Our speaker writes:
“Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent Lamb should be made Parchment; that Parchment being scribeld ore, should undoe a man”. These words uttered by Jack Cade in the Second Part of Henry the Sixth (quoted from Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio) are the starting point of this seminar, prepared with the assistance of John Pollack. My analysis will be devoted to the discursive genealogy and the possible reception by spectators and readers of several of Cade’s lines: “Burne all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the Parliament of England” ; “Our Fore-fathers had no other Bookes but the Score and the Tally” ; “And Adam was a Gardiner”. By focusing on Cade’s political language and its biblical quotations, legal traditions, and historical references, by investigating the presence of numerous objects of written culture within the play itself, this analysis will try to illuminate the enigmatic, paradoxical, unstable dramatic representation of Cade’s rebellion in Henry the Sixth. The playwright (Shakespeare? Marlowe? Peele, or Greene?) intertwined languages, telescoped times, and attributed to a manipulated and derisory character the actual tropes of medieval egalitarian revolts. It is in such ambiguities that are rooted the many disagreements about the interpretation of Cade’s scenes and the diverse possibilities for staging them.
About our speaker:
Roger Chartier is Emeritus Professor at the Collège de France and Annenberg Visiting Professor in History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a (quite) annual speaker in the Material Text Seminar. In 2021, he published Éditer et traduire. Mobilité et matérialité des textes (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles) (Hautes Études, Gallimard et Seuil). He has two books forthcoming this Spring: Won in Translation: Textual Mobility in Early Modern Europe, translated by John Pollack (University of Pennsylvania Press), and Cartes et fictions XVIe-XVIIIe siècles (Editions du Collège de France).