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The Spanish Tragedy

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,261 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Large Format for easy reading. Highly popular and influential in the development of Elizabethan drama, it established a new genre in English theatre; the revenge play.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published October 3rd 2005 by Dodo Press (first published 1592)
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Kirby Treadwell Try, it has a lot of books available to read online, the format's nit the most readable as it is just a screen of text but it's…moreTry, it has a lot of books available to read online, the format's nit the most readable as it is just a screen of text but it's good enough if you're desperate. And if you read on a tablet you can download the free kindle app and open project Gutenberg books in that(less)
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Bill  Kerwin

This strange, lumpy drama is oddly effective in its own discursive way, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Elizabethan theatre in general or Hamlet in particular or who is fascinated by the theme of revenge.

The exposition (political rivalry between Spain and Portugal, events leading up to Horatio's murder) is well executed, but after that Kyd's passion for powerful effect (particularly in Hieronimo's mad scenes) overshadows and occasionally confounds coherent plot development.
Bryn Hammond
Jul 17, 2016 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love it. Of course the language is more patterned than Shakespeare, but if you can enjoy that, it's well-done. I read it (again) for Titus Andronicus background; and it has a similar effect of horror-farce (... more funny. I can't help but laugh through the last scene, whether I'm meant to or not. Heironimo's mad grief speeches, though, have serious pathos); but so much else seems to have begun here.

Proper title: The Spanish Tragedie: Or, Heironimo is mad againe. I read a nifty ebook with origi
Apr 15, 2014 Jesse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This revenge play, the finest and most popular of the Elizabethan era, possesses an admirable structure and many finely wrought, though often over-labored, phrases and rhythms. The words spin out successfully and appropriately (except for those terrible, and long, dips into Latin!); yet are they one and all lacking the necessary passion that undergirds Shakespeare's and Marlowe's greatest exchanges. Although the words each fall with a grace, they, like the notes in a Steely Dan song, in the aggr ...more
Hieronimo, methinks a comedy were better.

A comedy?
Fie, comedies are fit for common wits:
But to present a kingly troupe withal,
Give me a stately-written tragedy,
Tragedia cothurnata, fitting kings,
Containing matter, and not common things.

(IV:i, ll. 155-161)

The Spanish Tragedy is one of those plays that shows up very frequently on college courses and Shakespeare-related reading lists. Yet despite its popularity with Theatre Studies professors the world over, it's very ra
Mar 29, 2014 Yani rated it really liked it
Shelves: teatro, universidad
A pesar de que me encantaría hacerlo, no hablaré de las similitudes y diferencias con Hamlet (que todavía no terminé, por cierto) porque esto se convertiría en una monografía. Creo, además, que The Spanish Tragedy puede sobrevivir por sí sola y me gustó más allá de los textos con los que puede cruzarse.

La palabra tragedy no es un adorno del título y marca el tono de toda la obra de una manera implacable. La Venganza (así, con mayúscula) mueve los hilos de cada personaje y hay poquísimo esp
Jade Heslin
Feb 07, 2014 Jade Heslin rated it really liked it
I’d be interested in knowing whether or not Shakespeare and Kyd actually got on. There are rumours that Shakespeare actually had a hand in writing part of this play, which suggests that they were like bezzo mates or something. But then there’s evidence suggesting that Kyd is the person that Shakespeare stole the story of Hamlet from. I wouldn’t be happy if somebody pinched my story and became really famous while I sank into deepest darkest oblivion.

