Synopses & Reviews
Francis Bacon described revenge as a ‘kind of wild justice. Then as now, early modern playwrights and their theatre-going public were fascinated by the anarchic energies that a desire for retribution unleashes. Rather than rehearsing familiar conventions, each of these plays presents a unique social and cultural milieu where dark fantasies of revenge are variously played out.
In Kyds The Spanish Tragedy a grieving father seeks public justice for the murder of his son by envious princelings. When his attempts are thwarted he turns a court spectacle of murder into the ‘real thing. Blackly comic in its tone and style, The Revengers Tragedy (anon.) presents vengeance as mimetic art, witty and cruel. Fords Tis Pity Shes a Whore represents an innovative re-working of the genre as a brothers love for his sister leads to his spectacular revenge on his rival, her husband, in a society in which brutal retaliation for perceived wrong is the norm. In Websters The White Devil crimes of passion ignite revenge in the courts of the Italian city states.
This student edition contains fully annotated, modernized texts of each play together with an introduction discussing the dramatic and poetic style of each play, focusing on its action and play of ideas.
A collection of the four major tragedies from the early modern period ideal for students, with on page commentary notes to deepen understanding and a comprehensive introduction giving valuable contextual and critical information.
About the Author
Janet Clare is Professor of Renaissance Literature and Director of the Andrew Marvell Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Hull, UK.
Play texts edited by: Andrew Gurr (The Spanish Tragedy), Brian Gibbons (The Revengers Tragedy), Martin Wiggins ('Tis Pity Shes a Whore), Christina Luckyj (The White Devil).