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The Curiosity of Nations: Shakespeare Thinks of the World

La Curiosité des nations: Shakespeare pense le monde
Richard Wilson

Résumés

Cet essai s’intéresse au nom du théâtre de Shakespeare, le « Globe », à la lumière des débats entre globalisation et cette véritable expérience du monde que de récents philosophes ont appelée mondialisation. Quelle signification donner aux mots, quand les acteurs baptisaient leur espace de jeu théâtre du monde ? Contrairement à ceux qui, comme les organisateurs de l’exposition « Shakespeare metteur en scène du monde » au British Museum en 2012, s’imaginent que ce nom est synonyme de fierté anglaise face aux multiples entreprises de conquête et d’exploration, un symbole de fausse universalité qui témoignerait de la domination mondiale de la culture anglo-américaine, ou même de la BBC, cet essai montre que pour le dramaturge la rotondité matérielle de « ce grand globe » [The Tempest, 4, 1, 149] était l’indice de la spécificité de l’Angleterre, caractérisée par son retard et sa dépendance vis à vis d’« un monde ailleurs » [Coriolanus, 3, 3, 139] et son conformisme.

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  • 1 As You Like It, 2, 7, 136, in The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean Ho (...)
  • 2 Peter Davidson, ‘The Iconography of the Globe’, in J. R. Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (ed.), Shake (...)

1What were Shakespeare and his fellows thinking when they called their playhouse the Globe? How, in the dramatist’s own proto-Hegelian expression, did they ‘think of the world’ [Julius, 1, 2, 301]? The name they attached in 1599 to ‘This wide and universal theatre’ provokes this question, as much as it cries out to be revisited in the context of twenty-first century debates about the competing claims of universalism and pluralism. Yet it has become so familiar even Shakespeare scholars rarely give its historical significance much thought.1 Theatre historians have, of course, long inferred that in christening their playhouse the Globe its founders commissioned ‘a decorative scheme intended to foster an emblematic conception of the theatre as a microcosm […] a theatre of the world.’2 But the ways in which the ancient topos of the Theatrum Mundi, and the Pythagorean metaphor that ‘All the world’s a stage’ [As You Like It, 2, 7, 138], resonated with Drake’s circumnavigation of 1577-1580, or Ortelius’s cartographic ‘theatre of the world,’ the 1570 atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, remain strangely unexplored.

  • 3 ‘Round earth’s imagined corners’: John Donne, ‘Holy Sonnet 7’, in The Complete English Poems of Joh (...)
  • 4 ‘The idea that the events’: Paul Binding, Imagined Corners: Exploring the World’s First Atlas, Lond (...)
  • 5 Frances Yates, Theatre of the World, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969, p. 189; ‘dialogically re (...)

2The Dutch mapmaker styled his volume a theatre precisely because he pictured ‘the round earth’s imagined corners’ framing a spectacle within a classical architecture like that of Andrea Palladio’s contemporary Teatro Olimpico: a perspective scene in which the global drama would be acted out according to the unities of time and space.3 So the frontispiece to the Theatre of the Lands of the World has a design based on a proscenium arch, crowned by twin hemispheres, from behind which ‘will emerge the show of the world’s countries,’ as in an actual theatre ‘actors recite lines and perform actions that add up to a completed whole, the play itself, an analogue for amassed knowledge.’4 It is not necessary, therefore, to go so far as Frances Yates, who fantasized about the Globe as a cosmic memory theatre, like that in Peter Greenaway’s film Prospero’s Books, to appreciate how this cartographic model for ‘the idea that the events, features, and phenomena of the created world are infinitely many but all one,’ worked two ways, and how the roundness of Shakespeare’s theatre and Ortelian cosmography were ‘dialogically related’:5

  • 6 Juegen Schulz, ‘Maps as Metaphors: Mural Map Cycles of the Italian Renaissance’, in David Woodward (...)

The Globe Theatre […] would have been for Shakespeare the pattern of the universe, the idea of the Macrocosm, the world stage on which the Microcosm acted his parts. All the world’s a stage. The words are in a real sense the clue to the Globe Theatre.6

  • 7 Anne Barton, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play, London, Chatto & Windus, 1962, p. 61.
  • 8 J. Gillies, op. cit., p. 90-91.

3Anne Barton observed that it was only at the time of the first terrestrial globes, in the mid-sixteenth century, ‘that the image of the world as a stage entered English drama.’7 So, though such self-reflexivity would become the name of the game throughout Renaissance theatre, it is hard not to feel that when he has a character sigh that ‘I count the world but as […] A stage where every man must play a part’ [The Merchant of Venice, 1, 1, 77-78], Shakespeare’s unique meta-theatricality and self-awareness are in relativizing ways keyed to the inquisitiveness with which he has himself been ‘peering in maps for ports and piers and roads’ [ibid., 1, 1, 19]. On this newly round world-stage an Antonio will discover he has to share the same space as Shylock. For whether or not the figure of ‘Hercules and his load’ [Hamlet, 2, 2, 345], or Atlas hefting the globe, was the actual sign of the playhouse; and whether the Latin motto translated in As You Like It, the first Globe comedy – ‘Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem’ – was literally written over its stage, the name of this circular house implied an entire philosophy of life as a unified play, a humanist concept that in Ortelius’s case biographers connect to his membership of the idealist Protestant sect, the Family of Love. And in one of the few accounts to grasp what was implied in such a name, John Gillies points out that, just as the new geography gained legitimacy from the old idea of the world-as-theatre, so theatre acquired a new universalism from its association with contemporary cartography, allowing plays like Tamburlaine and Henry V to communicate ‘the exhilaration of both dramatist and audience with the imagined conquest of geographic space.’8

  • 9 See, for instance, the Epilogue, ‘The World Stage’, in Paul A. Kottman, A Politics of the Scene, St (...)
  • 10 P. Binding, op. cit., p. 100.
  • 11 Marshal McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Toronto, Toronto University P (...)

4Critics have long perceived that what distinguishes Elizabethan theatre, and above all Shakespeare, is the way in which this drama abolishes the representational difference between ‘world and stage,’ purposefully literalizing the ancient and clichéd philosophical metaphor.9 Thus, all Elizabethan plays were acted within what was effectively a world map in its own right, Gillies reminds us. Yet the moment of the Globe, which was in fact the heyday of actual globe manufacture, was also an instant when the concept of earth’s revolving roundness was delivering an unprecedented and unnerving shock to the European psyche, as the persecution of Shakespeare’s exact contemporary Galileo testified.10 So, when he had Puck promise to ‘put a girdle round about the earth / In forty minutes’ [A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2, 1, 175], the dramatist registered how uncanny the notion of the earth’s curvature, and Europe’s consequent relativity, appeared to a generation experiencing the literal disorientation entailed by the terrestrial sphere: ‘that it was possible to travel in a straight-line course’ yet come back to the same place.11 For East was West, and outside inside, according to these distancing and defamiliarizing planispheres, as John Hale observed in his book, The Civilisation of Europe in the Renaissance. Hale’s inference, that Europe’s self-positioning within planetary space marked the point when inhabitants of this peninsular of Eurasia became ‘civilized,’ has been criticised for ethnocentrism. But what the historian described was the loss of Europe’s exceptionality, and the sense of worldliness that arose from cartographic exposure:

  • 12 John Hale, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance, London, Harper Collins, 1993, p. 20.

