In an impressively comparative work, Jane K. Brown explores the
tension in European drama between allegory and neoclassicism from
the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Imitation of nature
is generally thought to triumph over religious allegory in the
Elizabethan and French classical theater, a shift attributable to
the recovery of Aristotle's Poetics in the Renaissance.
But if Aristotle's terminology was rapidly assimilated, Brown
demonstrates that change in dramatic practice took place only
gradually and partially and that allegory was never fully cast off
The book traces a complex history of neoclassicism in which new
allegorical forms flourish and older ones are constantly
revitalized. Brown reveals the allegorical survivals in the works
of such major figures as Shakespeare, Calderón, Racine, Vondel,
Metastasio, Goethe, and Wagner and reads tragedy, comedy, masque,
opera, and school drama together rather than as separate
developments. Throughout, she draws illuminating parallels to modes
of representation in the visual arts.
A work of broad interest to scholars, teachers, and students of
theatrical form, The Persistence of Allegory presents a
fundamental rethinking of the history of European drama.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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