The Spanish Tragedy became one of the most successful plays on the Elizabethan English stage and laid the foundation of the revenge tragedy, a genre that playwrights returned to throughout the early modern era and that endures even today. The story surrounds the civil servant Hieronimo, who joins Bel-imperia of the royal family to take revenge on her own brother for murdering Hieronimo’s son, the object of her affection. The work goes far beyond a story of intrigue and brings up questions of aristocratic privilege, the moral hazards of revenge, the spectacle of violence, and the agency of women at court.
This Broadview Edition includes a freshly edited text based on the 1592 edition, notes designed to help first-time readers understand and enjoy the work, an extensive introduction that situates the play in its literary and historical context, and extensive historical documents. The documents open up avenues of inquiry for students interested in the life and work of Thomas Kyd, the construction of women at court, the question of revenge, violence, and entertainment in Elizabethan England, and Spain in the Elizabethan imagination.
“This is a superb edition of The Spanish Tragedy — a work of exemplary scholarship and sensitive critical intelligence. The notes and annotations are admirably clear and informative, and the introduction to Thomas Kyd’s enigmatic life and work is enthralling and illuminating. As well as providing us with a fresh, updated play text, Patrick McHenry gives us a vivid account of the political and cultural background to this great, foundational work of revenge tragedy. Readers of this edition of the play will be rewarded with abundant critical insights and thought-provoking commentary.” — Stephen Regan, Durham University
“This foundational text of Renaissance drama and cultural history has been conservatively edited, helpfully glossed, and well annotated. In addition, a judicious selection of background materials (on revenge, honor, and forgiveness; Elizabethan blood lust; female agency; and Elizabethan perception of the Spanish temperament) makes this an excellent all-round edition for classroom use.” — Raymond-Jean Frontain, University of Central Arkansas