Now, this is the only dabbling I’ve ever had in
Robert Sheppard

The Spanish Tragedy of Thomas Kyd (1587) is one of the touchstones of the Drama of the English Renaissance and well worth reading for anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, the evolution of English Drama and Literature and in the history and culture of the Renaissance and Elizabethan Age. The play is notable in the history of English drama in being the first innovative model of the ge
Mar 11, 2015 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama
THE SPANISH TRAGEDY. (1587). Thomas Kyd. **.
This is a very difficult play to read. I could not get through it, though I did my best. It’s importance rests on its early introduction of several different play practices. First off, it is claimed to be the first of “revenge” drama. It is also an early example of drama using the play-within-a-play technique. Some of the critical commentary I’ve read since attempting to read the play also indicates that Shakespeare had a hand in its writing. So…it’s a
Jan 18, 2010 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Influential Elizabethan revenge tragedy. Old Hieronimo's son Horatio is killed by another Spanish noble who wants to advance his own family's interests and influence through a royal marriage. Unable to gain justice through the state, Hieronimo concocts a scheme for revenge, using a play-within-a-play. The Spanish Tragedy is rife with betrayal, murder, suicide, and madness--both real and feigned. Like most plays, it would be better to see this on stage than to read it, but it was an enjoyable rea ...more
Nancy Burns
Mar 09, 2016 Nancy Burns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
Revenge Plays: most famous play is 'Hamlet' (WS).
...but Thomas Kyd " The Spanish Tragedy' is good too!
Time to let Kyd come out from behind Shakespeare's shadow!

My review:
Aug 31, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this read! It actually made me laugh out loud at parts, was I meant to live in the 1600s?
Roman Clodia
Jun 26, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Hieronymo's mad againe'

This tends to be looked at as *the* original Renaissance revenge tragedy that takes its roots from Seneca and other Latin sources, and which kick-starts a dramatic genre which flourishes via Titus Andronicus and Hamlet through to The Revenger's Tragedy, The Changeling and others.

The play itself is a wonderfully macabre story framed by a ghost and the figure of Revenge who sit on stage throughout watching over the drama that we are watching, while the deaths pile up. Among
Michael A
Oct 31, 2014 Michael A rated it really liked it
I can't express how much I love Shakespeare and Marlowe, so I'm actually a bit surprised that it took me this long to read this one -- especially since this one inspired both and provided a good model to work off of in their own plays. I'd definitely recommend you read this, if only to see why those two aforementioned playwrights were so clever in expanding the ideas within this one.

Especially Shakespeare.

You see, this one uses two very lovely self-referential devices. First we have the frame pl
Asma Fedosia
Feb 08, 2013 Asma Fedosia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This interesting play of the Elizabethan period was worth the day of reading it. Shakespeare's figurative language is better done, but this story was quite decent and well paced and would be nice to see performed. It was utilized in Orhan Pamuk's SNOW as a play within a play/novel and as an historical piece illustrative of unceasing disputes involving power, revenge, jealousy. The Ghost in it is said to precede Shakespeare's ghost in Hamlet. Kyd's play can nevertheless be appreciated on its own ...more
Martin Genet
Jun 05, 2013 Martin Genet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This now, seldom performed play requires careful reading, but if you are interested in revenge tragedies then it is certainly worth reading. I studied this text for a university paper and found it fascinating. It has a lot of similarities to Hamlet and if you have read that, I certainly think you should read Kyd's play. Both plays have inner plays that function as meta- theatrical devices that suggest that art has considerable power and ability to function as an agency for change.
Jan 24, 2014 Seamaiden rated it it was ok
I read it as a source for Hamlet. I actually enjoyed Hamlet too. I can see the similar patterns but for me these two plays are different, really different.
Feb 25, 2012 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was Hamlet before Hamlet. Name any trope in Elizabethan revenge drama and you'll find that this play started it all. The difference is that the main female protagonist is Bel-imperia, who is strong, independent, sexy, and badass in such a way that isn't seen on the English stage for another several hundred years later.
John Molina
Feb 09, 2016 John Molina rated it liked it
Kyd's "Spanish Tragedy" has been called the first revenge murder play and it has been cited by many critics as having influenced "Hamlet." The play itself contains a fairly interesting story about revenge, but some of the plot points and overall language of the play don't compare to a William Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe. Kyd does have a great grasp of poetic devices and uses many throughout the play, which I did appreciate. Although I found some parts of the play weren't needed, I can res ...more
Jul 05, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
I gave this an extra star for its importance to literary history. It's kind of a mess of a play, a bit draggy in parts, and with a play within the play that mostly shows how much better Shakespeare was at using that device. I also didn't feel the emotional connection Shakespeare usually includes in his tragedy, so there was very little sympathy when the bodies started to pile up.

