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The Duchess of Malfi   by John Webster   Cased Copy

2 3/4" x 2 1/8", and the case is 2 1/2" x 3 1/4" x 1 1/2"
188 pages -  A unique copy

In 1602,after the death of Elizabeth I, it didn't take long for English playwrights to trim their sails to follow the tastes of James IV of Scotland, who became James I. The new king's reign was sterner, more superstitious, and less tolerant than the more enlightened and outward-looking Elizabethans, and  English drama became bloodier, influenced more by Seneca than by Plautus.  The Duchess of Malfi, based on the story of  Giovanna d'Aragona, as told in  Matteo Bandello's Novelle, (1554), is the finest and darkest flower of Jacobean drama.

The Duchess, a young widow, yearns to marry her steward, Antonio, against the wishes of her powerful brothers. She marries him secretly and bears him three children before they are found out. Her brother the Cardinal wants her inheritance, but her brother the Duke wants a crueler and more pitiless revenge.

The play is bound in a black and yellow Indian Lokta screen print with a crude Renaissance floral pattern, and a black leather spine with raised bands and leather straps. It is cased in a unfolding box that resembles a proscenium arch when closed. The box is lined with paper printed in wolf fur, echoing the unsettling lines of Act V, ii:

   One met the Duke about midnight in a lane
   Behind Saint Mark's church with the leg of a man
   Upon his shoulder, and he howled fearfully;
   Said hew was a wolf,' only the difference
   Was, a wolf's skin  was hairy on the outside
   His on the inside; bade them take their swords,
   Rip up his flesh, and try.

This product was added to our catalog May 23, 2017