03 December 2007

For Lovers Of Renaissance Drama And Other Such Nerds

Neat article in the (London) Times today about Thomas Middleton's hand in writing a couple of Shakespeare's plays. Apparently he (re)wrote hundreds of lines in Macbeth and Measure for Measure. "The terse style of Macbeth had been attributed to him. But the research goes much farther, saying that Middleton is 'unmistakeably' the author of many more lines than previously realised – as much as 10 per cent of each play."

An interesting point about Shakespeare and All Those Other Writers:

Shakespeare’s plays were published in 1623, just seven years after his death: "Middleton’s plays weren’t similarly collected ... While Shakespeare’s company owned the legal right to have his plays printed, Middleton owned his own, and no one published one volume of his plays.

"That meant that, with the closing of the theatres in the Civil War, when they started up again following the Restoration, people only knew of three playwrights – Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Fletcher." It was not until the 19th century that interest in Middleton was revived. By then, Professor Taylor said, "Shakespeare had more than a 200-year headstart".

This is especially fun to me as Middleton's (with Dekker) The Roaring Girl is one of my favorite plays of all time. People who are not Jacobean drama nerds might know him for the darker but still great The Changeling or The Revenger's Tragedy. (The weird-ass post-apocalyptic film of The Revenger's Tragedy - starring Christopher Eccleston - is also pretty kick-ass.) But if you are a Jacobean drama nerd, apparently the complete Middleton that I was hearing about in college is finally coming out. For only $170, you can preorder now.

1 comment:

isaac said...

The Changeling is one of my favorite plays of all time. Whew boy what a dark one!

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