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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary background for Agatha Christie & Dorothy L. Sayers
My preferred version is the New Mermaids edition of The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster. Elisabeth M. Brennan edits this edition (ISBN: 0393900665.) I mention this, as it does not seem to be readily available. However this version will do.
I bought this after reading snippets of it in other books. I do not recall having to learn this in school. Only now do I...
Published on 16 Sep 2001 by bernie

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly review of critical apparatus of this edition, not a review of the play.
This is a review of the scholarly textual apparatus of the Arden edition of the play edited by Ms. Leah Marcus. It is not a review of the play itself.

School and university students: this is an edition full of useful notes and information and although irritatingly 'trendy' in parts it is the best current edition for you, as the footnotes are very extensive and...
Published on 28 Sep 2011 by Giles Penfold


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary background for Agatha Christie & Dorothy L. Sayers, 16 Sep 2001
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
My preferred version is the New Mermaids edition of The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster. Elisabeth M. Brennan edits this edition (ISBN: 0393900665.) I mention this, as it does not seem to be readily available. However this version will do.
I bought this after reading snippets of it in other books. I do not recall having to learn this in school. Only now do I intend to read "The White Devil" in anticipation of it being encountered in other works.
Well what do you know? This animal is based on a true story of the Duchess of Amalfi. Evidentially there were several books written on this and he picked one for the outline of the play.
The Elisabeth M. Brennan edition is almost as good as taking a class in its self. The introduction gives you a back ground and the basic story that the play was based on. You get some information on John Webster and some of his other plays. There is even a further Reading List. There are even notes on the text and how to read the notes for the different versions of the play its self. By the time you get to the play you are well prepared to read it.
The play its self has stanzas, line numbers and notes to help you through the difficulty of understanding what the words mean in context. It is almost like reading a bible. You soon pickup speed and then actually get intrigued in the writing and story.
Now I desperately want some local theater to present "The duchess of Malfi"
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary, 20 April 2001
By A Customer
Written by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, many might recognize John Webster as the rat loving boy in "Shakespeare in Love". His strange fascination with taboo subjects comes to the forefront in this play, incest, murder, the character of Bosola seemingly unable to identify where his loyaltyies lie, the Duchess herself under the strain of being a good ruler when all she wants to do is live as she wants. More gutsy one might say than Shakespeare's plays - with the exception of Titus perhaps - and certainly the issues within are still relevant in this day and age. And many still controversial. Webster may not have received the commercial success of Shakespeare, but he certainly deserves some sort of cult status, a sort of Jacobean Martin Scorsese - refusing to accept the conventions of how a revenge tragedy shoud go - killing off the main part an act before the finish, having a murderous assassin with a conscience - and exploring what he wanted to. And not necessarily what the public wanted to see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Kindle presentation of the Play., 18 April 2012
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This review is from: The Duchess of Malfi (Kindle Edition)
Presumably most readers of this edition will be like myself - someone who knows the play and wanted a copy of it. I love it but can understand those who don't: hence the only reason for my review is to let potential users know about its Kindle presentation.

With just a very, very short introduction it is effectively just the text of the script and nothing else: valuable for reading or a reference but not for study purposes. As with most plays it appears cluttered on a standard Kindle screen and would not be an ideal vehicle for learning lines if you were to be acting one of the parts.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly review of critical apparatus of this edition, not a review of the play., 28 Sep 2011
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This is a review of the scholarly textual apparatus of the Arden edition of the play edited by Ms. Leah Marcus. It is not a review of the play itself.

School and university students: this is an edition full of useful notes and information and although irritatingly 'trendy' in parts it is the best current edition for you, as the footnotes are very extensive and the introduction has much that is useful.

Academics, researchers, specialists: a huge amount of work has of course gone into this edition and much of the work - indeed most of it - is useful and thorough. However, the negative aspects are so conspicuous that it is almost shocking that the edition was released without any publisher's final checking. I list below some observations about these faults, some of which are relatively minor and some egregious.

Style: a) LM indicates that writers were reserved about publicising their membership of livery companies (p4) but we have to wait for two pages to be told why;
b) appropriate formal style with sudden descents into bathos: Webster warns readers 'not to expect the play to conform to the classical rules ... because of his need to fit in to the scruffy venue of its performance.' (p7); the real duchess 'avoided the sexual profligacy that characterized the behaviour of some of her close relatives ... until she became front page news in Italy.' (p17)
c) LM draws our attention to 'the images of fragmentation and dismemberment [which] link up with contemporary issues like Protestant fear of engulfment by Catholicism ...' (p9) but then says nothing more about the matter.
d) LM frequently writes two paragraphs as one so that one finds oneself in the middle of the text suddenly being addressed about a completely new topic. The worst example is p44, 'Similarly ...' Judge for yourself.

