Phillip John Usher. Epic Arts in Renaissance France. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0-19-968784-8. xii+254pp. £60.00 (hb).
This richly documented investigation into Renaissance France’s ‘intense relationship between epic and art’ (205) engages epic texts in a dialogue with their visual sister arts: programmes are considered, such as the Fontainebleau gallery which glorified François Ier and epic texts such as Dolet’s Fata, which refashion classical epic material. Ronsard’s Franciade was ‘part of both a national and a royal project and in constant dialogue with other arts’ (159), inspiring a series of paintings by Dubreuil for Henri IV. This dialogue implies rapprochements, ‘textualisations’ but also differing perspectives, within the French arts but also between French and other European artists and poets. The author recreates visual ambiences, and documents how they would have appeared to sixteenth-century viewers, so as to help his readers glimpse ‘the inside spaces as they would have been visible’ (175) then and understand how this epic art would have been read.
Colin Burrow. Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-968479-3. 296p. £16.99.
Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity shows the range, extent and variety of Shakespeare's responses to classical antiquity. Individual chapters on Virgil, Ovid, Classical Comedy, Seneca, and Plutarch show how Shakespeare's understanding of and use of classical authors, and of the classical past more generally, changed and developed in the course of his career. Read a review on this website.