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A Mad World, My Masters and Other Plays [Hardcover]

Thomas Middleton , Michael Taylor

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Book Description

January 1997 0198121695 978-0198121695
Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was a writer of great versatility, and his career as a London dramatist spans the most productive, innovative, and exciting period of theatrical activity in the history of English drama. Best known for his tragedies, he also wrote many successful comedies of city life. This volume offers the best of these comedies: A Mad World, My Masters; Michaelmas Term; A Trick to Catch the Old One; No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's.

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"Good selection of plays...thorough, useful notes and glossary."--Simon Morgan-Russell, Bowling Green State University

"Thank you....It is good to know that such Renaissance classics are still in print."--Charles Hallett, Fordham University

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Taylor was Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He is now a freelance writer and editor. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars London "City Comedies" by a Renaissance Master Sept. 4 2005
By Q - Published on Amazon.com
This is a collection of Middleton's "city comedies" that take as their subject matter life in Renaissance London. They were written in the early 17th century. Middleton wrote some great tragedies, and he deserves his reputation as a major playwright of the time, perhaps unjustly overshadowed by Shakespeare's looming presence. The comparison, however, is unavoidable. The plays in this collection are not among Middleton's best works, which are undoubtedly the tragedies. The "city comedies" here are the Renaissance equivalent of a modern soap opera or situation comedy, and just as ephemeral. They are, however, of substantial interest to social and cultural historians, as well as scholars of Renaissance drama. They are all about cuckold husbands, greedy tradesmen, adulterous wives, foolish aristocrats, and grasping prostitutes. The character names say it all: Follywit, Harebrain, Brothel, Dustbox, Falselight, Pecunious Lucre, Moneylove, and Goldenfleece, to give just a sampling. The plots are generally convoluted and contrived. The language is often hard to decipher, not because of its rich complexity, as with Shakespeare, but because of the obscure vocabulary, syntax, and sloppy 17th century editing. Compounding the difficulty of the text is that the explanatory notes are all in the back of the book. Now, modern Shakespeare editions always use footnotes, not endnotes, for obvious reasons, so what makes the Oxford editors think they can use endnotes? It's very distracting and awkward to have to turn to the back of the book 5 or 10 times for each page of reading. Yes, every page has 5 to 10 endnotes! There is also a glossary in back, so if you have a question, and there is no endnote, you have to look up the word in the glossary. All this explanatory material should be put on the same page as the playtext. This is a major editing blunder, and there is no excuse for it. Compare the Norton edition of RENAISSANCE DRAMA, where they use footnotes. On the positive side, the Oxford English Drama series does make these plays more widely available. Although I can't imagine that anyone will read them apart from historians, literary scholars, and their students.

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