KNA VE OR FOOL? ITHAMORE AS DRAMATIC PARADIGM IN THE lEW OF MALTA Dale G. Priest Marlowe's The Jew 0/ Malta is an unorthodox piece of stagecraft by most any standards, and the received critical assessment of the play reveals a predictable discontinuity of opinion. The older view of the play is typically unkind. Hazlitt remarked that it is "a tissue of unprovoked and incredible atrocities," I anticipating a critical scorn for Marlowe's hyperbolism that generally held, in our own day, until the 1950's. In spite of T. S. Eliot's kindly comment that The Jew may be called a "farce of the Old English humor, the terribly serious, even savage, comic humor,"2 the earlier modems were rarely moved to praise. Bakeless' stern evaluation is representative: "The Jew 0/ Malta is not a great play; ... It is not even a good play; ... It is, indeed, not so much a play at all as the great beginning of a play." J Kocher complained that The Jew "bulges grotesquely under the press ure of Marlowe's satirical impulses, which dart in at every opportunity or no opportunity," and declared the plot an "unreasoned mass of melodramatic incident."4 The appearance in
Explorations in Renaissance Culture – Brill
Published: Dec 2, 1982
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