In this sardonic study that pushes against the boundaries of comedy, the affluent and flamboyant Athenian Timon faces a tragedy as he changes from generous optimist to bitter misanthrope.
A wealthy Athenian named Timon is famous for his hospitality and generosity. At his house, hangers-on and supposed friends flock to accept his largesse, while many citizens beg for his help. Yet Timon’s reckless spending eventually exhausts his resources, and to his astonishment, Timon finds that none of his friends or those who vowed eternal gratitude are prepared to help him in return. Fleeing Athens, Timon takes shelter in a cave and, with a bitter hatred, plots revenge on all mankind.
Timon of Athens is a bleak and sardonic study that strains against the bounds of comedy, and ends in tragedy with Timon’s change from generous, trusting optimist to bitter misanthrope. Almost certainly a collaboration with Thomas Middleton, the play bears the mark of Middleton’s harsh humour. But as Professor Jowett writes in the commentary volume: ‘It encompasses astonishing moments of theatre, scenes of incisive humour, glimpses of unexpected tenderness, and some of the most enthralling, if shocking, dramatic verse that Shakespeare wrote.’
Published by Oxford University Press and bound in hardback buckram by The Folio Society, The Oxford Shakespeare series offers authoritative editions of Shakespeare’s plays. The early printings have been scrupulously re-examined and interpreted by eminent scholars, who also provide introductory essays covering all relevant background information, together with an appraisal of critical views and of the plays in performance. The exhaustive commentaries pay particular attention to language and staging. Reprints of sources, music for songs, genealogical tables and maps are included where necessary; many of the volumes are illustrated, and all contain an index.
Each book has an individual editor, with the whole series overseen by Stanley Wells.
John Jowett is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Birmingham and Deputy Director of The Shakespeare Institute.
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