In spite of the prominence subsequently accorded to the political role of Spain, France, and England, neither atlases nor maps showed any bias towards Europe. Devoid of indications of national frontiers, they were not devised to be read politically […]. In spite of the dramatic power games among countries of the West, the cartographers’ horror vacui retained an even-handed deployment of information across the board. Neither cartographers nor traders thought in terms of an economically ‘advanced’ West and a ‘backward’ or marginally relevant East.12

  • 13 Neil MacGregor, Shakespeare’s Restless World, London, Allen Lane, 2012, p. 5-6. For an authoritativ (...)
  • 14 Francis Barker, The Culture of Violence: Tragedy and History, Manchester, Manchester University Pre (...)
  • 15 ‘Caught up in the new Protestant future’, N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 28.

5In Shakespeare’s Restless World, a hurried spin-off, via a radio series, of the blockbuster 2012 exhibition, ‘Shakespeare Staging the World,’ British Museum Director Neil MacGregor relates the first English terrestrial globes, created for the Inns of Court by Emery Molyneux in 1592, to what he terms the sixteenth-century ‘space race,’ and proposes that when such objects ‘went on triumphant public display’ before Queen Elizabeth’s courtiers, ‘Shakespeare would almost certainly have been amongst them.’ So, when Oberon boasts how ‘We the globe can compass soon, / Swifter than the wandering moon’ [A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 4, 1, 95-96], according to this exclamatory chauvinistic reading, ‘Shakespeare’s very English fairies are, in their whimsical, poetical way, restating the nation’s pride’ in England’s national advance from piracy to paramountcy.13 Evidently, MacGregor is deaf to the anti-Elizabethan nuance of that ‘wandering moon.’ Of course, the representation of space is never neutral, as Francis Barker noted of Lear’s cadastral map, for the ‘chart of sovereign possession is always a field of struggle […] the focus of power and danger, and site of powered or impotent linguistic performances. The map, and the land it obliquely represents, are caught up in a force-field of language and desire, as well as of possession.’14 But the identification of Shakespeare’s fairy ‘roundel’ [A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2, 2, 1] with Elizabethan empire, as if it is ‘caught up in the new Protestant future of northern Europe’ imaged in charts of Drake’s circumnavigation, misses what makes a comedy like A Midsummer Night’s Dream so subversive, which is that it is precisely when Puck puts ‘a girdle round about the earth’ that everything starts to go pear-shaped.15

  • 16 Ibid., p. 10 and 285-286, quoting Jonathan Bate.
  • 17 Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, Part One, 4, 4, 84, in The Complete Plays of Christophe (...)
  • 18 Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning From More to Shakespeare, Chicago, University of Ch (...)
  • 19 N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 286.

6At the British Museum the fact that Shakespeare was writing at the moment when for the first time Londoners got ‘a real visual sense of the whole world, and in particular of the roundness of the world,’ is used to associate the plays with a universalism which the Director identifies expressly, at the end of his book, with the global mission of the BBC, as represented in Eric Gill’s 1932 sculpture, above the portal of Broadcasting House, of Prospero and Ariel astride a revolving globe.16 Shakespeare is thus recruited to the museum’s long-term project, attractive to its donors, of validating empire as a necessary phase of globalization. Of course, if we want to see how such an Anglocentric projection of an imaginary universality was prefigured in Elizabethan theatre, we need look no further than the stage of Shakespeare’s precursor, Marlowe, upon which his Tamburlaine operates like some cartographical maniac, whose perpetual motion across a thousand plateaus, and scheme to ‘make the point’ of the meridian himself,17 renders all spaces the same, annihilating every cultural difference, ‘as if to insist on the essential meaninglessness’ of geographical distance. Such homogenizing of space, the register, Stephen Greenblatt believes, of ‘transcendental homelessness,’ was surely keyed to the equalizing impact of the pioneer planispheres that Marlowe studied in the office of his spymaster Walsingham.18 But the result is that his plays really do aspire to the false universalism MacGregor attributes to Shakespeare, as they struggle to prove that ‘the essence of what it is to be restlessly human in a constantly restless world’ is to speak and behave exactly like the dramatist:19

  • 20 Tamburlaine the Great, Part Two, 5, 3, 145-150, in C. Marlowe, op. cit., p. 236-237.

Look here, my boys, see what a world
Lies westwards from the midst of Cancer’s line,
Unto the rising of this earthly globe,
Whereas the sun declining from our sight,
Begins the day with our antipodes:
And shall I die with this unconquered?20

  • 21 J. Hale, op. cit., p. 20.
  • 22 Robert Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battl (...)

7On Marlowe’s stage where everyone speaks the same, globalization means colonization, and universality is conterminous with an Anglo-Saxon imperium. ‘Give me a map,’ his buccaneer hero therefore orders, ‘then let me see how much / Is left to conquer of the world’ [ibid., 5, 3, 123-124]. But though the cartographic revolution gave Europeans just such an intellectual edge, in being the first ‘to imagine the geographical space in which they lived’ in terms of rational relations, this came at the cost of a relativity that contradicted their age-old assumptions of spatial priority.21 Thus, despite the will to ‘Smite flat the thick rotundity of the world’ [King Lear, 3, 2, 8] with maps, historians insist that the mathematical projection of the globe unhinged, rather than reinforced, Eurocentric prejudices, hopes and fears. As the geographer Robert Kaplan remarks, far from confirming Europe’s fond illusions about perpetual peace, individual freedom, or human brotherhood, the advent of universal cartography during Shakespeare’s lifetime in fact called time on the Renaissance dream of ‘gentle concord in the world’ [Dream, 4, 1, 140], for it was then that maps started to serve ‘as a rebuke to the very notions of the equality and unity of mankind,’ and to register ‘all the different environments of the earth that make men profoundly unequal and disunited in so many ways, leading only to conflict,’ a dissensus with which their realism is exclusively concerned.22

  • 23 Peter Sloterdijk, Globes: Spheres II: Macrospherology, trans. Wieland Hoban, South Pasadena CA, Sem (...)
  • 24 Francesco Bethencourt, Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century, Princeton, Princeton Un (...)

