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Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
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Titus Andronicus (edition 1984)

by William Shakespeare, Eugene M. Waith (Editor), George Peele (Author)

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1,468215,085 (3.71)126
Member:Crypto-Willobie
Title:Titus Andronicus
Authors:William Shakespeare
Other authors:Eugene M. Waith (Editor), George Peele (Author)
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (1984), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:William Shakespeare, Shakespeare: plays, early modern plays, renaissance drama 1485-1659, [New] Oxford Shakespeare, George Peele, plays

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Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
It may not say much for me as a person, but this is my absolute favorite Shakespearian play. I saw it performed at The Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, and I own the Julie Taymor film version and I still fall in love with it every time. Which is disturbing if you've read it or have any idea what it's actually about. So...yeah. ( )
  mlyons1 | Feb 12, 2014 |
Ever wish Shakespeare had written something incredibly dark and violent? Well lucky you, he did! In Titus Andonicus fans of the Bard can get their Quentin Tarantino fix in old English. This is one of Shakespeare’s first tragedies and by far one of the most violent. See if you can follow me as I give a quick and wildly confusing rundown of the plot...

A Roman general, Titus, is in a perpetual battle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Things escalate throughout the play, building to a disturbing pinnacle of violence.

Titus is appointed the new Roman Emperor but he turns the throne down, supporting Saturninus instead. He offers his daughter Lavinia to Saturnius, even though she’s already engaged to Bassianus, Saturnius’ brother. Titus sacrifices Tamora’s eldest son after taking her and her sons prisoner, which further instigates her wrath. In a surprise move Saturninus marries Tamora and Titus is furious.

Tamora’s living sons, Demetrius and Chiron, kidnap and rape Titus’ daughter Lavinia. When they’re done they cut out her tongue and cut off her hands. You can see why this one isn’t performed a lot. They also kill her original betrothed, Bassianus, which infuriates his brother (the emperor) Saturnius. Titus’ sons Martius and Quintus are framed for the murder and executed by Saturnius.

After that there are sliced hands and heads going back and forth in the mail. Let’s not forget Tamora’s lover Aaron, a moor who fathers her child while she is married to Saturnius. He’s a tricky one and causes quite a bit of mayhem.

The ultimate disturbing detail that made the play famous comes when Titus to be the Master Chef of Revenge. He kills Tamora’s remaining two sons and then uses their blood and bones to make her a fancy dinner. He then feeds it to her at a feast before revealing his secret ingredients. Gag. Then the bloody meal concludes with just about every main character being killed.

BOTTOM LINE: Cue Debbie Downer’s sad trombone noise, "wah waaah." I can’t say this is my favorite Shakespearean play, but I’m glad to know what all the fuss was about. Unlike his later tragedies, this one is missing the crucial element of emotional grounding. While we’re horrified by what happens to the characters we aren’t necessarily invested in them, which lessens the impact. Ultimately we are reminded that revenge, just like jealousy in Othello, destroys everyone in its path. ( )
1 vote bookworm12 | Feb 6, 2014 |
Never get involved in Roman politics.
  VeritysVeranda | Sep 29, 2013 |
This play is both horrific and kind of funny in a black humour kind of way... Now, the real work begins - as I will have lots to do with this - an essay, a film-review and more. ( )
  Lexxie | Apr 23, 2013 |
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This is one of those stories. I lump it in with The Sixth Sense he was dead all along , The Crying Game she has a penis , Planet of the Apes it was Earth all along and Titanic. the ship sinks

Each of these tales has a big, big surprise... and that's great, don't get me wrong... but the surprise is so shocking and memorable, it leaves the rest of the story looking like a flimsy lead-up. It's as if the shocker ending has so much gravity, it crushes the other plot elements like a black hole. After a while, I can't remember anything but "the big surprise."

