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Mucedorus: the last ludic playbook, the first stage Arcadia

Gilchrist, Kim 2019. Mucedorus: the last ludic playbook, the first stage Arcadia. Shakespeare 15 (1) , pp. 1-20. 10.1080/17450918.2017.1393455

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This article argues that two seemingly contradictory factors contributed to and sustained the success of the anonymous Elizabethan play Mucedorus (c. 1590; pub. 1598). First, that both the initial composition of Mucedorus and its Jacobean revival were driven in part by the popularity of its source, Philip Sidney's Arcadia. Second, the playbook's invitation to amateur playing allowed its romance narrative to be adopted and repurposed by diverse social groups. These two factors combined to create something of a paradox, suggesting that Mucedorus was both open to all yet iconographically connected to an elite author's popular text. This study will argue that Mucedorus pioneered the fashion for “continuations” or adaptations of the famously unfinished Arcadia, and one element of its success in print was its presentation as an affordable and performable version of Sidney's elite work. The Jacobean revival of Mucedorus by the King's Men is thus evidence of a strategy of engagement with the Arcadia designed to please the new Stuart monarchs. This association with the monarchy in part determined the cultural functions of the Arcadia and Mucedorus through the Interregnum to the close of the seventeenth century.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1745-0918
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 20 September 2017
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2021 10:30

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