Monday, May 31, 2010

Article on The Revenger's Tragedy

A while ago, I wrote a post on The Revenger's Tragedy, which is the source of my title, Pistols! Treason! Murder! I have just found this fantastic article on the play, in The Guardian, by Gary Taylor. (It's two years old, but better late than never.) An excerpt below:

The cover of Harold Bloom's best-selling Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human features a painting by Michelangelo, whose images of titanic individuality have long been recognised as a visual correlative of Shakespeare's great tragic heroes. By contrast, the Italian artist whose vision most resembles Middleton's is not Michelangelo, but his darker, more realistic successor, Caravaggio - who, like Middleton, was celebrated in his own time, but then ignored or disparaged by centuries of critics uncertain of his canon and shocked by his style.

Caravaggio's sympathetic, sensual Mary Magdalen could be the protagonist of Middleton and Dekker's comedy The Honest Whore. Middleton's tragedies can be as lurid, brutal and demystifying as Caravaggio's Judith and Holofernes. Caravaggio's torn, furrowed-browed Doubting Thomas, caught red-handed in that electric moment when scepticism thrusts its finger into faith, could be doubting Thomas Middleton's Timon ("I must ever doubt, though ne'er so sure") or Vindice ("O, I'm in doubt, whether I'm myself or no"). Caravaggio's Saint Jerome, alone, writing at a desk dominated by a skull, could be Middleton's morbid, isolated, intellectual revenger.

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