Cyril Tourneur

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Cyril Tourneur’s only noteworthy work in addition to his plays is The Transformed Metamorphosis (1600), an obscure allegorical verse satire on religion in a metaphysical style. He also wrote three elegiac works on prominent figures. A few short prose works and occasional verses, signed only “C. T.,” have been attributed to him without further evidence of his authorship.


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Cyril Tourneur ranks among the chief Jacobean dramatists. For writing the The Atheist’s Tragedy, he must be recognized as the talented author of a well-structured and interesting variant of the revenge tragedy. In this thesis play, Tourneur creates a memorable villain and several interesting minor characters, shows a deft hand at the farcical twist, and daringly and successfully blends medieval structural devices with more modern ideological concepts.


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Camoin, François A. The Revenge Convention in Tourneur, Webster, and Middleton. Salzburg: Institut für Englische Sprache und Literatur, Universität Salzburg, 1972. Stresses the complexity of moral views among Jacobean playwrights, which led to the questioning nature of their works. Emphasizes the different techniques of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights writing revenge plays.

Jacobson, Daniel J. The Language of “The Revenger’s Tragedy.” Salzburg: Institut für Englische Sprache and Literatur, Universität Salzburg, 1974. Jacobson investigates such aspects of Tourneur’s language as antithesis, irony, and paradox.

Murray, Peter. A Study of Cyril Tourneur. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1964. This full-length study of Tourneur provides a definitive discussion of the authorship question for The Revenger’s Tragedy. Tourneur’s two plays are analyzed in detail for their art and thought. Murray also gives considerable attention to The Transformed Metamorphosis but little or no attention to other minor works.

Schuman, Samuel. Cyril Tourneur. Boston: Twayne, 1977. A basic biography covering the life and providing critical analysis of the works of Tourneur. Includes an index.

White, Martin. Middleton and Tourneur. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. White compares and contrasts the works of Thomas Middleton and Tourneur. Includes a bibliography and an index.

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Critical Essays