Examines the "power that wonder wields over reason in [Shakespeare's] late plays, both philosophically and drama-turgically".
"Reason Diminished" examines 'the power that wonder wields over reason in [Shakespeare's] late plays, both philosophically and dramaturgically'. Peter Platt posits that, in these famous plays, wonder and the marvelous are assigned preeminent positions over reason and order. In fact, Platt argues that the marvelous played a crucial role in Renaissance culture as a whole. The book opens by surveying theories of wonder from Aristotle's Poetics and Metaphysics through the writings of Renaissance theorists. A crucial chapter examines the many ways that the Renaissance attempted to bring the marvelous to bear on the world around it. The next two chapters look at the tension between realism and the marvelous in Elizabethan fiction and the theatrical tradition of the masque.Part of the book examines the role of wonder and the marvelous in Shakespeare's 'romances': "Pericles", "Cymbeline", "The Winter's Tale", and "The Tempest". 'Shakespeare's romances', writes Platt, 'represent various experiments with the marvelous'. Platt argues that 'late Shakespeare...invites the spectators to engage in - and in some cases to shape - the marvels on the stage before them'.A persuasive and resourceful study of some of Shakespeare's most celebrated works, "Reason Diminished" will add significantly to the ongoing reassessment of Shakespeare's plays and the world in which they took shape. Peter Platt is an assistant professor of English at Barnard College. This is his first book.
Table of Contents
Preface xi (6)
1 Theories of Wonder from Aristotle to the 1 (18)
2 Wonder and the Reformation of Images 19 (17)
3 Wonder and the Natural World 36 (30)
4 Wonder and Elizabethan Fiction 66 (33)
5 The Masque and the Marvelous 99 (25)
6 Pericles and the Wonder of Unburdened Proof 124 (15)
7 "Amaz'd with Matter" and "Perplex'd in 139 (14)
All": Wonder in Cymbeline
8 Reason Diminished: Wonder in The Winter's 153 (16)
9 Wonder Personified, Wonder Anatomized: The 169 (20)
Notes 189 (44)
Bibliography 233 (26)