The Towneley cycle: unity and diversity,
Cardiff, Wales, University of Wales Press, 304pp.
(Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages Series).
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The Towneley Cycle cannot be overlooked in any study of medieval drama. Undergraduate and graduate courses which focus on medieval literature usually include a strand on medieval drama, and the Second Shepherd’s Play usually features prominently. This book therefore is likely to be recommended to students on such courses as a secondary text, and will be bought by most good University libraries.
This volume provides a detailed overview of and critical introduction to the Towneley cycle of plays, a 32-play cycle written in c.1500, which begins with the fall of Lucifer and ends with the Last Judgment, and was performed as part of the festival of Corpus Christi in Wakefield. Peter Happé examines the cycle's textual and manuscript history, and discusses issues of language and style, the structure of the cycle, and its possible sources and analogues. In the second half of the book, he addresses the historical and religious context of the cycle and evidence of its performance history, and offers an analysis of the work of the Wakefield Master.
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