Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-2bgxn Total loading time: 0.703 Render date: 2022-12-02T17:06:56.887Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

1 - English Renaissance tragedy: theories and antecedents

from Part 1 - Themes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2010

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
Get access

Summary

'The practice of Elizabethan drama cannot be easily brought into focus for us by the statements of Renaissance literary criticism.' So writes George K. Hunter in a recent essay on 'Elizabethan Theatrical Genres and Literary Theory'. However, if we use the word theory rather loosely to mean a 'set of ideas', then perhaps we can discern a fairly clear line of development in the ideas of tragedy from the Middle Ages to the annus mirabilis of English Renaissance tragedy: 1587. This was the year which saw the appearance not only of Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great, but also, most probably, of Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy - the play which opens the sequence presented for analysis in the present volume. In this short essay, I shall try to give an account of at least some of the main features of this 'theory', from the late medieval period, to the new neo-classical theory which emerged in a 'strong' form in the mid-Tudor period, and developed into a more moderate (though not exactly 'weak') form in the early and mid-Elizabethan period. Then, I shall return to the two great plays already mentioned, in order to argue that we are in danger of missing a 'lost tradition' of early Renaissance tragedy which extends up to and beyond the watershed years of the late 1580s. As it happens, there are literally hundreds of works which might be described as the 'antecedents' of English Renaissance tragedy, so we shall only be able to look at a few of those which seem to me most important or interesting; but they should suffice to give us a decent picture of the spacious and energetic tradition of tragic composition and performance up to Kyd and Marlowe.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×