Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta

ISBN 13: 9781404311053

The Jew of Malta

 
9781404311053: The Jew of Malta
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We know not how our play may pass this stage, But by the best of poets in that age The Malta-Jew had being and was made; And he then by the best of actors play'd: In Hero And Leander one did gain A lasting memory; in Tamburlaine, This Jew, with others many, th' other wan The attribute of peerless, being a man Whom we may rank with (doing no one wrong) Proteus for shapes, and Roscius for a tongue,- So could he speak, so vary; nor is't hate To merit in him who doth personate Our Jew this day; nor is it his ambition To exceed or equal, being of condition More modest: this is all that he intends, (And that too at the urgence of some friends,) To prove his best, and, if none here gainsay it, The part he hath studied, and intends to play it.

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From the Back Cover:

First performed by Shakespeare’s rivals in the 1590s, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta was a trend-setting, innovative play whose black comedy and final tragic irony illuminate the darker regions of the Elizabethan cultural imagination. Although Jews were banished from England in 1291, the Jew in the form of Barabas, the play’s protagonist, returns on the stage to embody and to challenge the dramatic and cultural anti-Semitic stereotypes out of which he is constructed. The result is a theatrically sophisticated but deeply unsettling play whose rich cultural significance extends beyond the early modern period to the present day.

The introduction and historical documents in this edition provide a rich context for the world of the play’s composition and production, including materials on Jewishness and anti-Semitism, the political struggles over Malta, and Christopher Marlowe’s personal and political reputation.

About the Author:

Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) was an English playwright and poet, who through his establishment of blank verse as a medium for drama did much to free the Elizabethan theatre from the constraints of the medieval and Tudor dramatic tradition. His first play "Tamburlaine the Great," was performed that same year, probably by the Admiral's Men with Edward Alleyn in the lead. With its swaggering power-hungry title character and gorgeous verse the play proved to be enormously popular; Marlowe quickly wrote a second part, which may have been produced later that year. Marlowe's most famous play, "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus," based on the medieval German legend of the scholar who sold his soul to the devil, was probably written and produced by 1590, although it was not published until 1604. Historically the play is important for utilizing the soliloquy as an aid to character analysis and development. "The Jew of Malta" ("c. "1590) has another unscrupulous aspiring character at its centre in the Machiavellian Barabas. "Edward II" ("c. "1592), which may have influenced Shakespeare's Richard II, was highly innovatory in its treatment of a historical character and formed an important break with the more simplistic chronicle plays that had preceded it. Marlowe also wrote two lesser plays, "Dido, Queen of Carthage" (date unknown) and "The Massacre at Paris" (1593), based on contemporary events in France. Marlowe was killed in a London tavern in May 1593. Although Marlowe's writing career lasted for only six years, his four major plays make him easily the most important predecessor of Shakespeare.

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