MARTIN BUTLER. The Stuart Court Masque and Political Culture.

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Martin Butler’s monumental Stuart Court Masque and Political Culture returns to the relatively well-trodden territory of the relationship between the seventeenth-century court masque form and its political moment. The recognition of the significance of these politics was, along with their advocacy of the theatrical, philosophical and aesthetic importance of the genre, the outstanding achievement of Stephen Orgel and Roy Strong’s Inigo Jones: The Theatre of the Stuart Court (1973), and the lynchpin of Orgel’s seminal work on the masque before that. This insight galvanized study of the masque form and, as Butler points out elsewhere, removed some of the embarrassment caused by what seemed like the collaboration of the artist with state power (see Butler, ‘Courtly Negotiations’, in Bevington and Holbrook (eds), The Politics of the Stuart Court Masque (CUP, 1998), pp. 20–40). Butler’s book revisits this question but returns to a transformed landscape. Over the past fifteen or so years, critical understanding of the masque has been altered by the work of scholars who attend to it as interdisciplinary performance, as dance, to its archival records, to questions of gender and women’s masque performance, to the political structures of the Jacobean and Caroline courts, to the courts and households of the Stuart consorts and royal children, to the relationships between court festival in Scotland and England and between England the continent, and to the reconsideration of Jonson’s place as the writer of the majority of court masques and as court poet. Butler’s return to the relationship of theatre and political moment in the ephemeral masque genre is, then, timely and his engagement with the work of recent years and his own authority as a masque scholar gives him an ideal vantage point from which to survey this changed field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-528
Number of pages3
JournalThe Review of English Studies
Issue number265
Early online date15 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

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