Still, the play held my interest, and Kyd's poetic style was enjoyable, though certainly not among the best of the per
Jun 03, 2014 Brian rated it did not like it
I liked it, but for all the wrong reasons. It has a certain magnetism of plot and the opening describing a descent into hell is fairly inspired. Unfortunately, the energy of the play is seeing how all the characters get killed and when the revenge does come, it feels incidental. The play-within-a-play is not transformative like in Shakespeare, but just results in stage bodies. Also, the murder in Act II would never have been kept as much a secret if that many characters really knew about it. Ham ...more
Martin Michalek
Jan 23, 2014 Martin Michalek rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to make of this play. It's impossible—for me anyway—to read it sans Hamlet in the mind. And with that comparison, it's not very good. It's also a play that probably thrives on the stage more than it does on the page. (I watched a clip of Horatio's murder on YouTube and it was very engaging, whereas that scene on the page felt tedious.) Like a good tragedy by Seneca, we start to see how bloodlust yields to only more bloodlust, how evil begets more evil, etc, etc, etc. The only p ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, school
This text was required reading for my Studies in Renaissance Literature course at the University of Utah.

A Senecan closet tragedy come to life in Renaissance England. Known as "the grandfather of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet,'" Kyd's "Spanish Tragedy" is the first revenge tragedy. Newcomers to Renaissance drama will no doubt enjoy the mystery, murder and intrigue of this play. For me, it was a fascinating read, riddled with narrative and logistical problems that somehow failed to compromise its contemp
Atikah Wahid
Apr 03, 2016 Atikah Wahid rated it it was amazing
This play is surprisingly readable! Lol. I think after reading a ton of Shakespeare, Kyd's less complex prose is very much welcomed. While I tend to read a lot of Renaissance plays with a straight face, I think this play does a great job invoking the sadness of losing a son. And the villains are very villainy! I feel that Lorenzo is much more devious than Iago, mostly because he caused more damage. I also love that the play is segmented with a ghost that is bent on revenge but didn't have a stak ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
I had to read The Spanish Tragedy several times before I could get the rhythm and "enact" it in my head. It is, most certainly, a play to perform on stage, not one to read like a book. Very likely, that was why it was more popular than William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, before either were printed, and why it is less popular now.

Thomas Kyd’s language has a rich, rolling sound and some of the speeches are splendid. It is not at all like Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, which is w
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in June 2001.

Given how many devices are new in The Spanish Tragedy, it is absolutely astounding how well it works. Written in the early 1590s, possibly not by Kyd, it was the innovative precursor of techniques used by Marlowe, Shakespeare (Hamlet might be based on another, lost, play by Kyd), and the Jacobean revenge tragedies.

The plot of The Spanish Tragedy is a complicated revenge story, which is set up by the characters of Revenge personified and the recen
Jun 05, 2013 Eunice rated it liked it
Leaving aside the well-heard speech of “this is a very important work in Elizabethan drama that inaugurates the genre of the revenge tragedy, and proves to be a great influence in its time and a source of inspiration to Shakespeares Hamlet” The Spanish tragedy is a enjoyable play even for our times, or at least I think so. The most important feature that I would want to enhance is the use of the Chorus, or Andrea and Revenge, because despite the mythological references and the elaborated languag ...more
Jamie Murphy
Oct 10, 2014 Jamie Murphy rated it liked it
I enjoyed this pre-cursor to hamlet a lot except the final act, which i felt was rushed and a little forced in terms of the final tragedy. Kyd doesn't have Shakespeare's skill at characterisation, though he does weave a compelling story and has some moments of lyrical brilliance particularly in the third act. Overall its worth a read but was far superceded by the later works which it clearly influenced.
Jun 13, 2016 Joshua rated it really liked it
A tremendous influence on Shakespeare's "Hamlet". If that's not reason enough to read it, the play has a stronger/more admirable tragic protagonist in Hieronimo, a Spanish judge torn between leaving vengeance to God as the Bible instructs its followers and taking it himself in the face of an unjust government.
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Thomas Kyd (baptised 6 November 1558; buried 15 August 1594) was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama.

Although well known in his own time, Kyd fell into obscurity until 1773 when Thomas Hawkins (an early editor of The Spanish Tragedy) discovered that Kyd was named as its author by Thomas Heywood in hi
More about Thomas Kyd...

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“The less I speak, the more I meditate.” 8 likes
“My soule, poore soule thou talkes of things/ Thou knowest not what, my soule hath sliver wings,/ That mounts me up unto the highest heavens.” 5 likes
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