Review by Choice Review
Newcomb's study centers on Robert Greene's Pandosto (1588), a work well known as the source of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, but one that Shakespeare scholars have dismissed as "popular" (as distinguished from "literary"). Exploring the cultural construction of that opposition, Newcomb (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) suggests answers to a number of challenging questions. Why did elite authors and readers of the early modern period feel so pressured to distinguish their pleasure reading from that of others? Since both are prose romances in courtly language, what made Sidney's Arcadia "literary" whereas Pandosto came to be regarded as merely "popular"? Why do Shakespeare scholars react so negatively to Pandosto? Why did the 18th-century novel use romance reading as a class marker for the female servant? Newcomb's tracing of Pandosto's fortunes is fascinating. She shows that up to the mid-19th century it was frequently reprinted (under various titles, and including chapbook abridgements and versifications) and that it was often situated near the boundary between elite and popular literature. All students of popular literature and of the history of the book will find much value here. Extensive notes and index. Appropriate for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. B. E. Brandt South Dakota State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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