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Roaring Girl

ISBN-10: 039393277X
ISBN-13: 9780393932775
Edition: 2010
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Description: This Norton Critical Edition of Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekkerrs"s The Roaring Girl is based on the text from English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology. It is accompanied by generous explanatory annotations, five illustrations, and a  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 1/3/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 339
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

This Norton Critical Edition of Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekkerrs"s The Roaring Girl is based on the text from English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology. It is accompanied by generous explanatory annotations, five illustrations, and a detailed introduction. "Contexts" is thematically arranged to include almost all known documents from the period concerning Mary Frith (aka Moll Cutpurse), among them records of her court appearances, letters recounting the same, and her last will. Also reprinted are significant passages from her purported 1662 "autobiography," The Life and Death of Mrs. Mary Frith . While of dubious veracity, the "autobiography" is useful for comparing the playrs"s portrayal of Moll with later developments in Moll Cutpurse lore, which the Norton Critical Edition traces through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Perhaps most engaging for classroom discussion are substantial excerpts from the 1620 cross-dressing pamphlets- Hic Mulier; or, The Man-Woman and Haec Vir; or, The Womanish Man -which appear in annotated, modern-spelling versions. Together they give insight into how gender-bending trends in clothing, similar to those practiced by Moll, were understood in the early seventeenth century. A related passage from A Sermon of Apparel adds another perspective on cross-dressing practices. Fourteen critical essays chart the development of scholarly interest in The Roaring Girl , from the first half of the twentieth century, when the play received only passing reference, through the work on city comedy in the 1970s and 1980s, to the explosion of analyses in the late 1980s and 1990s, when the play became a major focus for early modern gender studies. The more recent critical essays move beyond a strict focus on gender and cross-dressing to explore The Roaring Girlrs"s depiction of other aspects of early modern London, including consumer culture and the contemporary fascination with the language of the criminal underworld. Contributors include, among others, T. S. Eliot, Alexander Leggatt, Mary Beth Rose, Jonathan Dollimore, Jean E. Howard, and Jonathan Gil Harris. A Selected Bibliography is also included.

Middleton, who wrote in a wide variety of genres and styles, was a thoroughly professional dramatist. His comedies are generally based on London life but are seen through the perspective of Roman comedy, especially those of Plautus. Middleton is a masterful constructor of plots. "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" (1630) is typical of Middleton's interests. It is biting and satirical in tone: the crassness of the willing cuckold Allwit is almost frightening. Middleton was very preoccupied with sexual themes, especially in his tragedies, "The Changeling" (1622), written with William Rowley, and "Women Beware Women" (1621). The portraits of women in these plays are remarkable. Both Beatrice-Joanna in "The Changeling" and Bianca in "Women Beware Women" move swiftly from innocence to corruption, and Livia in "Women Beware Women" is noteworthy as a feminine Machiavelli and manipulator. In his psychological realism and his powerful vision of evil, Middleton is close to Shakespeare.

Dekker was a popular, prolific writer who had a hand in at least 40 plays, which he wrote for Philip Henslowe, the theatrical entrepreneur. In the plays that seem to be completely by Dekker, he shows himself as a realist of London life, but even his most realistic plays have a strong undertone of romantic themes and aspirations. The Shoemaker's Holiday (1600), for example, glorifies the gentle craft of the shoemaker, and the character Simon Eyre speaks in an extravagant, hyperbolic style that is far from realistic. Dekker also wrote such prose pamphlets as the Bellman of London (1608) and The Gull's Hornbook (1609), the latter an entertaining account of the behavior of a country yokel and dupe in London. He died in debt.

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