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, and the Henry IV–V–VI plays – work which is largely developmental, historiographical or pure entertainment. Looking forward in the playwright’s career, one finds the ruthless middle comedies, profound tragedies and, at a breathing distance, the romances. Before creating Caesar, Shakespeare created Falstaff; afterwards, he created Lear. Before creating

in Reading Shakespeare’s mind
Divine destruction in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

romance, The Famous Historie of Fryer Bacon ( c. 1555), the earliest surviving printed edition of which was published in 1627. In this prose romance, the head falls ‘downe’, and following the event of ‘a terrible noyse, with strange flashes of fire’, is found ‘broken and lying on the ground’ when the smoke clears. 7 In contrast, Greene’s play shows the destruction of the head by a disembodied

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama

Ayesha Ramachandran argues that “By associating the Elizabethan court with the romance garden rather than the epic battlefield, Spenser reveals and redefines the power relations that are at stake: romance is the world of Circe’s bed, of Acrasia’s garden and Aragnoll’s web, a world where the artfulness of women, the duplicity and dissimulation associated with female power, prevails over single-minded epic might” (Ramachandran, “Clarion,” 81). With one exception, even the Old Historicists, however, generally hesitated to identify Venus allegorically, despite their often

in Spenserian satire