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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2008
Had there been no Shakespeare, John Ford's play "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" would never have been written--but Shakespeare's tremendous example not only provided part of context of this play, but also obscures it. "'Tis Pity" is not as good as Shakespeare's very best works (the great tragedies and romances). Ford struggles to match Shakespeare's second-best works (e.g., the great comedies such as "As You Like It").

But judging Ford in comparison with Shakespeare is unfair. Perhaps a few score of writers really match Shakespeare: Homer, Sappho, Ovid, Virgil, perhaps Dante. I wouldn't give Shakespeare a five-star rating and give, say, Pope, Keats, or Austen a four-star rating. Nor would I give Ford a three-star rating next to Shakespeare's five-star and Keats' and Austen's four-star ratings.

In the bell curve of literature, Shakespeare and Homer (in my opinion) occupy the vanishingly small right side of the curve. Very few writers match Ford's achievement in "'Tis Pity." The play is powerful, cleanly plotted, and brilliantly written. In particular, Ford does a great job in creating sympathy for all of his major characters, and in particular for the incestuous lovers at the heart of the play. The play suffers only by comparison with Shakespeare and perhaps a handful of other great dramatists.

More important, the New Mermaids edition is very useful. The introduction is thoughtful and thorough; the page layout is clear (especially important with drama); and the footnotes are generally useful. The editor, Wiggins, sometimes elucidates matters that are perfectly clear--but I would rather the editor take that approach than leave me in the dark.

In short, serious students of literature will want to read this play, and the New Mermaids edition provides a well-annotated text using modern English spelling.
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on May 29, 2015
There is a wonderful academic aura about this book that really helps the reader to understand the extremes of what appears to be a normal world.
Fun. Sexy. Vulgar. Ugly. At its core it is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a society that a purity of love can only be found
in the incestuous relationship of a brother and sister.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2001
This play is an excellent example of incest in the Renaissance. It's also fairly short and very readable. Bergetto is an interesting character and provides much needed comic relief in this play which is ultimately quite tragic. The title is misleading in many ways, but female sexuality is problematic throughout.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Incest and dirty double hearted deeds that led all to this tragedy!

In cattle and horses siblings are breed that good genes double and bad ones die out.

In humans it engenders a madness of the superego

that leads to downfall and disgrace for all.

" Get thee to a nunnery " is the other side of "Tis Pity She's A Whore".

There is no wrong save "they" said it were so.

For men are but animals and their empty morals

all useless inventions?

We would better in these latter days trust

to DNA science than outmoded conventions.
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2 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2000
I was reluctant to pick up this book because of the title, but I decided to read it because it was around. I was mildly entertained and finished the book very quickly due to the short length. It is a tragedy in which almost all are killed in the end. I did not care much for the plot, which involves an incestuous relationship between brother and sister. After reading the beginning, it was rather easy to predict the ending. It is not tremendously detailed or emotional. I'm not sure if this is a title that would often come up in conversations between friends or colleagues, but avid readers might want to pick up the title to have read it.
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