8To recent historians of the map, the image of ‘this world’s globe’ [2Henry VI, 3, 2, 406] is an emblem of the disenchantment of the world, a record of ‘the collapse of the metaphysical immune system that had stabilized the imaginary of Old Europe,’ in Peter Sloterdijk’s terms, and the revenge of geography on political theology.23 A modern sense of racial separation begins, they suggest, with Ortelius’s frontispiece, where female icons of Europe, Asia, Africa and America embody incompatible potentialities.24 According to this counter-intuitive historiography, the ‘little O o’th’earth’ [Antony, 5, 2, 79], ‘the narrow world’ [Julius, 1, 2, 135], would thereby figure for Shakespeare’s generation of Europeans as its objet petit a, the entity that, in the terms of Jacques Lacan, is a cause, rather than an object of desire, the signifier on whose account we desire and pursue the whole. And it is true that repeated metatheatrical references in the plays to the gaping ‘wooden O’ as a ‘naughty world’ [Merchant, 5, 1, 91], an incomplete ‘little world’ [Richard II, 2, 1, 44; 5, 5, 9; Lear, 3, 1, 10], or hungry ‘O without a figure’ [1, 4, 168], do sexualize, not to say feminize, its aporetic significance in ways that equate to the problematic depiction of the terrestrial sphere in late Renaissance art. In Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West, Jerry Brotton and Lisa Jardine zoom in, for instance, on one of the best known pictorial representations of a globe, lying between the French envoys in Holbein’s double-portrait of 1533, The Ambassadors, and argue that it has been turned to show Brazil to record an aspiration to French imperial power that is ‘desperately counterpointed’ with France’s geopolitical marginality. So, far from the cultural triumphalism that Edward Said attributed in Orientalism to Europe’s conceptualizations of its demonized other, Holbein’s globe, alongside the haunting anamorphic skull, broken lute, and other distracting symbols of failure and frustration, is an emblem of unsatisfied desire and intellectual defeat:

  • 25 Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West, Ithaca, Co (...)

In Holbein’s The Ambassadors the aspiration towards imperial power figures as an absence or as a space between the participants portrayed […]. The possibility of filling the void at the centre of the composition depended on the outcome of events imminent at the time it was painted […]. And all of these outcomes were political failures.25

  • 26 P. Sloterdijk, op. cit., p. 57.
  • 27 Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce, trans. Sian Reynolds, London, Collins, 1982, p. 199.

9Holbein’s globe functions as a momento mori, the cartographic equivalent of those impossible objects and mathematical puzzles which drive his Melancholia to despair, for it begs ‘the question of the location of the middle, and consequently the identity and residence of the overlord.’26 Indeed, as soon as Tamburlaine calls for a map, to show him the western hemisphere of ‘this earthly globe,’ even Marlowe’s terminator dies with ‘this unconquered.’ So, Marlowe’s Tartar may bequeath his empire to his heirs, but he is never more of a disoriented Elizabethan than when yearning to ‘win the world’ by circumnavigating ‘along the oriental sea […] about the Indian continent: / Even from Persepolis to Mexico, / And thence unto the Straits of Jubalter’ [Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1, 3, 3, 253-256]. For this was, of course, the global circuit, from Acapulco to Manila via Gibraltar, completed by those convoys of ‘embarkéd traders,’ grown ‘big-bellied’ on ‘the spiced Indian air’ [A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2, 1, 124-125], that Fernand Braudel described as the most complex trade cycle ever known. Yet the historian of the Mediterranean went on to explain how this great wheel of multilateral exchange reduced the Old World to the incidental position of a conduit, as between producing and accumulating countries, Europe and Islam now both came to function as ‘intermediate transit zones’: the fate, in particular, of Venice.27 In contrast to Marlowe’s world-conquerors, however, this intermediacy is precisely what seems to exhilarate a Shakespearean character such as Falstaff, when he plans to traffic between two mistresses:

Here’s another letter to her. She bears the purse too. She is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty. I will be cheaters to them both, and they shall be exchequers to me. They shall be my East and West Indies, and I will trade with them both. [The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1, 3, 58-62]

  • 28 Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffics and Discoveries of the English Nation(...)
  • 29 Harry Levin, ‘Introduction’, in William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, New York, Signet, 1962, (...)

10Between Marlowe’s map and Shakespeare’s sphere, we already discern the contrast between what would become globalization and the mondialisation or worlding of the rounded planet. For with his stress on the earthly, Shakespeare’s worldliness seems always to bring the planet back to its ‘rotundity.’ Thus, ‘She is spherical like a globe,’ jokes Syracusian Dromio of Nell, the kitchen maid, in The Comedy of Errors, with genitals like the Netherlands, and buttocks next to Irish bogs, but a face in the image of America, ‘embellish’d with rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich aspect to the hot breath of Spain, who sent whole armadas of carracks to be ballast to her nose’ [The Comedy of Errors, 3, 2, 113-135]. The geographer Richard Hakluyt, claiming to be the only one to compare ‘the old imperfectly composed and the new lately reformed maps, globes [and] spheres,’ had just promoted the first English globes in his 1589 Voyages, as ‘collected and reformed according to the secretest and latest discoveries, both Spanish, Portuguese and English.’28 The Comedy of Errors was acted in 1592 at the Inns of Court: so alongside the very globes it mocks. But Dromio’s jest reveals how rapidly the circular logic of the global economy became public property, and with it an awareness that the exotic and domestic were intimately connected. As Harry Levin footnoted it, this very first Shakespearean reference to a terrestrial globe thereby condenses the relativizing theme of the comedy, that the far and the near, home and away, have become uncannily interrelated: ‘it embodies, on a more than miniature scale, the principal contrast of the play: on the one hand, extensive voyaging; on the other intensive domesticity.’29 It is this bilateral exchange that makes Dromio’s gag more than the crudely sexist projection of English acquisitiveness and colonialism that MacGregor finds it. For, as with Falstaff’s ‘intercontinental’ trading, what we encounter with Nell’s ‘globalization’ is something truly Shakespearean, the realization, analysed by Patricia Fumerton in Cultural Aesthetics, that the real savages are to be discovered in Windsor or the City of London, and that the most monstrous Other is the Self:

  • 30 Patricia Fumerton, Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament, (...)

It was foreign trade – especially the East India Company’s trade in spices – that supplied many of the ornaments, void stuff, and other trivia of the [English] aristocracy as well as an increasing proportion of its finances […]. What this underscored was that the trade that increasingly supplied the living of the aristocratic ‘self’ was also importing into that self an element so foreign to its self-image as ‘gifted’ that it was conceptually ‘savage’. More accurately, foreign trade exposed the fact that barbarousness had from the first been at the heart of the self.30

  • 31 N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 6 and 10.
  • 32 Michel de Montaigne, ‘Of Cannibals’, in The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne, trans. M. A. Sc (...)
  • 33 Richard Marienstras, New Perspectives on the Shakespearean World, trans. Janet Lloyd, Cambridge, Ca (...)

