Deceiving Appearances: Neo Chaucerian Magic in The Tempest

  • Richard Hillman


Many readers must have been struck in passing, as I once was and a Renaissance reader/auditor may plausibly have been, by the resemblance between the line in The Franklin’s Tale, ‘And farewel! Al oure revel was ago’ (1204), and Prospero’s ‘Our revels now are ended’ (Tmp., IV.i.148). The parallel is not only verbal but contextual. The magician in the Tale has just dispelled, with the traditional clap of the hands,1 the visions with which he has been regaling the love-smitten Aurelius and his brother; Prospero has abruptly curtailed the masque of Ceres, staged as a ‘vanity of mine art’ (IV.i.41) for the lovers Ferdinand and Miranda. Yet what little critical interest has been apparent has stalled at the barrier of intentionality — do we have an ‘allusion’ or not?2 — without even attempting the next step: if so, so what? In any case, Jenny’s account, as discussed in Chapter 1, of the effect of an intertextual ‘référence’ (Riffaterre’s ‘ungrammaticality’) would suggest that to be struck in passing implies a commitment to linearity — that is, keeping to the narrative straight-and-narrow, rather than veering off to ‘retourner vers le texte-origine’ (Jenny 266). Now the concept of such a choice may be, as Jenny maintains, a mere analytical fiction, an artificial means of visualizing the complex processes of intertextual response — given, I would add, a suitably ‘coordinated’ hypothetical reader/auditor — but the analyst can begin to explore those processes, to take both roads, only when such an anomaly in the textual landscape is recognised, not as a wayside curiosity, but as a detour sign.


Critical Interest Canterbury Tale Courtly Love Artificial Means Inter Text 
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Copyright information

© Richard Hillman 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Hillman
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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