The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi

By (author) John Webster , Edited by Professor Brian Gibbons

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One of the most haunting tragedies written in the Jacobean period, The Duchess of Malfi (1614) adapts the true story of a noble Italian widow who secretly marries her steward and has children with him. Her two brothers, enraged by this act of female self-determination, begin to spy on the happy family, entrap them and subject their sister to fiendish psychological torture before they have her strangled. Unlike his sources, Webster does not condemn the Duchess for lasciviousness, nor does he allow her brothers to live. As the introduction to this edition shows, the play is replete with reverberations of earlier tragedies, most prominently Hamlet and Othello, and has few equals as a skilful and stirring rendition of Jacobean dramatic fashions.

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  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 16mm | 222.26g
  • 01 Sep 2007
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • METHUEN DRAMA
  • London
  • English
  • New edition
  • 4th ed.
  • c 5 photographs/line drawings
  • 0713667915
  • 9780713667912
  • 97,962

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Author Information

Brian Gibbons is a distinguished scholar and editor of Shakespeare and other early modern dramatists. He is the author of many critical studies and a General Editor of the New Mermaids and the New Cambridge Shakespeare series.

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Review quote

'Madness and melancholy suffuse John Webster's tragedy The Duchess of Malfi.' Paul Denver, Sunday Times, 18.07.10 'The play's jauntily disagreeable 17th- century plot- involving murderous violence and unbridled misogyny- is redeemed by its language, as fresh as if it had been written hours ago.' Kate Kellaway, Observer, 18.07.10

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