Journal Article

‘Nothing that is so is so’: <i>Twelfth Night</i> and Transubstantiation

Paul Dean

in Literature and Theology

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 281-297
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/17.3.281
‘Nothing that is so is so’: Twelfth Night and Transubstantiation

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This article proposes that important aspects of Twelfth Night are illuminated by knowledge of Reformation eucharistic controversies, specifically over transubstantiation. Precedent is supplied by the anonymous Jack Juggler (printed c. 1562). Some puzzling passages in the play, especially the speeches of Feste, are elucidated by reference to Lollard writings and controversial exchanges between Thomas Cranmer and Stephen Gardiner. The play’s conjunction of an incarnational philosophy with a self-conscious awareness of drama as an art of the body is set against the broader background of medieval dramatic representations of the Mass, and of contemporary writing on the body.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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