The Malcontent

And the mini-series on Jacobean drama continues.

Raw Feed (1989): The Malcontent, John Marston, Jacobean Tragedies, ed. A. H. Gomme, 1969.Jacobean Tragedies

An oddity of a play, especially for one included in an ostensible book of tragedies. Nobody dies. There is no real revenge or moral redemption here. As I recall, even in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play which shares many of the same plot devices and concerns  (disguised ruler, moral redemption and testing), people die.

Malevole graciously treats Duke Pietro who usurped. Aurelia, after so much time in the play spent railing against women (though mostly by villain), is allowed to repent and seems sincere. Bilioso, the epitome of the opportunistic, bragging noble is dismissed with contempt as is the play’s villain Mendoza who has plotted all sorts of villainies. Ferneze who has blatantly attempted adultery (and who, by the code of the time, could probably justifiably be killed) is spared and relatively unrebuked.

The epilogue seems to urge going easy on Fereneze and excusing the young for their actions (“foul but not a sin”). Continue reading

The Duchess of Malfi

Well, this is going to be the start of an experiment which I think is not going to work for all kinds of reason.

Nonetheless, I’m starting a minor series on Jacobean drama between new reviews.

Raw Feed (1989): The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster, 1623.Duchess of Malfi

Reading this play the second time around, I was struck by the plausibility of attributing Duke Ferdinand’s berserk, irrational anger at his sister the Duchess’ secret marriage to incestuous longings. This interpretation is partly weakened though by Webster’s failure to specifically say this is Ferdinand’s motive. Incest wasn’t a forbidden topic for Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and subtlety isn’t exactly Webster’s forte. If he meant it, why didn’t he come out and say it?

Part of Ferdinand’s mixed motives may simply be bad writing.

Bosola is a realistic character and justly the origin of the play’s fame. But he’s not really a “complex” character. He seems to simply be a man, out of ambition, who does what he knows he shouldn’t though he despises his co-conspirators and admires Antonio and the Duchess, his victims. He is the manifestation of an all too human trait.  Continue reading

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Vol. One: To Be Continued

Looking back in my posts after posting a review of volume six in this series, I see I hadn’t posted anything on volume one. I suspect that’s because, for whatever reason, I didn’t make notes on the last story in the book.

That makes this a …

Low Res Scan: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume One: To Be Continued, ed. Robert Silverberg, 2006.Robert Silverberg 1

Introduction” — An interesting introduction to this, the first volume in what Silverberg says is the third attempt to collect his stories. Silverberg continues to amaze me with his prolificness while not working weekends and while in college. Here he casually mentions all the stories, as a professional writer (not working weekends but while in college), he sold in the years 1953-58. He says that he will let his mediocre sports and mystery stories languish. Silverberg is unapologetic about being a hack to fund sf projects he did care about. It was only years later that he discovered that the writers he admired, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, and Theodore Sturgeon weren’t supporting themselves by in the same way. Leiber had an editorial job. Bradbury sold to the high paying slicks. Sturgeon simply lived near starvation — which Silverberg decidedly didn’t. However, he is happy to reprint his early pulp stories which he thinks show compentency and that he has affection for.

Gorgon Planet” — Silverberg justly points out that this, his first professional sale, is nothing special. But it is pretty good for an eighteen year old, and he’s right in showing that he had an early command of effectively linking exposition and dialogue. The plot itself is a lackluster retelling of the Perseus-Medusa myth in a sf context. Continue reading