11‘He does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies’ [Twelfth Night, 3, 2, 66-68], reports Maria of Malvolio’s attempts to ‘revolve’ [ibid., 2, 5, 125] his personality; and the allusion to Hakluyt’s travelogue, now ‘augmented’ with a rhumb-lined map of the East Indies, far from being keyed to ‘the triumph of English seafaring,’ as the British Museum claims, reflects the hubris of these global pretensions back on the upstart steward. Rather than heralding ‘England’s great success’ in ‘plundering and exploration, scientific inquiry and geopolitical manoeuvring,’ as MacGregor has it, Shakespeare’s own revolving on the new cartography truly brings the colonial project full circle in this way, by associating it, long before Jane Austen linked slavery to Mansfield Park, with the upstairs-downstairs cruelties of the English stately home, where it is ‘My lady’ who is ‘a Cathayan’ [Twelfth Night, 2, 3, 68].31 Thus, ‘I can hardly forbear hurling things at him,’ says Maria [ibid., 2, 5, 69]; and Sir Andrew: ‘I’d beat him like a dog’ [ibid., 2, 3, 126]. So no wonder the author of these comedies loved Montaigne, for he clearly shared the Frenchman’s sense that the atrocities of cannibals were nothing compared to the violence ‘we have not only read about, but seen ourselves in recent memory, not among the savages or in antiquity, but among our fellow citizens and neighbours.’32 In The Comedy of Errors the horror that impels the plot is averted when Egeon is reprieved from execution; but these comic allusions to globalization all foretell the tragic consciousness of dramas like King Lear, where as Richard Marienstras wrote in Le Proche et le Lontain, ‘at a time when newly discovered lands were providing a far distant setting for wild nature, Shakespeare situates it within the bounds of civilised, indeed everyday life,’ and in every case, ‘the near is more dangerous than the far’:33

This is most strange.
That she, whom even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most blest, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous. [King Lear, 1, 1, 214-218]

  • 34 Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance Eng (...)
  • 35 J. Gillies, op. cit., p. 100-106.
  • 36 Julia Lupton, Thinking With Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life, Chicago, University of Chicag (...)

12‘What, in our house?’ [Macbeth, 2, 3, 8]: Lady Macbeth’s housewifely protest at the murder of Duncan is disingenuous, but this only intensifies the uncanny homeliness that haunts these plays, and that so offended Voltaire, where the domestic signifiers of tragedy are Gertrude’s shoes or Othello’s handkerchief. What Greenblatt calls the ‘Machiavellian hypothesis’ about the contingency of all behaviour and beliefs, provoked by the shock of the first New World encounters, seems to be being tested by this writer, not on some stranger in a strange land, as it is by Marlowe, but on the audience, as Shakespeare takes what goes around seriously, and brings the global back to hearth and home.34 For rather than projecting onto ‘the barbarous Scythian’ [King Lear, 1, 1, 116] the dread that ‘Humanity must perforce prey upon itself, / Like monsters of the deep’ [ibid., 4, 2, 50-51], this veritably revolutionary thinking locates the terror ‘in our house’ instead. The authentic Shakespearean voice is therefore heard for the first time when Tamora, queen of the Goths, interrupts Titus’s triumph to protest against the Roman custom of human sacrifice as a ‘cruel irreligious piety’ [Titus Andronicus, 1, 1, 130]. For in showing how the host turns hostile, in dramas where, as Gillies says, it is the alien who is in danger, and ‘the exotic character who courts our sympathy even as the voyager forfeits it,’ Shakespeare ‘creates his own “heart of darkness,”’ not in Africa or the Indies, but in the European house.35 Housekeeping, in the sense of the economics of the hospitality we owe the world, which yet carries the risk of being consumed by it, seems indeed to be far more of a concern here, in response to circumspection about the globe, than how much of it is left to conquer, as Julia Lupton deduces: for ‘whether it is in Capulet’s bedroom, Brabantio’s parlour, Macbeth’s guest suite, or Timon’s banqueting house, hospitality chez Shakespeare’ sets the table for our own debates about polis and oikos, norm and exception, the universal versus the particular.36

  • 37 See Walter Cohen, ‘The Undiscovered Country: Shakespeare and Mercantile Geography’, in Jean Howard (...)
  • 38 Timothy Brook, Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World, London, Pro (...)

13Shakespeare keeps house in settings stuffed with luxury goods from across the world, like those husbanded by the tycoon Gremio in The Taming of the Shrew: ‘Tyrian tapestry […] Turkey cushions bossed with pearl, / Valance of Venice gold in needlework […] and all things that belongs / To house or housekeeping’ [The Taming of the Shrew, 2, 1, 341-348].37 But in Vermeer’s Hat, his dazzling book about the way the global economy penetrated Dutch interiors, Timothy Brook points out that these texts record the specific phase of second contacts in the development of a world market, the sequel when the age of discovery trumpeted by Marlowe was over, and ‘rather than deadly conflict, there was negotiation and borrowing; rather than triumph and loss, give and take; rather than the transformation of cultures, their interaction.’38 After the great clash of civilizations, the seventeenth century would be a mercantilist era of tariffs and trade-offs, recounts Brook, a time for measurement, calculation, and stocktaking that he finds punctually registered in the Shakespearean section of the judicial comedy Measure for Measure, dating from 1604, when Pompey disrupts the law court with a Pinteresque monologue relating how the pregnant Mistress Elbow had an insatiable craving to consume stewed prunes:

Sir, she came in great with child, and longing – saving your honour’s reverence – for stewed prunes. Sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit dish – a dish of some three-pence, your honours have seen such dishes; they are not china dishes, but very good dishes. [Measure for Measure, 2, 1, 82-86]

  • 39 Ibid., p. 60, 63 and 73-74.

