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Hamlet’s MomentDrama and Political Knowledge in Early Modern England$
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András Kiséry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746201.001.0001

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‘For Discourse’s Sake Merely’

‘For Discourse’s Sake Merely’

Political Conversation on the Stage and Off (p.243)

6 ‘For Discourse’s Sake Merely’
Hamlet’s Moment

András Kiséry

Oxford University Press

In this early seventeenth-century moment, the stage transformed politic wit into a conversational asset, the currency of social self-advancement. Like Hamlet, John Marston’s The Malcontent, Chapman’s Monsieur d’Olive, and Jonson’s Volpone also participate in the moment that transformed the stage into a medium of cultural and social criticism, and plays into models for social and conversational competence. These satiric plays link political knowledge to agonistic and self-interested models of conviviality and conversation, policing the porous boundary between professional knowledge and conversational competence. Plays did not just reflect on lay uses of professional knowledge: they also provided readers with conversational ammunition. Edward Pudsey’s notebook shows a reader mining plays for apt turns of phrase and sharp repartee extending the same reading techniques to politic authors, copying novel expressions and witty formulations from Machiavelli and Tacitus, aiming to cultivate a style of conversation modelled on them.

Keywords:   John Marston, The Malcontent, George Chapman, Monsieur d’Olive, war of the theatres, Edward Pudsey, commonplace book, conversation, sociability, politic style

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