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Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy; The Revenger's Tragedy; The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois; And the Atheist's Tragedy

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The Revenge Tragedy flourished in Britain during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The classic ingredients of the genre are a quest for vengeance, mad scenes, a play within a play, and carnage. Each of the four plays here subverts the genre, and deals with fundamental moral questions about justice and the individual, while registering the strains of life The Revenge Tragedy flourished in Britain during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The classic ingredients of the genre are a quest for vengeance, mad scenes, a play within a play, and carnage. Each of the four plays here subverts the genre, and deals with fundamental moral questions about justice and the individual, while registering the strains of life in an increasingly fragile social hierarchy. This edition includes Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, the anonymous The Revenger's Tragedy (variously ascribed to Cyril Tourneur and Thomas Middleton), The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois by George Chapman, and Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy.


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The Revenge Tragedy flourished in Britain during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The classic ingredients of the genre are a quest for vengeance, mad scenes, a play within a play, and carnage. Each of the four plays here subverts the genre, and deals with fundamental moral questions about justice and the individual, while registering the strains of life The Revenge Tragedy flourished in Britain during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The classic ingredients of the genre are a quest for vengeance, mad scenes, a play within a play, and carnage. Each of the four plays here subverts the genre, and deals with fundamental moral questions about justice and the individual, while registering the strains of life in an increasingly fragile social hierarchy. This edition includes Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, the anonymous The Revenger's Tragedy (variously ascribed to Cyril Tourneur and Thomas Middleton), The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois by George Chapman, and Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy.

30 review for Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy; The Revenger's Tragedy; The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois; And the Atheist's Tragedy

  1. 3 out of 5

    Robert

    The Spanish Tragedy, Thomas Kyd This play gets mentioned in the Introductions to numerous later plays because it is considered the first Revenge Tragedy of the era's drama - and, let's face it, the Elisabethan-Jacobean era was the Golden Age of English Drama. So when people talk about Titus Andronicus or Hamlet or Webster's Duchess of Malfi or The White Devil, this play tends to get discussed, too. That being so, I desired to read it specifically even more than I just generally want to explore th The Spanish Tragedy, Thomas Kyd This play gets mentioned in the Introductions to numerous later plays because it is considered the first Revenge Tragedy of the era's drama - and, let's face it, the Elisabethan-Jacobean era was the Golden Age of English Drama. So when people talk about Titus Andronicus or Hamlet or Webster's Duchess of Malfi or The White Devil, this play tends to get discussed, too. That being so, I desired to read it specifically even more than I just generally want to explore the work of Shakespeare's (near) contemporaries. All those scholars are not wrong; this play springs numerous of the themes and tropes of Revenge Tragedy on its audiences, fully formed. It clearly influenced Hamlet and MacBeth directly in terms of plot and character points as well as being the archetype of a new genre. The surprising thing was just how good it is. Particularly early on, the descriptive aspects of the writing are really good (though Shakespeare did it better, later). The depth of character isn't on a par with Shakespeare, either, but still, this play deserves to be read and performed on its own merits. Well done, Oxford Drama, for making it readily available. The Revenger's Tragedy Who wrote this? Nobody knows for sure. Thomas Middleton seems to be supplanting Cyril Turneur as the scholarly consensus for most likely author - but you won't learning anything about that debate from this volume, unfortunately. This was the first non-Shakespearean play of the era that I ever saw performed - it seemed to gain considerable traction in performance in the 1990s , because I saw another performance of it later in the decade. The first was the work of the drama dept. at my undergrad Uni. The second was a touring professional production at the Theatre Royal, Bath. The former was better than the latter, which used the conceit of Prohibition gangsters for its costuming. All the men were dressed in virtually identical suits and hats and it was next to impossible to follow the plot because the characters were not sufficiently visually differentiated. Reading the play makes this easier, the opposite of what I find with Shakespeare's plays. It seems like Shakespeare had more skill at working people's names and relations with each other into speech, a huge advantage when the cast of characters is bigger even than the number of players in the troupe, as was usually the case back then. Just one more reason why the Bard was better than the rest. Anyway, whilst clearly a Revenge Tragedy (see title!), displaying most of the tropes and moral implications of the genre, two are conspicuous by their absence: a ghost and a play-within-a-play. The absence of the former can be understood from the plot. The inciting crime is a rape rather than a murder, so there is no unquiet dead spirit to demand vengence from the living. As for the lack of a play-within-a-play, well, there's doubt who the perpetrator is and so no need for subterfuge to reveal the guilty party. The editor suggests that this play satirises the genre. I'm not really seeing it except in-so-far as the all the major characters are archetypes rather than individuals (even to the extent of having names that, translated from Latin, tell you exactly what they typify). The moral subtext seems to be the same as other plays of the same ilk: Earthly justice has gone astray and the Revenger must go outside the law to get...revenge. In doing so (and eventually succeeding), the Revenger invariably, directly or indirectly, causes a final act bloodbath that destroys the corrupt ruling regime, allowing a just ruler to take over. Unfortunately the Revenger also pays the price of taking the law into his own hands and is also killed. Hence his Tragedy brings everything back into moral balance.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Not only were these tragedies thoroughly entertaining, they also remind you of why Shakespeare is great.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I've only read two out of the four so far and will definitely go back to reading the other two at some point in my literary life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mike Jensen

    Terrific edition of four of the best early modern English tragedies not written by Shakespeare. Do not skip the editor's introduction. It is very good and will enrich the reading of these plays.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Although none of these are up with Shakespeare in terms of language they are still great fun and this is a superb edition.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Gruss

    rating for /The Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois/

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tree

    Love this book. The Revenger's Tragedy is my favourite Renaissance plays, and this book has a very good copy. This book gives good notes and a good translations on all these plays.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Mossdaniel

  9. 3 out of 5

    Abigail R

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mychael

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Hill

  14. 3 out of 5

    Christopher

  15. 3 out of 5

    Thomas Neve

  16. 4 out of 5

    The_Tuck

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anatole David

  18. 3 out of 5

    Molly

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sallie

  21. 3 out of 5

    Patrícia César

  22. 5 out of 5

    Crystl

  23. 3 out of 5

    Marissabooks

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  25. 3 out of 5

    skyswept

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben Gregson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alan Alibozek

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roxana Rathbun

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dara

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