14Sex, fruit, porcelain, and a cheap imitation form a chain of signifiers, in this Lacanian tale of displaced ‘longing,’ that not only recapitulates the play’s theme of substitution, but enacts the endlessly extended network and deferred gratification of all over-horizon global commerce. No wonder the magistrate Angelo likens its stretched-out duration to ‘a night in Russia, / When nights are longest there’ [ibid., 2, 1, 122-123]. China only began arriving in Amsterdam around 1600, and its cobalt blue and lustrous white colouring, with glassy transparent glaze created at a temperature of 1300 degrees Celsius, immediately made this exorbitantly expensive tableware a prime object of consumer desire. ‘The first Chinese porcelain to reach Europe amazed all who saw or handled it. Europeans could think only of crystal when pressed to describe the stuff,’ and so seductive was its sensuous appeal that it instantly became ‘synonymous with China itself.’ Brook sees china, therefore, as a quintessential symbol of Shakespeare’s age of transculturation, since it was, in fact, first manufactured as an intercultural crossover by Chinese ceramicists aiming to meet Persian aesthetic and Islamic religious demands. Soon ‘everyone tried – and failed – to imitate the look and feel’ of this de luxe item, and the ‘bazaars were cluttered with second-rate imitations.’ A decade later, however, the sinologist explains, the delayed pay-off of Pompey’s shaggy-dog-story about frustrated satisfaction would not have been so excruciating, for by then Chinese porcelain was pouring into Europe, and as its price plunged, so its transcendental place in the mimetic logic of the fashion system was superseded by carnations, and then, maniacally, by tulips.39 By the time Wycherley wrote The Country Wife for Restoration London in 1675, ‘china’ had ceased to signify the exquisitely unobtainable, and had become rakish slang for quick sex. But Shakespeare was writing at precisely the relativizing moment of measure in the march of globalization, when it remained possible to know the value of everything, yet still to count the cost.

  • 40 Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, New York, Norton, 1998, p. 1.

15‘Go to, go to, no matter for the dish,’ Judge Escalus interjects, during the testimony about Mistress Elbow’s prunes. But though Pompey concedes its triviality – ‘No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right’ [Measure for Measure, 2, 1, 88] – in Vermeer’s Hat we come to appreciate how the missing china dish might matter a great deal at the Globe theatre, as its objet petit a, the unattainable focus of a globalized desire. In 1604 Measure for Measure was so relevant to the kind of society that was incubating the catastrophic tulip mania, because its entire action concerns absence, displacement, and the ‘thirsty evil’ of consuming ‘Like rats that ravin down their proper bane’ [ibid., 1, 2, 109-110]. But if Shakespeare’s plays are packed with such allusions to the mimetic desire for fashionable labels and imported luxuries, they are there not as markers of colonial exploitation, or trophies of imperial conquest, of what it is ‘to be a king / And ride in triumph through Persepolis’ [Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1, 2, 5, 53-54], but as signifiers of the price we pay, and the constraints we confront, with our hunger for universality. Jardine sees ‘the seeds of our own exuberant multiculturalism and bravura consumerism’ in the Renaissance passion for ‘worldly goods.’40 Yet how to measure the value, and count the cost, of that absent but so desirable china dish, or why indeed it matters to the likes of Mistress Elbow and Master Froth, is, in a sense, a question that runs throughout these plays.

  • 41 T. Brook, op. cit., p. 61 and 78.
  • 42 Montaigne, ‘On Coaches’, ed. cit., p. 1028-1029.

16‘They are not china dishes, but very good dishes’: Pompey sounds ‘a tedious fool’ [Measure for Measure, 2, 1, 70-120] apologizing for the crockery supplied at Mistress Overdone’s ‘naughty house,’ ‘the Bunch of Grapes,’ where Master Froth delights to sit ‘in a lower chair,’ cracking ‘the stones of the foresaid prunes,’ because ‘it is an open room, and good for winter.’ But this banal domestic scene has the suggestiveness of a genre painting of a Dutch interior. As Brook infers, ‘Mistress Overdone did well enough as a procuress to be able to afford good dishes, but not Chinese porcelain.’ So the type of vessel with which she served clients would have been faïence, pottery fired at 900 degrees, but coated with a tin oxide, a technique the Italians of Faenza learned from the Persians, ‘who developed it to make cheap import substitutes that could compete with Chinese wares.’ During Shakespeare’s lifetime the most convincing of such copies were mass-produced by Dutch tile-makers in Delft, and Delftware soon became ‘the affordable substitute for ordinary people who wanted Chinese porcelain but could not dream of acquiring’ the genuine article. Delftware has the deceptive appearance of porcelain, but lacks its thinness and translucence, and it is fatally liable to chip, which exposes the crude earthenware beneath the glaze of tin.41 So, as symbols of the false promise of the fake, in a story about a viceroy whose flaws are revealed after ‘some more test’ is made of his ‘metal’ [Measure for Measure, 1, 1, 48], Delftware dishes could hardly be more apt. But Pompey’s admission that ‘they are not china dishes’ betrays deeper anxiety, and the embarrassment that even the ‘very good’ that Europe produces is no more than second-rate. This was a comparativist awareness shared by Montaigne: ‘When our artillery and printing were invented we clamoured about miracles: yet at the other end of the world in China men had been enjoying them for a thousand years.’42 Thus, with the shock of planetization, and in place of its ethnocentrism, Europe was ‘acquiring a new, humbler, perspective on itself and its place in the world,’ the historian William Bouwsma records in his book The Waning of the Renaissance:

  • 43 William Bouwsma, The Waning of the Renaissance, 1550-1640, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000, (...)

The whole earth could now be represented by a globe that could be held in one’s hands. So a young man, on receiving the gift of a globe from his father, remarked: ‘Before seeing it, I had not realized how small the world is’. Another blow to the self-image of Europe was implicit in the eschatological hopes of religious groups who looked forward to the onset of a new age […]. Dissatisfaction with European ways was one source of favourable accounts of exotic cultures. Montaigne thought China ‘a kingdom whose government and arts, without dealings with any knowledge of ours,’ surpassed Europe in many ways. The Japanese were already being praised for their politeness, and for the intellectual quickness of their children. The non-European world was becoming a mirror in which to examine the blemishes of Europe.43

  • 44 ‘gentle, loving, and faithful’: quoted by W. Bouwsma, op. cit., p. 73.
  • 45 T. S. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1959, (...)
  • 46 See Daniel Viktus, Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, New York, Pal (...)

17‘If in Naples / I should report this now, would they believe me – / If I should say I saw such islanders?’ exclaims Gonzalo in The Tempest of the ‘people of the island’, whose manners, he has discovered, ‘are more gentle-kind than of / Our human generation you shall find / Many, nay, almost any’ [The Tempest, 3, 3, 28-34]. Editors connect his surprise with reports of English explorers that North American natives were ‘gentle, loving, and faithful, void of all guile and treason, after the manner of the Golden Age’; and though the old lord is responding to a banquet laid on by Prospero’s spirits, the inferiority complex he voices drives a story in which the shipwrecked voyagers are dressed in garments they received in Africa, ‘at the marriage of the King’s fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis’ [ibid., 2, 1, 69].44 Along with almonds, sugar, and ‘great masses of gold,’ silk was in fact the main import into early modern England from North Africa; and if English writers scorned such fabrics as ‘the materializations of oriental luxury and vice,’ they longed to produce these textiles themselves.45 So an edgy mix of indebtedness and insecurity recurs whenever Shakespeare introduces a character into an alien environment and the guest realises what ‘a goodly city’ his host inhabits [Coriolanus, 4, 4, 1]; from the instant in The Comedy of Errors when Antipholus of Syracuse goes to ‘view the city’ [The Comedy of Errors, 1, 2, 31], and the misguided hospitality of the Ephesians means ‘There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if were their well-acquainted friend […]. Some tender money to me, some invite me, / Some other give me thanks for kindnesses’ [ibid., 4, 3, 1-5]. One of a genre of plays set in the Ottoman Mediterranean that stage the temptation to go native, or ‘turn Turk,’ this comedy pushes the formula to its limit, by making the strangers the tourists’ long-lost twins.46 The fantasy parallels tall tales that American Indians spoke Welsh, and has its roots in fables of the gold of Eldorado or treasures of Prester John, the legendary African king, but its libidinous drive will propel some of Shakespeare’s most beguiling scenes:

