality, generating painful material consequences. Lear's grandiose and obscene prostration before Regan in the parodic role of a suppliant ironically rehearses his eloquent kneeling as he delivers the "poor naked wretches" speech. An extreme materializing logic means that characters become what they play, their fictions producing reality.

Both the signs of the vagrant poor--merely theatrical dissimulation, according to Harman--and the terrible realities of the unhoused are thoroughly confounded in this play. The blind vagrant, a type from the rogue pamphlets that might be nothing more than a cheap theatrical trick, is rendered terribly real by Gloucester's pathos. We really cannot determine within the given world of the play whether the rogue literature trope that discharged soldiers are always riotous and drunk is false or true (Lear asserts that they are "men of choice and rarest parts" [1.4.255], whereas Goneril sees them as "disordered" and "debauched" [1.4.233]). The role of Tom O'Bedlam, strangely introduced by Edmund himself (1.2.135-36), becomes a truer identity for Edgar than that of a duke's son ("Edgar I nothing am" [2.2.21]). (61) The marks theatrically inscribed by Edmund upon his own body (1.2.135-36), simulating a fight between him and Edgar that never occurred, prefigure the crude bodily inscriptions (recommended to Ruzante, we recall, by Menato and Gnua in H Parlamento) performed by Edgar upon his own body with the very instruments of the Abram-man (2.2.186-87).

Such a productive blend of fiction and reality often enlists the synecdochic powers of the theater, its capacity to represent the whole by the part--or in Hardt and Negri's terms, commonality by means of singularity, as, of course, the morality play does par excellence: (62) Like Ruzante with his vision of a hundred men, Edgar deliriously sees not only legions of devils, realized from the pages of Harsnett, but possibly at one point in the play, according to one editor, scores of beggars whom he summons together in a deranged poor theater of his mind as he cries out, "Loudla, doodla! Come, march to wakes and fairs / And market towns" (3.6.68-69, Quarto version). (63) Instead of representing the virtuosic bravura of the solo, comic survivor as with Ruzante and Autolycus, which is justly open to the charge of solipsism, this fictional "delusion" of Poor Tom is remarkably consonant with the social vision of the play, which continually "into a thousand parts divide[s] one man," (64) Thus Lear, in his socially reflective speeches before the hovel, instinctively slides from the singular, "you houseless poverty," to the plural, "poor naked wretches." Grigor Kozintsev's 1970 film version of King Lear brilliantly realized this, as it generally captured the social dimensions of the play by placing Edgar amidst a throng of beggars whom Lear beholds as he peers into the hovel. (65)

On an individual, familial level, the play poses ethical-interpretive cruxes that are not easily resolved. Doesn't Edgar's incapacity to reveal his true identity to his father before the very last moment amount to a kind of cruelty? If Lear's experience on the heath has indeed rendered him more humane, how does one explain the gratuitously cruel remarks that he makes to Gloucester about his blindness? (66) Viewing the play both socially and metatheatrically, with the theatrical fictions of the poor producing transformed social consciousness in Lear and Gloucester, can recontextualize some of these interpretive dilemmas. Edgar, from the social and theatrical perspective, must play an emblematic role before his father in order to transform his social consciousness. It is an especially radical poor theater, comparable to Beckettian minimalism, that Edgar plays before Gloucester, for the fact that his audience is blind (although he can still remember what Poor Tom looked like, stored as an emblematic vision in his mind) italicizes the senses of touch ("I see it feelingly") and hearing, as Edgar progresses through an astonishing range of lexical, formal (prose-verse), and dialectal shifts of the voice. Sensory realignment, knowledge incorporated onto the body, and cognitive dissonance all come together to teach Gloucester charity as a genuinely new epistemological frame. While still able to see, Gloucester apprehended Poor Tom merely as a sight of pessimistic disgust: "I'the last night's storm I such a fellow saw, / Which made me think a man a worm" (4.1.34-35). The blinded Gloucester is first succored by an old man who is described as both "poor" ("my father, poorly led" [4.1.10]) and as a longstanding tenant of Gloucester and his father--suggesting that when Gloucester reflects about social inequity (4.1.67-74), he might have realized that he and the longstanding structure of his aristocratic estate might have been part of the problem. If the new clothing that Lear dons for his mad scene has been viewed symbolically, so could the apparel that Gloucester bids the tenant give to Edgar. Similarly, the purse that Gloucester bestows to Edgar can be seen as an emblematic act of charity, as he delivers a speech that, by virtue of synecdoche, goes far beyond the singularity of the nuclear family:
 Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man
 That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
 Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly:
 So distribution should undo excess
 And each man have enough.