That isn't to say Titus Andronicus is no good. Of course it's good; it's a pulp revenge story set in ancient Rome, written in Shakespeare's beautiful language... but my appreciatiation of it is limited by the irritating sense that most of the story was only there to set me up for the big kick-in-the-pants ending.

Does that make sense?

Remember the 1970's Incredible Hulk television show? I can't recall the plots of almost any episodes, but it doesn't matter; their only purpose each week was to set up some situation where Dr. David Banner could get angry and transform into the Hulk, and then do something cool like flip over a car or smash something.

Whatever else happened each week... well, most viewers could have hardly given a fuck, so long as there were those scenes with the Hulk. Those were an ironclad, non-negotiable requirement of each episode. Imagine viewers' reaction if an episode were to air without any Hulk escapades (i.e. just some story about David Banner). Unthinkable!

The show always seemed lesser to me for that fact.

Neverminding all that, this read was a revisit for me to Titus Andronicus, so there were no surprises this time, but the gore was still gory and shocking. It's the best representation of barbarism, excess and degeneracy in the Roman Empire, this side of Malcolm McDowell's performance in Caligula.

In my present disillusioned mood, I can see Titus Andronicus is maybe not Shakespeare's best work. For one thing, the entire yarn is an unraveling Hatfield-and-McCoy feud between Roman general Titus and the Goth queen Tamora, in which they alternately kill or torture each others' children. The trouble starts with Titus slaughtering Tamora's vanquished son Alarbus, right in front of her- in fact over her impassioned and heartbreaking pleas for mercy. It seems like Titus and Tamora should go after each other directly, but the story has a higher body count this way. I'm not sure even the Romans were this gratuitously violent. Shortly after Alarbus's death, Roman emperor Saturnius marries the captured Tamora... AND TITUS STAYS ON AS A TOP GENERAL, HOPING HIS CAREER CAN CONTINUE TO RISE, WITH TAMORA AS THE NEW EMPRESS! What could possibly go wrong?

Outrageous.

Absurd.

Ridiculous.

On one hand, Titus is a brilliant and merciless Roman general. On the other hand, is he so naive as to not anticipate retribution? Are we just going to give the Bard a pass on this?

I guess we can, because Titus is Shakespeare's first tragedy, and the play reflects the vulgar popular tastes of the day. I hadn't known this when I posted the above pic of Sissy Spacek, but Carrie is similar to Titus, in that Carrie is one of Stephen King's earlier and bloodier works, and arguably not as artful or sophisticated as his later writing.

Moving on with my complaints about Titus, there is a lot of back-and-forth between Titus and Tamora killing each other's children, which in itself is disturbing enough, but the whole treatment of Titus' daughter Levinia is just too over the top cruel and mean-spirited. I've never seen an author abuse a character so, and here it isn't even in the service of any important or profound point. It's pure pornography of suffering, like those Saw or Hostel movies. In fact, I'm pretty sure no character in any of those movies gets worse than Levinia does in this play.

After pointing this out, I feel a little weird raising my last complaint with the Titus: that none of it is true. No, I wouldn't want all this grusome stuff to have actually happened, but I'm just saying I always appreciated learning a little history from Mr. Shakespeare. Julias Caesar and Coriolanus were both based on real events, which gaves them an added cool Titus Andronicus will never have. ( )
  BirdBrian | Apr 7, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (70 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shakespeare, Williammain authorall editionsconfirmed
Peele, GeorgeAuthormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berthoud, JacquesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Defend the justice of my cause with arms,
And, countrymen, my loving followers,
Plead my successive title with your swords:
I am his first-born son, that was the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;
Then let my father's honours live in me,
Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.
Quotations
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671722921, Mass Market Paperback)

FOLGER Shakespeare Library

The world's leading centerfor Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

· Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

· Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

· Scene-by-scene plot summaries

· A key to famous lines and phrases

· An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

· An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

· Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Alexander Leggatt

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit www.folger.edu.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:52 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents Shakespeare's tragedy of the cruelties and excesses of the Roman court.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014071491X, 0141019662

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