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Duchess of Malfi (Crofts Classics) by John…

Duchess of Malfi (Crofts Classics) (edition 1953)

by John Webster

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9621914,126 (3.48)1 / 61
The Duchess of Malfi is one of the major tragedies of the early modern period and remains popular in the theatre as well as in the classroom. The story of the Duchess's secret marriage and the cruel revenge of her brothers has fascinated and appalled audiences for centuries. This new Arden edition offers readers a comprehensive, illustrated introduction to the play's historical, critical and performance history. The text is modernised and edited to the highest scholarly standards, with textual notes and commentary notes on the same page for ease of reference. This is the lead title in the launch of The Arden Early Modern Drama Series, a series which offers all the depth and quality of thinking long associated with the Arden. The edition will be valued by students, teachers and theatre professionals.… (more)
Title:Duchess of Malfi (Crofts Classics)
Authors:John Webster
Info:Harlan Davidson (1953), Paperback
Tags:17c, british, drama, tragedy, revenge play, jacobean

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The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster



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English (18)  Piratical (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
My opinions on "Malfi" have certainly changed since the halcyon days of my student youth. Webster's language is beautiful (if wholesale stolen from his sources) but the play is ultimately quite ridiculous, and demands exquisite staging to work well. (It can indeed work VERY well in performance!) Unfortunately, on the page, the silliness overrides the pathos. Shakespeare it ain't. ( )
  therebelprince | Dec 14, 2019 |
I don't know what John Webster was on, but I want some of it. His plotting is so much more populist than Shakespeare, which ordinarily I would count as a mark against him, yet 'The Duchess' has a rare, guttural power that elevates it above the rest of Webster's output. A joy. ( )
  therebelprince | Dec 14, 2019 |
Other sins only speak, murder shreiks out:
The element of water moistens the earth,
But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens.

Oh mercy, revenge upon the cursed Vengeful in five sumptuous acts of poetry, racy bits and bloodshed. The initial revengers are a creepy pair of powerful brothers miffed that their sis has moved on from bereavement and is now happily shacking up. They enlist the world's most literate assassin for the wet work. I began this a month ago and made it half way. I started over and completed the piece this evening. Touch your caps to the lyrical wizardry of John Webster. Extra points should be awarded for use of a poisoned book. ( )
1 vote jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers.


I read this for a group read. It was certainly a dramatic play: characters constantly left and entered the stage, and the action never let up. Years seemed to pass in a matter of seconds. In the bare-bones text supplied by Project Gutenberg, these chronological shifts were disorienting, and the stage directions didn't provide that much indication of where and when we were supposed to be. The story itself was interesting, especially that the Duchess had a stronger role than I would have expected from a play of that period -- she makes her own marriage and figures out a way to save her husband, even though in the end the scheming ring of men around her prove to be simply too many for her to outwit. The end reminded me of Hamlet, with the huge body count and the bewildered last person standing come to claim the title. There were a lot of people to keep track of before they became bodies, and without the commentary or background, it was hard to keep track of some of them. I'm going to have to read a print copy to get all of that background and perhaps further my understanding of the play.

I've given this 3 stars because it really did rocket along, and I bet the commentary will be interesting. ( )
2 vote rabbitprincess | Sep 15, 2018 |
I'm torn over what I think about this play. On the one hand, there are some wonderful characterizations and character development in the play. Bosolo, the Steward of the household of the Duchess, has some wonderfully funny and poetic lines. In fact, he has some of the best lines in the play and is perhaps is one of the best written characters of the play.

One the other hand, the plot of the play is threadbare in places and has huge gaps in it in other places, which detracts from the character development, the plays on language/words, and the dialogue. ( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Websterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beaton, CecilPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brennan, Elizabeth M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, John RussellEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, BrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kokoschka, OskarIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LaMar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malin, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marnau, AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, JackieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Hora. -- Si quid -- Candidus Imperti fi non his vtere mecum.
[Webster's Dedication begins:] To the right honourable George Harding, Baron Berkeley of Berkeley Castle and Knight of the Order of the Bath to the illustrious Prince Charles,
My Noble Lord,
That I may present my excuse why, being a stranger to your Lordship, I offer this poem to your patronage, I plead this warrant....
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Delio:  You are welcome to your country, dear Antonio, You have been long in France, and you return A very formal Frenchman, in your habit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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31-page introduction, 103-page text, 14 pages of notes.
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