Tyranny and Treason: Early Tragedies
Apart from Edward Archer’s dubious attribution to Tourneur, there is no external evidence against Thomas Middleton’s authorship of The Revenger’s Tragedy (1606); there is overwhelming internal evidence for it. The reluctance to admit the play to the Middleton canon has much to do with the stubborn grip of the authorized narrative of Middleton’s development. Even critics who accept Revenger as Middleton’s foster the three-period account of his career — early London comedies for the boys’ troupes, ‘Fletcherian’ tragicomedies for adult companies in the second decade, the great tragedies and Game at Chess in the final phase. If the three-period theory wobbles when Revenger is excluded, it collapses the moment it is included. Middleton’s early comic style was shaped by Paul’s, but he had tried other companies and genres. This chapter looks at political tyranny and treason in Middleton’s two early tragedies, The Revenger’s Tragedy and The Lady’s Tragedy.
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