Auctor Ludens: Essays on Play in Literature by Gerald Guinness, Andrew Hurley

By Gerald Guinness, Andrew Hurley

This can be a booklet approximately play perform instead of play concept. in fact, perform presupposes concept, yet right here the editors decide to hold basic theoretical assumptions below conceal instead of strength them into explicitness. The individuals to this quantity got loose rein to debate whatever point of literary play stuck their fancy. The absence of a predetermined theoretical framework has ended in an idiosyntractic quantity at the varied varieties of play.

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Then, since miracles of Christ and of his saints were thus effectual, as by our belief we are in certain, no man should use in bourde and play the miracles and works that Christ so earnestly wrought to our help for whoever so doth, he erreth in the belief, reverseth Christ, and scorneth God. 2 What both writers clearly renounce in horror is the "playing" with the miracles of God and His saints, the desecration—because make-believe presentation—of hagiographic mysteries and milestones of Christian faith, the human simulacrum of Divine action: after all, as they all knew, Lucifer fell because he imitated the Godhead.

It is not enough to perform for an audience; one must convince. And if one says "I am a sick man, a mean man," one must not only say it, but be it in manner and voice, while yet causing the audience to want it otherwise so as to have a receptacle of their sympathy. It is the reverse of Nick Carraway's protestation in The Great Gatsby that "I am the only thoroughly honest man I have ever known," which is both convincing and cautionary. John Dowell in Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier is much milder than the Underground Man, and he tells "the saddest story"--not the sort of thing likely to keep us up all night to see what happens next; moreover, he tells the story in such a rambling, forgetful, back-and-forth way that we must knit it up for ourselves out of his tangled skein.

The game-mode (ludus) in the Miller's Tale, when seen in parallel to the treatment of miracle-matter in the vernacular tradition of dramatic ludi, appears most clearly in the playful embroideries of sacred themes and their translations into secular (sexual and comic) action as well as in the double treatment of plots. In the Noah plays, for instance, Noah's shrewish wife, involved in much non-biblical slapstick comedy, becomes a popular medieval fixture. The Mac episode of the Second Shepherd's Play, on the other hand, presents a burlesque of the miracle of Virgin birth through the mechanical reenactment of the external details of the nativity.

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