Timon of Athens is a bitterly intriguing study of a fabulously rich man who wastes his wealth on his friends, and, when he is finally impoverished, learns to despise humanity with a hatred that drives him to his grave. The play's response to matters topical in Jacobean London sharpens its thrust as satire. Yet the setting in ancient Athens allows it to read as a timeless fable, deeply relevant to a modern society that sees itself as pursuing material prosperity tothe point of self-destruction. The first half of the play offers a satirical vision of a world of artifice and insincerity. The second half is a startlingly experimental drama in which a succession of Timon's real and false friends unsuccessfully challenge his commitment to his life as a misanthropicrecluse in the woods. The play's plot structure is schematically clear, and the poetry of Timon's rage is arresting in its savage intensity. Yet readers have often detected loose ends, and the tone of writing is uneven. In his Introduction, John Jowett explains how these characteristics arise because the play was written as a collaboration between Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton. This edition pays full justice to Middleton's presence, explaining how his contribution gave the play its distinctive edge. We asreaders need to read this play as a dialogue between writers of different temperaments, and this edition is the first to make such a reading possible. The Introduction provides the fullest account of the play's performance history available. The commentary is the most detailed ever to have been published. Appendices include source materials and a listing of major productions world-wide.
- Publication Date:
- 18 / 03 / 2004