A vigorous classical tradition was adopted and adapted in the English Renaissance, a way of satirical writing that we call Menippean discourse. This tradition was well known to Shakespeare; indeed, it challenged his deepest creative instincts, and he deployed it extensively in his Troilus and Cressida. While delineating Menippean elements in Troilus, we also confront certain problems involved in defining— even in discussing—genre and character. Whether or not a distinct genre,traditionally called Menippean satire, can be arrived at or agreed upon remains problematic, as does the concept of genre itself. Instead, we attempt to establish a taxonomy that isolates and identifies what we call the major colligatory motifs, numerous yet distinct, that constitute Menippean discourse, recognizing and applying where profitable the generic analysis of Garry Sherbert (influenced by Northrup Frye), Mikhail Bakhtin's cultural-historical view of Menippean texts, and the taxonomic work of Eugene Kirk, Joel C. Relihan, and W. Scott Blanchard. The result of our study is a strong indication that Shakespeare's apprehension of the classical tradition was wide and deep, with an abiding concern for traditional forms and a bold,even daring tendency to experiment radically with those forms but especially with structure and characterization.
Research Article|June 01 2002
A Measure for Menippean Discourse: The Example of Shakespeare
Poetics Today (2002) 23 (2): 291-326.
Edward J. Milowicki, Robert Rawdon Wilson; A Measure for Menippean Discourse: The Example of Shakespeare. Poetics Today 1 June 2002; 23 (2): 291–326. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-23-2-291
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