The Essex House Masque of 1621: Viscount Doncaster and the Jacobean Masque

The Essex House Masque of 1621: Viscount Doncaster and the Jacobean Masque

Timothy Raylor $70.00

Published in 2000 | 224 pages | cloth | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0310-7


“The author brings his highly refined scholarship and expertise to the project. His editing work and textual analysis not only affirm his mastery of the subject, but they also make this difficult material very understandable, accessible, and fascinating to his audience—'students of the court masque.' . . . The author has composed a superbly concise and blessedly organized commentary.” — Sixteenth Century Journal


“Raylor's work in this edition is a gift to the field. It is unusual to be given a 'new' primary text, much less to be given a new text with such extensive commentary and annotation. The illustrations to the text—there are twenty-four in all—are incredibly helpful; rarely have I encountered a text whose illustrations are so well chosen, and so useful to understanding the text at hand. Raylor has clearly mastered the genre of the masque, the primary and secondary texts associated with masques, as well as the social and political scene of the early 1620s.” — Albion"

Book Information:

This edition results from the major discovery of the text of a Stuart court masque that had been presumed no longer extant. In the Portland Papers at the University of Nottingham, Raylor discovered the text⎯performed for the king, the court, and the visiting French ambassador in January 1621, on the eve of the Thirty Years War. This volume presents a fully annotated text, a full discussion of its staging, probable authorship, its literary and theatrical contexts, and its political significance. As a text and study of a newly discovered court masque, it is unique. Raylor reconstructs the political and cultural contexts of the masque, clarifying the diplomatic significance of the occasion and delineating the various political pressures, foreign and domestic, that impinged upon it. The new text is examined in detail. The philosophical and political implications of its fable are teased out; its literary, philosophical, and theatrical sources are traced, and attention is drawn to analogues and parallels with other contemporary masque and ballets de cour. Its staging and costuming are considered, and the question of its design and authorship is examined. Through his analysis, Raylor establishes the extraordinary artistry of the text and argues that it was one of the most intriguing, brilliant, and carefully structured of all the Stuart masques. The Essex House Masque will be of great interest to students of Literary Studies, theater, and history, who have, for a number of years now, been increasingly interested in the court masque as a site where political power and the arts intersect.

Author Information:

TIMOTHY RAYLOR is associate professor of English at Carleton College, where he has taught since 1992. He is the coeditor of Culture and Cultivation in Early-Modern England (1992), of Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation (1994), and was guest editor of a special issue of The Seventeenth Century entitled The Cavendish Circle (1994). His Cavaliers, Clubs, and Literary Culture: Sir John Mennes, James Smith and the Order of Fancy (1994) was one of Choice's "Outstanding Academic Books of 1995." Professor Raylor is currently editing Hobbe's "Answer" to The Preface to Gondibert and the manuscript essay Of Passions for the Clarendon Hobbes.


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