If Edgar's poor theater elicits, rather than enforces, charity from Gloucester, his continual asides ("I cannot daub it further" [4.1.55]; "Why I do trifle thus with his despair / Is done to cure it" [4.6.33-34]) show him repeatedly becoming spectator to the sight of his father's suffering. Epistemologically, he has "known the miseries of [his] father ... by nursing them" (5.3.179-80)--in a physical and tactile, not intellectual, manner. Especially pointed is the frequency by which the consummate actor Edgar becomes spectator to the sight of the suffering Lear ("My tears begin to take his part so much / They mar my counterfeiting" [3.6.59-60]; "When we our betters see bearing our woes ..." [3.6.99-112]; "O thou side-piercing sight" [4.6.85]). Although, as Stanley Cavell has demonstrated, the characters of King Lear often avoid direct mutual recognition, (67) a reciprocity of theatrical viewing, with the actor-spectator role continually reversed (as it is manifestly not in the comically virtuosic worlds of Ruzante and Autolycus's poor fictions), may in part make up for this.

Lear himself is both spectator and spectacle. The given world of the play is a manifestly uncharitable one, marked not only by the rapacious self-interest of the new man (Edmund, Cornwall) but also by the Fool's choral observation that "Fortune, that arrant whore, / Ne'er turns the key to the poor" (2.2.242-43). Moralistic explanations of poverty, the notion that the poor have deserved their state because of their moral deficiency (a popular refrain during the Reagan years), abound in the play. For Goneril and Regan, Lear's poverty is a self-inflicted "schoolmaster" (2.2.494). The Fool ascribes beggary to sexual appetite ("The codpiece that will house / Before the head has any [3.2.27-28]), and Poor Tom's fictive narrative of his own past follows similar moralistic lines: he is a "masterless man" displaced from court service because of sexual indiscretion ("Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly; and, in woman, out-paramoured the Turk" [3.4.88-90]) and thus could be seen to deserve his present state. Early in the play, Lear considers "superfluity" to be a general human characteristic ("Our basest beggars / Are in the poorest thing superfluous" [2.2.453-54]) rather than a class-specific condition as he does after beholding Poor Tom's "poor theater," which is in fact preceded by the Fool as a resonant object. Of the Fool's many functions in the play, perhaps the most crucial is his role as homeless companion to Lear, an emblematic "sight" of poverty in his own right so that Lear can be a spectator to suffering through the new sensory prism of his own deprivation. The crucial turning point in Lear's social consciousness, the first point in the play when he appears aware of the sufferings of others, occurs with the Fool:
 My wits begin to turn.
 [to the Fool] Come on, my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?
 I am cold myself.

 [to the Fool] Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
 That's sorry yet for thee.
 (3.2.67-69, 72-73)

Both actor and spectator in a poor theater, Lear's sensory experience of cold has generated a genuine cognitive realignment. Soon after that, he emblematically addresses the Fool as "You houseless poverty," and synecdochially shifts to the plural with the "poor naked wretches" speech, which ends with a call for the redistribution of resources very similar to that of Gloucester cited above, declaring, "Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, / That thou mayst shake the superflux to them / And show the heavens more just" (3.4.34-36). Edgar/Tom immediately emerges as a visual emblem of this speech, as a theatrically compelling sight for King Lear and as a viewer of Lear's state. For Lear's own part, deranged causal hypotheses for Poor Tom's state ("Have his daughters brought him to this pass?" [3.4.62]) give way, in effect, to "no cause, no cause" (4.7.75): the mere recognition that poverty exists and that the causes for it are not personal and moral but social and market forces that generate "superflux," the unjust and unequal distribution of resources.

Ruzante is an extremely local and particular writer, most obviously in his choice to write primarily in the Paduan dialect--a choice that unfortunately has prevented him from being as well known outside of Italy as he deserves to be. Shakespeare's work obviously cannot be understood apart from the particular political, social, and economic conditions of Elizabethan-Jacobean England. But in Ruzante's famine plays of 1529-30 and in The Winter's Tale, King Lear, and other plays of Shakespeare, the elemental seriousness and fundamental recognizability of a pan-European problem could generate an awareness of sameness in difference, and commonality in singularity. Food and shelter are fundamental human needs, and the often theatrical and fictional productions of the dispossessed as they struggle to thwart hunger and cold tend to resemble each other across national boundaries, especially if examined within the same historical period. Comparing, in Ruzante and Shakespeare, the agon between materiality and metatheatrical poesis in turn italicizes Shakespeare's achievement in King Lear, which might be said to translate the fictions of the poor from the monological virtuosity of Ruzante and Autolycus to a kind of theater of charity, in which the fictions transform the social consciousness of the internal audience, and possibly of the external audience as well.

