Doing Kyd

Essays on The Spanish Tragedy

This book recognises the importance of the playwright and The Spanish Tragedy for the development of early modern theatre and beyond. It aims to familiarise readers with the play which, literally, set the stage for the Elizabethan revenge tragedy boom. The book revisits theories of revenge, and examines the play's latest editions, stage productions and screenplay adaptations. It takes the reader on a rewarding journey from Kyd's Proserpine to William Shakespeare's Prospero and brings personal editorial accounts on what it means to edit The Spanish Tragedy in the third millennium. The book argues that the lasting position of The Spanish Tragedy in the Low Countries is of interest from a politico-religious perspective. It advocates a shift in the critical approaches to The Spanish Tragedy, away 'from debating whether the play reflects Habsburg Spain or Renaissance Italy to considering how it portrays Mediterranean culture in relation to early modern England and its desire to play a role in the European colonial expansion'. The book further argues that The Spanish Tragedy, which has been regarded primarily as a 'blood and guts' revenge tragedy, was actually written to promote the Protestant politico-religious ethos, represented by Leicester, against Catholic Babylon/Spain under Philip II. Kyd combines aspects of the anti-Leicester tradition with elements of the Spanish Black Legend as expressed in Antonio Pérez's Las Relaciones in order to depict Spain under Philip II as the evil enemy of Protestant England.

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‘Thomas Kyd's oft-taught revenge play The Spanish Tragedy engages with issues resonant in our time: authoritarianism, economic and social inequality, global­ization, and the seeming impossibility of worldly justice. Though this collection emerged from a 2006 workshop at the University of Warwick and seems to have had a long gestation, its publication is well-timed for the current political moment.'
Marianne Montgomery, East Carolina University
Early Theatre 20.1

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