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The Duchess of Malfi (New Mermaids) Paperback – August 29, 2003


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The Duchess of Malfi (New Mermaids) + 'Tis pity she's a whore (New Mermaids) + The Witch of Edmonton (New Mermaids)
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Product Details

  • Series: New Mermaids
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (August 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713667915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713667912
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'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

About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coma Crush on November 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title character is what we refer to in modern parlance as a BAMF. This has everything you could want in a play: love, sex jokes, stage combat, and an awesome pre-death monologue.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Certain Bibliophile on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This review contains spoilers.

That John Webster's birth records were quite probably destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 is a fitting biographical fact in light of reading "The Duchess of Malfi." It perfectly highlights the senseless destruction, both physical and spiritual, that permeates this play. The duplicity, violence, and familial division rival anything that you can find in Shakespeare. While the poetry itself doesn't quite reach the Shakespearean firmament in its baroque floridity, the language is wonderful, and just as full of double entendre and puns as the greatest of Shakespeare's plays are.

The action is relatively straightforward. The Duchess of Malfi, whose overbearing brothers Ferdinand and the Cardinal insist that she never re-marry for fear that they might have to share her wealth with someone else, disobeys them and asks Antonio, one of her stewards, to marry her. Several years pass, during which the Duchess has two children by Antonio, while the brothers remain ignorant of the marriage, but they eventually find out. In an attempt to escape Ferdinand's wrath, Antonio flees to Ancona. Bosola, the Cardinal's goon, chases them in hot pursuit. The Duchess, her two younger sons, and her female servant are all killed on Bosola's instruction. Bosola, long upset by the Cardinal's venality, decides to revenge the Duchess and her children. The Cardinal, after murdering his mistress to keep her quiet, plans to kill Bosola, too, but instead kills Antonio who has since returned to Malfi. Just to drive home the idea of complete and utter wanton cruelty, the Cardinal, Ferdinand, and Bosola all die in a final melee.
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