Washington University in St. Louis


(1) My implicit allusion in the title of this essay to the Polish theorist Jerzy Grotowski is, at this point, suggestive rather than scientific, although Grotowskfs notion of a theater striving to strip itself of all but its most essential elements, deploying the material body of the actor in its athletic and ascetic extremity, has interesting points of contact with what I discuss here. See Jerzy Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968). A key idea in Grotowski's acting training, which I believe is relevant to the theaters of Ruzante and Shakespeare's Edgar, is the situating of the voice from different parts of the body (Towards a Poor Theatre, 174-204).

(2) Louise George Clubb, Italian Drama in Shakespeare's Time (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).

(3) For studies of actors "authoring" speeches in these two theaters, see David Wiles, Shakespeare's Clown: Actor and Text in the Elizabethan Playhouse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), and Robert Henke, "Orality and Literacy in the Commedia dell' Arte and the Shakespearean Clown," Oral Tradition 11 (1996): 222-48.

(4) Otto Schindler, "Zan Tabarino, 'Spielman des Kaisers.' Italienische Komodianten des Cinquecento zwischen den Hofen von Wien und Paris," Romische Historische Mitteilungen 43 (2001): 411-544.

(5) Archivio di Stato di Venezia, 729, Notatorio V, fol.s 69v-70, cited in Brian Pullan, "Poveri, mendicanti, e vagabondi (secoli XIV-XVII)," in Poverty and Charity: Europe, Italy, Venice, 1400-1700 (Aldershot, UK: Variorum, 1994), 1009.

(6) Ferrone's work, to be sure, is not primarily comparative, but he explicitly addresses these issues in "La vendita del teatro: Tipologie europee tra Cinque e Seicento," in The Commedia dell' Arte from the Renaissance to Dario Fo, ed. Christopher Cairns (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1989), 35-72. Ferrone's monumental book is Attori mercanti corsari: La commedia dell'arte in Europa tra Cinque e Seicento (Turin: Einaudi, 1993).

(7) Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).

(8) See Annamaria Evangelista, "Le compagnie dei Comici dell'Arte nel teatrino di Baldraccca a Firenze: Notizie degli epistolari (1576-1653)," Quaderni di teatro 24 (1984): 50-72.

(9) Two ma)or studies that approach early modern poverty from a pan-European point of view are Bronis aw Geremek, Poverty: A History, trans. Agnieszka Kolakowska (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), and Catherina Lis and Hugo Soly, Poverty and Capitalism in Pre-Industrial Europe, trans. James Coonan (Bristol: Humanities Press, 1979).

(10) Geremek, 78.

(11) Lis and Soly, 54.

(12) Ibid., 59.

(13) Ibid., 73.

(14) Karl Marx, "Verkaufer ihrer selbst," in Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, 3 vols. (1867; New York: International Publishers, 1967), 1:715.

(15) Although Goneril and Regan are not dismissing their own servants, but refusing to take on new ones, traces of the conflict between the older, feudal system and the new, more rationalized court might be heard in the sisters' refusal to house Lear's one hundred knights: "Goneril: What need you five and twenty? Ten? Or five? / To follow in a house where twice so many / Have a command to tend you? / Regan: What need one?" (2.2.450-52). Subsequent quotations from William Shakespeare, King Lear, ed. R. A. Foakes, Arden Shakespeare, 3rd ser. (London: Thomson Learning, 1997) are cited in the text.

(16) See, for example, the nuanced study of Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost: Further Explored (New York: Scribner, 1984), which questions commonplace myths such as the starving peasant. My thanks to David Schalkwyk for this reference.

(17) Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin, 2004). The term "multitude" is given its clearest definition at 103-38.

(18) William C. Carroll, Fat King, Lean Beggar: Representations of Poverty in the Age of Shakespeare (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), 33-39.

(19) Hardt and Negri, 129-38.

(20) Ibid., 108.

(21) Linda Woodbridge, Vagrancy, Homelessness, and English Renaissance Literature (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001).

(22) Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz, introduction to Rogues and Early Modern English Culture, ed. Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), 11.

(23) A. L. Beier, Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 1560-1640 (London: Methuen, 1985).

(24) See Pullan.

(25) Patricia Fumerton, Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

(26) The best recent treatment of Ruzante is Ronnie Ferguson, The Theatre of Angelo Beolco (Ruzante): Text, Context and Performance (Ravenna: Longo, 2000).

(27) Ibid., 111.

(28) Quoted in Brian Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic State, to 1620 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 244.

(29) Simone Well, "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force," in War and "The Iliad," trans. Mary McCarthy (New York: New York Review of Books, 2005), 1-37.

(30) La Seconda Orazione and La Moscheta were also composed in the wake of the famine, and, space permitting, could also be discussed in this regard.

(31) The title page of the first edition of the play dates its first performance and specifically ties the play to the Venetian famine: "Dialogo facetissimo et ridiculosissimo di Ruzzante. Recitato a fosson alla caccia, l'anno della carestia. 1528." Ferguson argues that the topical allusions to famine and war in the play mean that the "1528" must be taken as Venetian style, meaning 1529 according to the modern calendar, further specified as January 1529 by the play's opening lines. See Ferguson, 36.

