History ∙ Plays ∙ Genre ∙ Games

Gary Taylor

in The Oxford Handbook of Thomas Middleton

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199559886
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 History ∙ Plays ∙ Genre ∙ Games

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This article asks: Did Middleton write any history plays? And if he did, are they any good? Behind those sceptical questions lurk two others. ‘What is the history play?’ And is Middleton really ‘our other Shakespeare’? The article suggests that while Middleton did not write history plays the way Shakespeare did, or as often as Shakespeare did, he did write two artful, thoughtful, original history plays – plays as dark and brilliant, as delightful and disturbing, as his comedies, tragedies, and tragicomedies. Those histories are important precisely because Middleton sees and shapes the past differently from Shakespeare. If history is indeed a battle between competing books, then analysing the difference between Shakespeare's histories and Middleton's is not just an idle game professors play.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; history plays; Shakespeare

Article.  8552 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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