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman
Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes.
Feed him with apricots and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steak from the humble-bees,
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glow-worms’ eyes
To have my love to bed and to arise […] [A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3, 1, 146-153]

  • 47 Robert Batchelor, London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689, Chicago, Unive (...)
  • 48 Philip Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984, (...)
  • 49 P. Stallybrass, op. cit., p. 31.

18‘Bottom’s dream’ [ibid., 4, 1, 208] doubtless reflects the wishful-thinking of an Elizabethan audience in its longing to be ‘translated’ [ibid., 3, 1, 105]; and the fantasy does seem to confirm the precocious sense of autonomy Londoners were developing through their trading relations with Asia, as discussed by Robert Batchelor in his study of John Selden’s map of China.47 What it does not assume is Anglo-centric cultural superiority; any more than the Italianate ‘flatt’ring dream’ devised by the Lord in The Taming of the Shrew for the Warwickshire tinker Sly: ‘Carry him gently to my fairest chamber, / And hang it round with all my wanton pictures, / Balm his foul head in warm distilled waters, / And burn sweet wood to make the lodging sweet’ [The Taming of the Shrew, Induction, 1, 40-45]. Instead, Shakespeare’s plays seem to be agitated enough by the ‘Report of fashion in proud Italy / Whose manners still our tardy-apish nation / Limps after in base imitation’ [Richard II, 2, 1, 21-23], to highlight over and again England’s second-hand, copycat operations, as a latecomer on the frontier of Renaissance civilization. In 1600 ‘The European Age’ had not dawned, and ‘the Indian economy was more productive than that of Europe.’48 But it is difficult for us to grasp how peripheral England was even within Europe, when the country was a margin on the margin, in Peter Stallybrass’s phrase, ‘only just beginning to emerge from its status as the hinterland of Antwerp.’49 In his cameo textual appearances, however, Shakespeare always introduced himself as a cultural or geographical outsider, belated and outwitted like the Warwickshire yokel William. And what his relativizing marginality gave him was that ‘view from afar’ that Claude Levi-Strauss would describe as the pre-condition of the anthropology he traced only back to Rousseau, a space of observation that permits appreciation of cultural difference, the global understanding of ‘the curiosity of nations’ [King Lear, 1, 2, 4]:

Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus
Home-keeping youth hath ever homely wits.
Were’t not affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honoured love,
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad
Than, living dully sluggardized at home,
Wear out thy youth in shapeless idleness. [Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1, 1, 1-8]

  • 50 Barbara Benedict, Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry, Chicago, University of Chi (...)
  • 51 Lars Engle, ‘Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Anti-Ethnocentrism’, paper presented to the British Studie (...)
  • 52 ‘Virulent criticism’: Sara Warneke, Images of the Educational Traveller in Early Modern England, Le (...)

19In her cultural history of curiosity Barbara Benedict keys the early modern European suspicion of travel to concern about the confessional relativism to which curiosity would lead, fears that were absorbed even by Montaigne, who came to deplore curiosity as an evil linked to the pride that ‘makes us stick our noses into everything,’ because curiosity will not leave well alone: ‘Montaigne’s objection to curiosity expresses the period’s anxiety about its power to swallow [religious] wonder and promote free thought.’50 Curiosity kills the cat that plays with me too curiously, seems to be the moral of this most curious of thinkers, who thereby emerges as less worldly than Shakespeare. For from the start of his career, the dramatist’s worldliness approximated to the ‘anti-ethnocentrism’ Lars Engle has described as the conceptual disorientation that comes from ‘the imperative to avoid privileging one’s own way of life.’51 At a time when English satirists like Thomas Nashe were subjecting travellers to ‘virulent criticism’ in works like The Unfortunate Traveller; and worrying about foreign travel precisely because they dreaded ‘the commensurability of human beings, and therefore the capacity of the English to become like those they observed,’ Shakespeare seems instead to have shared Francis Bacon’s culturalist philosophy, that ‘Travel in the younger sort, is a part of education, and in the elder, a part of experience.’52

  • 53 Montaigne, ‘On a monster-child’, ed. cit., p. 808.

20For a thinker whose fascination with religious multiplicity and cultural difference is often taken to be the foundation of ethnography, Montaigne was surprisingly critical of the curious. The emotional pull of Catholic universalism overrode his intellectual contextualism. In Shakespeare, too, the word ‘curiosity’ is nearly always negative, and means pickiness, as when Timon is ‘mocked for too much curiosity’ in dress [Timon of Athens, 4, 3, 302]; ‘curiosity in neither can make choice of either’ of Lear’s heirs [King Lear, 1, 1, 5]; or the dotard king blames his ‘jealous curiosity’ for his suspicions [ibid., 1, 4, 59]. Likewise, ‘curious’ denotes affected, like the ‘curious tale’ the macho Kent delights to ‘mar in telling’ [ibid., 1, 4, 29]. Curiouser and curiouser, however, when Edmund declares he will permit neither custom nor ‘The curiosity of nations’ about his bastardy to stand in his way, because Nature is his ‘goddess’ [ibid., 1, 2, 1-4], he is paraphrasing Montaigne, who in his essay ‘On a monster child’ considered that whatever is ‘against custom we say is against Nature,’ yet nothing in Nature is unnatural.53 So it is the monster of this play who would sweep ‘curiosity’ away. In King Lear, where Shakespeare out-Montaignes Montaigne, ‘curiosity,’ the relativizing capacity to make global comparisons and cultural distinctions, is thereby reinstated as a name for what we call anthropology. Thus, ‘I do not like the fashion of your garments,’ the old king snaps, ‘You will say they are Persian, but let them be changed’ [King Lear, 3, 6, 73-74]. For cross-cultural comparisons are never here to the advantage of the English imitator:

Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here’s three on’s are sophisticated! Thou are the thing itself; unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. [King Lear, 3, 4, 94-99]

  • 54 P. Sloterdijk, op. cit., p. 317.
  • 55 Justus Lipsius, Two Books of Constancy, trans. Sir John Stradling (London, 1594), ed. Rudolf Kirk, (...)
  • 56 Montaigne, ‘On Coaches’, ed. cit, p. 1028-1029.
  • 57 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, ‘Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy, Exposition of Its Differe (...)