(32) Dialogo facetissimo, scena prima, 2, p. 693. All Ruzante citations are from the definitive edition of Ludovico Zorzi, Ruzante: Teatro (Turin: Einaudi, 1967). The numbers indicated after the scene number refer to Zorzi's numeration. All translations from the Italian are my own.

(33) Ibid., scena prima, 3, p. 693.

(34) Ibid., scena prima, 5, p. 693.

(35) Ibid., scena prima, 10, 13, p. 695.

(36) Ibid., scena quinta, 80, p. 709.

(37) A lazzo performed also in La Moscheta, scena terza, p. 623, and, as we shall see, at the end of Parlamento.

(38) Dialogo facetissimo, scena quinta.

(39) See the "Scene of Despair" probably from the repertoire of the famous Harlequin Domenico Biancolelli, in Pierre-Louis Duchartre, The Italian Comedy: The Improvisation, Scenarios, Lives, Attributes, Portraits, and Masks of the Illustrious Characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, trans. Randolph T. Weaver (1929; New York: Dover, 1966), 150.

(40) Probably first performed on 6 February 1530 but not published until 1551. See Ferguson, 38-39.

(41) Parlamento, scena prima, 6, p. 519.

(42) Ibid., scena seconda, 48, p. 529.

(43) Carroll, 44-45.

(44) Parlamento, scena seconda, 36-37, pp. 524-26.

(45) Ibid., scena terza, 83, p. 537. This stage direction, to be sure, has been added by Zorzi.

(46) William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part 1, ed. David Scott Kastan, Arden Shakespeare, 3rd ser. (London: Thomson Learning, 2002).

(47) Parlamento, scena quinta, 103, p. 543.

(48) I certainly, however, would not wish to discount the imaginative power of a corporeally centered theatrical monologue.

(49) The play was probably first performed in 1530 and was not published until 1551. See Ferguson, 41.

(50) In his opening monologue, using a form of the word tirare each time, Bilora declares that he has been "pulled" by love from his native land (scena prima, 1), that love "pulls" harder than oxen (scena prima, 2), and complains about his work "pulling" barges (scena prima, 4).

(51) As Grotowski advocated for his athletic and ascetic actor.

(52) Ferguson, 38.

(53) William Shakespeare, The Second Part of King Henry VI, ed. Andrew S. Cairncross (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957), 2.1.

(54) Carroll, 168-75.

(55) See Fumerton.

(56) Quotations from William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, ed. J. H. P. Pafford, Arden Shakespeare (London: Thomson Learning, 1963) are cited parenthetically in the text.

(57) Both Carroll and Woodbridge have extensive discussions of King Lear and poverty, although neither focuses per se on the question of fiction. I am especially indebted to Woodbridge's argument that King Lear represents an advanced, progressive awareness of the problem and that both Lear and Gloucester significantly develop in regard to charity.

(58) For the antithetical opposition of "king" and "beggar," see Carroll, 8-15.

(59) Thomas Harman, A Caveat for Common Cursitors, Vulgarly Called Vagabonds, in Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars: A New Gallery of Tudor and Early Stuart Rogue Literature Exposing the Lives, Times, and Cozening Tricks of the Elizabethan Underworld, ed. Arthur Kinney (Barre: Imprint Society, 1973), 127-28. See also John Awdeley, The Fraternity of Vagabonds, in the same volume, 91.

(60) Linda Woodbridge surveys this critical trend (205-6). See Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology, and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 2nd ed. (Brighton: Harvestor Wheatsheaf, 1989), 192-93, and Walter Cohen, Drama of a Nation: Public Theater in Renaissance England and Spain (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 334.

(61) For the close relationship between the disguises assumed by Edmund and Edgar, see Carroll, 185-90.

(62) Maynard Mack examines King Lear in the light of the morality play, in "King Lear" in Our Time (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), 56-63.

(63) I quote from Rene Weis, King Lear: A Parallel Text Edition (London: Longman, 1993). Weis speculates that the "Loudla, doodla" of the Quarto version might have been a rallying cry for beggars (200). Poor Tom would then be summoning a throng of imaginary beggars.

(64) William Shakespeare, Henry V, ed. T. W. Craik, Arden Shakespeare, 3rd ser. (London: Thomson Learning, 2000), 1 Chorus 24.

(65) I would like to thank Jyotsna Singh for pointing out to me connections between a social reading of the play and Kozintsev's film.

(66) Stanley Cavell, "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear," in Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 39-123.

(67) Ibid.
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Author:Henke, Robert
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Date:Jun 22, 2007
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