Anomalies: a) LM tells us that the Duchess is a 'relatively good' person (p15), but on the next page she is 'an exemplar of heroic constancy.'
b) UK readers - this is a British edition from a UK publisher - do not need to be told that a 'pavement' is a 'walkway' (note to 5.ii. 317); in fact they may be confused by such a note. Also, the word 'moot' (t.n. to 1.ii.297) has an opposite meaning in Britain to that prevailing in the US.
c) LM quotes two sententiae (p51) which she describes as 'conflicting moral adages'. They are not. Judge for yourself.
d) the 'they' of t.n. to 5.i.6, ' 'cheat', has no obvious referend. The lands? The letters?

Absurdity: a) LM's commitment to a feminist reading of the play leads her in strange directions. Evoking parallels between the eponymous heroine and Chaucer's Griselda, she argues that allowing her brothers to abuse and vilify and ultimately murder her, far from being any kind of weakness, is triumphantly assertive. Thus, she says of Griselda that 'she never says no to him and therefore never allows him to override her own wishes. Griselda therefore deconstructs the power of the tyrant by showing it to be without limits. Similarly, paradoxically, the Duchess preserves her identity and self-mastery precisely through her constancy and her acquiescence in her brothers' long list of torments.' (p38) By what grostesque intellectual contortions, initiated by the necessity to follow the latest academic fad, however lunatic, can a university teacher allow herself to pen such fatuous statements? We do not, in the real world, in a lawcourt for example, argue that a murderer has been worsted by her victim.
But it gets even worse, for the paragraph ends with the view that the tormenting brothers are actually themselves the victims: 'they vicariously punish their own unacknowledged appetites by tormenting her.' (p38) [Actually, they are indulging those appetites ...] This is bad even by the standards of American anti-intellectual christo-fascist ideology.

b) Webster's play reflects details about the 'real' duchess' story which he could not easily have known. LM suggests this explanation: 'perhaps he was so preternaturally attuned to the Duchess' story that he "invented" circumstances that were, unbeknownst to him, supported by the historical record.' This is shocking drivel, even for someone living in a supernaturalist theocracy.

Textual: a) the discussion of Q2's deviation from Q1, the base text, involves farcical over-reading of the differences. See p85 ff.
b) Q4's emendation of 'they'd take me hell' (1.ii.183) to insert a 'to' is ignored by LM; her reasons are flimsy.

Errors: a) a 'roaring boy' (t.n. to 2.1.18) does not mean someone 'foppish' - quite the reverse, it's much closer to British English 'yob'
b) LM's paraphrase of 5.ii.96-7 is wrong. 'For, though I counselled it,/ The full of all th'engagement seemed to grow/ From Ferdinand. ' does not mean that the Cardinal is 'disclaiming responsibility for the precise method employed in the Duchess' death' (t.n.) but that Ferdinand was more energetic and forceful it putting the plan into operation.

Plagiarism; scores of notes are borrowed from the 1964 Revels edition of J R Brown, without acknowledgement. Many are almost verbatim. See, for example, LM's t.n. on 'Switzer' (2.ii.37) which is almost identical. LM mentions Brown's edition at the start of her lengthy acknowledgements (xvi-xviii) but does not indicate that she has received any help, guidance or information from it. This is the worst, and most outrageous aspect, of LM's edition.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to love tragedies!!!!, 10 Feb 2002
As a teenager English Literature is one of the most mind-numbing subjects to study - or so I thought until I was introduced to this book. Despite being written in a completely different period, each character would fit in perfectly with the world today, and has far more twists than any soap-opera or sit-com.
Perfect for all those wonderful people who find murder, incest, power seeking, lust, mad men singing and blatant insults even mildly amusing.
Get used to the Jacobean speech, and this is one hell of a play. Read this one, and then find yourself some more Webster!!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic, 14 Mar 2014
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This is a classic among classics,with its depiction of lust,treachery and revenge.This is most definitely Websters greatest work.a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Duchess of Malfi by Webster, 19 Mar 2013
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A good KIndle edition, with large, legible print. A pity that it is not easier to search the text for key-words and phrases.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prompt delivery, excellent condition, good price!, 9 Sep 2010
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cm63 (North Yorkshire, uk) - See all my reviews
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Ordered on the 8th and received on the 9th - prompt delivery, excellent condition, good price! Can't fault this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Duchess review, 30 Mar 2014
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Hard to put down once you get drawn in to this brilliantly imaginative and creative work from the twisted thoughts of Webster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delivered quickly and in excellent condition, 8 Sep 2013
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I needed this book quickly as I'm starting a degree this month, and it arrived in good time in perfect nick so I'm happy. The book itself is full of detailed analysis and excellent commentary, whilst not saying so much that's it's impossible to formulate your own ideas.
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