21‘’Twere to consider too curiously to consider so,’ Horatio objects, when Hamlet compares the remains of the highest achievers in ‘our house,’ Alexander and ‘imperial Caesar,’ to Yorick’s skull [Hamlet, 5, 1, 190-196]. The Christian prohibition of curiositas was motivated precisely by the aversion to seeing the great undifferentiation of death.54 But the curious Prince, who is anthropologist enough to know when a custom is ‘more honoured in the breach than the observance’ [ibid., 1, 4, 18], and ‘could be bounded in a nutshell,’ yet count himself ‘a king of infinite space,’ has had the ‘bad dream’ of thinking ‘this goodly frame the earth’ nothing but ‘a sterile promontory,’ and man, ‘the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals […] this quintessence of dust‘ [ibid., 2, 2, 248-249; 290-298]. The historian Bouwsma again: ‘Curiosity, both cause and consequence of the discoveries and previously considered dangerous to the soul,’ set off Spenglerian speculation about the decline of the West, with thinkers like Ortelius’s friend Justus Lipsius meditating that ‘Once the East flourished: Assyria, Egypt, and Jewry excelled in war and peace. That glory was transferred into Europe, which now (like a diseased body) seemeth to be shaken […]. And now behold there ariseth elsewhere new people and a new world.’55 Montaigne’s scepticism was similarly sharpened by the sense that America was ‘emerging into light just when ours is leaving it.’56 For as Hegel understood, the first age of globalization was for Europe its twilight hour, when ‘The increasing range of acquaintance with alien peoples under the pressure of necessity, as, for example, becoming acquainted with a new continent, had this sceptical effect upon the common sense of Europeans down to that time.’57

  • 58 Jean-Luc Nancy, The Creation of the World or Globalization, trans. François Raffoul and David Petti (...)
  • 59 Alain Badiou, L’Être et l’événement, Paris, Seuil, 1988, quoted in Kenneth Reinhard, ‘Toward a Poli (...)
  • 60 Ben Jonson, quoted in E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols., Oxford, Oxford University Pre (...)

22‘What is a world? Or what does a “world” mean,’ asks Jean-Luc Nancy in his globalization polemic, The Creation of the World; and answers: ‘I would say, a world is a totality of meaning. This amounts to saying that a worldview is indeed the end of the world as viewed, as digested, absorbed […] And this is why Heidegger in 1938, turning against Nazism, exposed the end of the age of the Weltbilder, of images or pictures of the world.’ To create an interdependent worldliness, mondialisation as opposed to globalization, involves thinking a world without mastery, Nancy proposes: a thinking he identifies with the work of art, which is ‘a work opening beyond any meaning that is either given or to be given.’58 Likewise, for Alain Badiou ‘love is the decision to create a new logic of the world, a new neighbourhood.’59 And Shakespeare, whose wordplay on ‘this solid globe’ [Troilus, 1, 3, 113] suggests he was alive to the potential of ‘this under globe’ [Lear, 2, 2, 155], the scene of his own artwork, to become ‘this world’s globe’ [2Henry VI, 3, 2, 406], and was confident his own worlding would ‘the globe compass’ as part of a planetary revolution, shared his audiences’ fears about ‘th’affrighted globe’ [Othello, 5, 2, 109], ‘this distracted globe’ [1, 5, 97], this sullied globe of undifferentiating globalization, enough to be conscious of the negativities of a ‘globe of sinful continents’ [2Henry IV, 2, 4, 258]. Thus, ‘See the World’s ruins’, gloated Ben Jonson, when ‘the glory of the Bank’ burned down.60 For Shakespeare’s ‘brave new world’ [Tempest, 5, 1, 186] turned out to be peopled with lechers, murderers, rogues and fools. Yet his final and surprisingly ‘cheerful’ [Tempest, 4, 1, 147] word on the name of the house, and on the entire metropolitan panorama of palaces and playhouses in which his works had been staged, was his most rounded, yet truly worldly, ‘view from afar’:

Be not dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Melted into air, into thin air,
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. [The Tempest, 4, 1, 148-156]

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Notes

1 As You Like It, 2, 7, 136, in The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean Howard and Katharine Eisaman Maus, Norton, New York, 2007. All subsequent quotations from Shakespeare are from this edition (with references given directly in the text).

2 Peter Davidson, ‘The Iconography of the Globe’, in J. R. Mulryne and Margaret Shewring (ed.), Shakespeare’s Globe Rebuilt, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 148-149.

3 ‘Round earth’s imagined corners’: John Donne, ‘Holy Sonnet 7’, in The Complete English Poems of John Donne, ed. C. A. Patrides, London, Dent, 1985, p. 438.

4 ‘The idea that the events’: Paul Binding, Imagined Corners: Exploring the World’s First Atlas, London, Review, 2003, p. 204 and 206.

5 Frances Yates, Theatre of the World, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969, p. 189; ‘dialogically related’: John Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, p. 70.

6 Juegen Schulz, ‘Maps as Metaphors: Mural Map Cycles of the Italian Renaissance’, in David Woodward (ed.), Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1987, p. 97-122, here p. 112.

7 Anne Barton, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play, London, Chatto & Windus, 1962, p. 61.

8 J. Gillies, op. cit., p. 90-91.

9 See, for instance, the Epilogue, ‘The World Stage’, in Paul A. Kottman, A Politics of the Scene, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2008, p. 185-214.

10 P. Binding, op. cit., p. 100.

11 Marshal McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Toronto, Toronto University Press, p. 11.

12 John Hale, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance, London, Harper Collins, 1993, p. 20.

13 Neil MacGregor, Shakespeare’s Restless World, London, Allen Lane, 2012, p. 5-6. For an authoritative review, see Jean Wilson, ‘Forks and shoes’, Times Literary Supplement, February 2013, p. 13, where the best-selling book is described as ‘charming,’ but ‘an airy nothing,’ that is ‘old-fashioned’ in its theatre history and ‘confused’ about religion, ‘inaccurate in both picture captions and text,’ and the product of ‘sloppy research and insufficient editorial control.’

14 Francis Barker, The Culture of Violence: Tragedy and History, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1993, p. 1.

15 ‘Caught up in the new Protestant future’, N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 28.

16 Ibid., p. 10 and 285-286, quoting Jonathan Bate.

17 Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, Part One, 4, 4, 84, in The Complete Plays of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Frank Romany and Robert Lindsey, London, Penguin, 2003, p. 134.

