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The Spanish Tragedy

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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,808 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
The Spanish Tragedy is the best-known play by one of Shakespeare's chief predecessors and early contemporaries, Thomas Kyd. Kyd was undisputed master and virtually the originator of what came to be called the revenge play, a genre that became one of the most durable and commercially successful types of drama on the Elizabethan stage.
Paperback, 37 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1592)
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Community Reviews

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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.
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Manab
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
একজন কমলালেবু নামের হীন বইটারে এক বিদগধ পাঠক দেখলাম পাঁচ তারা দিয়েছেন, ত ঐ বইটারে তিনি তারকাখচিত করার কারণ কী হইতে পারে এই ভাবনায় রিভিউ পড়তে গিয়ে মনে হইলো, রিভিউটা বা তারা কয়টা জীবনাননদ সাহেবের জীবনীনিরভর ঐ ঠোঙাপরদায়ী উপনযাসটার জনয না, বরং দাশবাবুর গোটা কযারিয়ারের জনয। বই পরসঙগে কিছু নাই, জামান সাহেবরে নিয়ে বুরবক সমাজে যে আষফালন, তাও নাই, আছে শুধু নিজের জীবনে জীবনাননদ সাহেবের উপসথিতির ফিরিসতি, সেও আবার দাশপরদতত শবদের হিড়িক বাঁধায়ে।

আমি যদি ঐ কিসিমে আগাই, তাহলে আমাকেও এই বইটারে, অরথাৎ সপেনিশ টরাজ
...more
Bryn Hammond
Jul 16, 2016 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
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Ana Rînceanu
During a battle for independence, Spanish officer Andrea is killed by the Viceroy of Portugal's son Balthazar, who in turn gets captured by Lorenzo and Horatio. Horatio comforts Lorenzo's sister Bel-imperia over Andrea's death, but she wants revenge. Balthazar and Horatio both fall in love with Bel-imperia and bloodshed is inevitable, but it's not what you'd expect.

On top of that, Andrea is now a ghost and watches events unfold with the spirit of Revenge (present onstage throughout the entirety
...more
Robert Sheppard
FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES----ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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
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Jesse
Jun 21, 2012 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
majoringinliterature
BALTHAZAR
Hieronimo, methinks a comedy were better.

HIERONIMO
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
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Yani
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jade Heslin
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Catherine
I have no idea what to think of this play.
Ed
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is an Elizabethan play that opens with a ghost intent on vengeance, features several assassinations and a woman running mad, shows its protagonist agonizing over taking revenge and contains a play within a play used to trap a murderer. The plays ends with a bloodbath, bodies littering the stage with few of the main characters left alive. It was strongly influenced by Senecan tragedy, full of melodrama (as well as slaughter) to please the groundlings and plenty of pedantic moralizing and ph ...more
Tony
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Ray
Jul 17, 2009 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
Asma
Jan 29, 2013 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 04, 2013 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.
Kat
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Emily
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this read! It actually made me laugh out loud at parts, was I meant to live in the 1600s?
Seamaiden
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.
Sabrina
3.5*
Majestic Terhune
With beautiful language and tragedy indeed,
I found this play quite worth the read.
Francisca
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-uni
And princes, now behold Hieronimo, | Author and actor in this tragedy, | Bearing his latest fortune in his fist: | And will as resolute conclude his part | As any of the actors gone before. | And, gentles, thus I end my play: | Urge no more words: I have no more to say.

The secret to success and enjoyment in life is to nourish and nurture low expectations—about pretty much everything. That is the best piece of advice I entail to pass on to future generations when I am old and cranky(ier.) That
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Rachel
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy, favorites
Some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read!
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2012 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
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Carol Arce
The Spanish Tragedy is described as the first revenge tragedy. And it is truly a tragedy as defined by Tom Stoppard in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: a tragedy is when everyone who can die, does die. The body count in The Spanish Tragedy ends up at 10! There are striking similarities between The Spanish Tragedy and another revenge tragedy that followed it, but is much more widely known, read and performed: Hamlet. Both plays feature a ghost who wants revenge for his death. The ghost in H ...more
Yngvild
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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Roman Clodia
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
'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
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Lexie
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play marks the beginning of the 'revenge tragedy' and I found Kyd's interpretation of revenge very mature and entertaining considering the infancy of the genre. Whereas the revenger typically remains an admirable hero-like figure, Kyd avoids this and delves deeper into the ethics of revenge by establishing Hieronimo, formerly a patron of justice, as a mad man and cold blooded murderer in the finale when he unnecessarily murders the innocent Duke. Regardless, it is hard to blame Hieronimo fo ...more
Mina Soare
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A TED talk once discussed the salutary effect of tragedies on mental health. Alas, it referred to ancient tragedies alone; Greeks and Romans of old understood that they had little power and that by no fault of theirs life sometimes sucked - the gods willed it. I liked old tragedies; sometimes they were even funny, in that Burton-esque way Euripides sometimes has.

In comparison, Marlowe, Shakespeare and now Kyd gleefully - it does seem so to me - go the other way, and it's stomach-turning even by
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Michael A
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Becky
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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
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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.” 6 likes
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