A Widow's Will: Adapting the Duchess of Amalfi in Early Modern England and Spain

A Widow's Will: Adapting the Duchess of Amalfi in Early Modern England and Spain <p>Abstract:</p><p>Clandestine marriage—the medieval institution of Christian marriage undertaken outside the recognition of legal authorities—was increasingly the object of anxiety and renegotiation in the early modern world. Its illicitness undermined marriage as a managed exogamy, posing a threat not only to social controls but also to familial expectations and honor. This threat provides the central tension of the story of the Duchess of Amalfi, a tale—about a noble widow who secretly weds her steward to avoid public censure—that was adapted across early modern Europe. Focusing on analogous Spanish and English dramatic retellings of this story by Lope de Vega (1562–1635) and John Webster (ca. 1580–ca. 1634), respectively, this essay explores the tale&apos;s transnational participation in prevalent sixteenth-and seventeenth-century debates about the dangers of clandestine marriage embodied by the threatening figure of the widow. By showing that many apparent differences between adaptations of this tale can be explained with reference to their distinct, but related, concerns with clandestine marriage, this article demonstrates the centrality of legal questions to transnational literary adaptation.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

A Widow&apos;s Will: Adapting the Duchess of Amalfi in Early Modern England and Spain

Studies in Philology, Volume 116 (4) – Sep 30, 2019

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Studies in Philology, Incorporated
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>Clandestine marriage—the medieval institution of Christian marriage undertaken outside the recognition of legal authorities—was increasingly the object of anxiety and renegotiation in the early modern world. Its illicitness undermined marriage as a managed exogamy, posing a threat not only to social controls but also to familial expectations and honor. This threat provides the central tension of the story of the Duchess of Amalfi, a tale—about a noble widow who secretly weds her steward to avoid public censure—that was adapted across early modern Europe. Focusing on analogous Spanish and English dramatic retellings of this story by Lope de Vega (1562–1635) and John Webster (ca. 1580–ca. 1634), respectively, this essay explores the tale&apos;s transnational participation in prevalent sixteenth-and seventeenth-century debates about the dangers of clandestine marriage embodied by the threatening figure of the widow. By showing that many apparent differences between adaptations of this tale can be explained with reference to their distinct, but related, concerns with clandestine marriage, this article demonstrates the centrality of legal questions to transnational literary adaptation.</p>

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Sep 30, 2019

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