For a while now, it’s been a vague ambition of mine to catalogue, mind map, or in some other way classify Shakespeare’s comedy, both in the comedic plays and elsewhere.In doing so I AM mindful (for those who know their SF) of the Asimov short, ‘Jokester’, where finally getting an answer as to why humans laugh results in humour dying forever …
Still, I’m always and increasingly drawing intertextual links between and beyond Shakespeare’s plays, and this is what strikes me about what Arden calls the ‘Induction’ – the Christopher Sly frame.It’s a cousin, maybe an ancestor, of the Rabelaisean idea of ‘Carnival’ that appears later on in:
‘death, a necessary end, will come when it will come’ (JULIUS CAESAR: Act II, sc ii)
subtitled:‘The not very tragic or lamentable death of the serial rotter, Suffolk, and the deservedly doomed distraction caused by Cade.’
It’s not quite acts three or four of Antony and Cleopatra, but this act does get into double-figures in terms of scenes – something I find irritating as a reader, in a way that I don’t find when listening to or watching the plays. Still, basically, Act IV boils down into two episodes, as the subtitle suggests.