Simon Forman was a 16th century English astrologer and physician (sans formal medical training and most of the time,...

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SEX AND SOCIETY IN SHAKESPEARE'S AGE: Simon Forman the Astrologer

Simon Forman was a 16th century English astrologer and physician (sans formal medical training and most of the time, license) who read stars, cast ""figures"" (horoscopes), prescribed and dispensed herbs and simples, and also wrote autobiographical puffery, notes on his craft, and a diary. The scholar Halliwell-Phillipps transcribed the material in the mid-19th century and it was published ""privately."" Now Elizabethan enthusiast Rowse, with his court-and-back-fence knowledge of the times, has not only resurrected and annotated Forman's raggedy oeuvre, but has unearthed some fascinating gossip and controversial revelations. Again Rowse champions Emilia Lanier, daughter of an Italian musician, as the bard's Dark Lady; and of considerable interest is his selection of the lady's prose and verse, which includes a few atypical (for the age) ""feminist"" fusillades. Although the title promises some happy bawdry (Forman's code word for intercourse is ""halek"")the doctor does his haleking in Latin. Academics will probably resent Rowse's rather slapdash prose and some hurried conclusions, but then he has always been a favorite target of the more meticulous and conservative historians. In spite of his gallivanting style and speculation, this makes some important contributions to Elizabethan studies and incidentally, for the patient amateur, is rather fun.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974