Society and Politics in the Plays of Thomas Middleton

Society and Politics in the Plays of Thomas Middleton

Society and Politics in the Plays of Thomas Middleton

Society and Politics in the Plays of Thomas Middleton


A comprehensive reassessment of Middleton's cultural importance, this wide-ranging study examines both the writer's dramatic and non-dramatic texts to demonstrate how he laid bare the complicit interests at work behind the assumptions about sex, morality, society and politics in late feudal culture.


This book is on Thomas Middleton's plays. His non-dramatic corpus hence receives less sustained treatment than I should have otherwise wished. the earlier poems and prose tracts are valuable evidence for the conditions under which Middleton took up a career in the theatre, and are given more attention than the later pageants and masques. the use made of the biographical material is equally discriminatory, and for the same reason.

The last collection of Middleton's works was edited by A. H. Bullen over a century ago. the Oxford Collected Works, which will replace Bullen's dated texts, is nearing completion. At the moment, one has to rely on modern critical editions of single plays. Their editorial conventions are not uniform, and I have retained the spellings of source editions in quotations while modernizing play titles and character names. This has been my rule with other works of Middleton, and with plays by other dramatists. Bullen, however, has been preferred to more recent editions not easily available.

The Textual Companion to the Oxford Collected Works will deal authoritatively with issues relating to Middleton's canon and chronology. I have, therefore, avoided referring readers to authorship and dating controversies, providing instead a summary chart of the extant canon.

The Bibliography excludes forthcoming titles and those quoted from mediate texts. It does not itemize multiple titles cited from collections. in all such cases, the notes give fuller details. Pre-1800 texts are cited by signatures because of frequent errors in pagination. Unless mentioned, the place of publication for pre-1800 titles is London.

The doctoral thesis which led to this monograph was written at Oxford between Michaelmas 1988 and Trinity 1991. As the notes will show, a number of books and articles published since then have coincided with my interests. An important few I was unable to obtain at the time of delivering the manuscript. An earlier draft of Chapter 6 will appear in Renaissance Essays for Kitty Scoular Datta, ed.Sukanta Chaudhuri , to be published by Oxford University Press, India.

Research for the thesis was funded by a Commonwealth Academic Staff Award, for which I wish to thank the Commonwealth Scholar ship Commission . . .

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