18 Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning From More to Shakespeare, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1980, p. 195.

19 N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 286.

20 Tamburlaine the Great, Part Two, 5, 3, 145-150, in C. Marlowe, op. cit., p. 236-237.

21 J. Hale, op. cit., p. 20.

22 Robert Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, New York, Random House, 2012, p. 28.

23 Peter Sloterdijk, Globes: Spheres II: Macrospherology, trans. Wieland Hoban, South Pasadena CA, Semiotexte, 2014, p. 559.

24 Francesco Bethencourt, Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2014.

25 Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2000, p. 56-57 and 61-62; Edward Said, Orientalism, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978.

26 P. Sloterdijk, op. cit., p. 57.

27 Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce, trans. Sian Reynolds, London, Collins, 1982, p. 199.

28 Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffics and Discoveries of the English Nation, ed. John Masefield, 10 vols., London, Dent, 1927, vol. 6, p. 242-244.

29 Harry Levin, ‘Introduction’, in William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, New York, Signet, 1962, p. xxxii.

30 Patricia Fumerton, Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991, p. 173.

31 N. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 6 and 10.

32 Michel de Montaigne, ‘Of Cannibals’, in The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne, trans. M. A. Screech, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1991, p. 236.

33 Richard Marienstras, New Perspectives on the Shakespearean World, trans. Janet Lloyd, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 6.

34 Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, p. 26-33.

35 J. Gillies, op. cit., p. 100-106.

36 Julia Lupton, Thinking With Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2011, p. 165.

37 See Walter Cohen, ‘The Undiscovered Country: Shakespeare and Mercantile Geography’, in Jean Howard and Scott Shershow (eds), Marxist Shakespeares, London, Routledge, 2001, p. 133-135.

38 Timothy Brook, Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World, London, Profile, 2008, p. 21.

39 Ibid., p. 60, 63 and 73-74.

40 Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, New York, Norton, 1998, p. 1.

41 T. Brook, op. cit., p. 61 and 78.

42 Montaigne, ‘On Coaches’, ed. cit., p. 1028-1029.

43 William Bouwsma, The Waning of the Renaissance, 1550-1640, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000, p. 70 and 72-73, quoting Montaigne, ‘On Experience’, op. cit., p. 1215.

44 ‘gentle, loving, and faithful’: quoted by W. Bouwsma, op. cit., p. 73.

45 T. S. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1959, p. 120-121 and 266-267; Peter Stallybrass, ‘Marginal England: The View from Aleppo’, in Lena Cowen Orlin (ed.), Center and Margin: Revisions of the English Renaissance in Honor of Leeds Barroll, , Cranbury, NJ., Associated University Press, 2006, p. 27-39, p. 31.

46 See Daniel Viktus, Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, New York, Palgrave, 2003, p. 39; Goran Stanivukovic (ed.), Remapping the Mediterranean World in Early Modern English Writings, New York, Palgrave, 2007, p. 10.

47 Robert Batchelor, London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2014.

48 Philip Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984, p. 149.

49 P. Stallybrass, op. cit., p. 31.

50 Barbara Benedict, Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001, p. 32; Montaigne, ‘An Apology for Raymond Sebond’ and ‘That it is madness to judge the true and the false from our own capacities’, ed. cit., p. 204 and 555.

51 Lars Engle, ‘Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Anti-Ethnocentrism’, paper presented to the British Studies Seminar of the Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas, cited in Richard F. Hardin, ‘Marlowe Thinking Globally’, in Sarah K. Scott and M. L. Stapleton, Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman: Lives, Stage, and Page, Farnham, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 23-32, here p. 28.

52 ‘Virulent criticism’: Sara Warneke, Images of the Educational Traveller in Early Modern England, Leiden, Brill, 1995, p. 7; ‘the commensurability of human beings’: Daniel Vitkus, Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 9; Francis Bacon, ‘Of Travel’, in Essays, ed. Michael Hawkins, London, Dent, 1972, p. 54.

53 Montaigne, ‘On a monster-child’, ed. cit., p. 808.

54 P. Sloterdijk, op. cit., p. 317.

55 Justus Lipsius, Two Books of Constancy, trans. Sir John Stradling (London, 1594), ed. Rudolf Kirk, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1939, p. 110; W. Bouwsma, op. cit., p. 69 and 73.

56 Montaigne, ‘On Coaches’, ed. cit, p. 1028-1029.

57 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, ‘Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy, Exposition of Its Different Modifications and Comparison to the Latest Form with the Ancient One’, in Between Kant and Hegel: Texts in the Development of Post-Kantian Idealism, ed. and trans. George di Giovanni and H. S. Harris, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1985, p. 333.

58 Jean-Luc Nancy, The Creation of the World or Globalization, trans. François Raffoul and David Pettigrew, New York, State University of New York Press, 2007, p. 41 and 54.

59 Alain Badiou, L’Être et l’événement, Paris, Seuil, 1988, quoted in Kenneth Reinhard, ‘Toward a Political Theology of the Neighbour’, in Slavoj Žižek, Kenneth Reinhard and Eric Santner (eds), The Neighbour: Three Inquiries in Political Theology, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 2013, p. 67.

60 Ben Jonson, quoted in E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1923, vol. 2, p. 422.

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Richard Wilson, « The Curiosity of Nations: Shakespeare Thinks of the World », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 27 | 2015, mis en ligne le 28 mai 2015, consulté le 23 octobre 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/600 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.600

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Richard Wilson

Kingston University, London

Richard Wilson is Anniversary Chair and Sir Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kingston University (London). His publications include Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (1992), Will Power: Essays on Shakespearean Authority (1993), Secret Shakespeare: Studies in Theatre, Religion and Resistance (2004) and Shakespeare in French Theory: King of Shadows (2006). Influenced by French and German contemporary thought, Wilson reads Shakespearean drama in terms of its undecidability. It is this fundamental undecidability that led him to his famous proposition, in Secret Shakespeare, that Shakespeare’s is a theatre of ‘resistance to the resistance.’ Ultimately, what this theatre of shadows stages is ‘the instability of the opposition between authorized and unauthorized violence’ and ‘the recognition of the reversibility of monsters and martyrs, terrorists and torturers, or artists and assassins.’ Thus in Shakespeare and French Theory he argues that while for Anglo-Saxon culture Shakespeare is a man of the monarchy, in France he has always been the man of the mob. He is also known for research on Shakespeare’s Catholic background and possible Lancashire connections. He argued that ‘though Shakespeare was born into a Catholic world, he reacted against it,’ but that his plays all start from the ‘Bloody Question’ of a test of love or loyalty. Richard Wilson has published numerous articles in academic journals, and is on the editorial board of the journal Shakespeare.

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