Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 59
Although Thomas Kyd was cited by Francis Meres for commendation not only for tragedy but also for poetry, no verse remains that can with certainty be ascribed to him. The translation of Torquato Tasso’s Il padre di famiglia (pr. 1583), published in English in 1588 as The Householder’s Philosophy ,...
(The entire section contains 898 words.)
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- Critical Essays
Although Thomas Kyd was cited by Francis Meres for commendation not only for tragedy but also for poetry, no verse remains that can with certainty be ascribed to him. The translation of Torquato Tasso’s Il padre di famiglia (pr. 1583), published in English in 1588 as The Householder’s Philosophy, is the only nondramatic work now generally attributed to Kyd.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 231
Probably no one questions Thomas Kyd’s historical importance in the development of Elizabethan English drama, and few who read The Spanish Tragedy doubt his power to move audiences even today. Though he has, inevitably, been damned for his failure to be William Shakespeare, modern critics and historians have generally regarded Kyd, along with Christopher Marlowe, as one of Shakespeare’s most important forerunners. Kyd entered the theatrical world of Elizabethan London at a time when medieval popular drama had run its course and classical drama, though influencing such plays as Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville’s Gorboduc (pr. 1562), had not effected a reshaping of contemporary English drama. Kyd brought the traditions together in The Spanish Tragedy, probably the most famous play of the sixteenth century. He combined an intrigue plot worthy of the comic machinations of Plautus or Terence with the revenge motif and violence suggested by Seneca’s closet dramas and presented it all with spectacular theatricality. He rescued blank verse from the boredom of discourse and used it to create the excitement of psychological realism. He exploited the possibilities of the theater by employing imaginative staging techniques. Although his reputation rests safely on The Spanish Tragedy alone, the fact that scholars have so easily believed through the years that Kyd may be responsible for a pre-Shakespearean version of Hamlet suggests the imaginative power most readers attribute to him.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 608
Ardolino, Frank R. Apocalypse and Armada in Kyd’s “Spanish Tragedy.” Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1995. Ardolino looks at Kyd’s major work, finding it to be a Reformation play, complete with apocalyptic symbolism. Contains bibliography and index.
Ardolino, Frank R. Thomas Kyd’s Mystery Play: Myth and Ritual in “The Spanish Tragedy.” New York: Peter Lang, 1985. Though somewhat specialized in focusing on a specific aspect of a particular play, this book places Kyd’s best-known tragedy in the context of previous, not subsequent, plays, looking at allegorical and mystery-play elements in The Spanish Tragedy. Includes index.
Barzun, Jacques, and Wendell Hertig Taylor. A Catalogue of Crime. Rev. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. List, with commentary, of the authors’ choices for the best or most influential examples of crime fiction. Kyd’s work is included and evaluated.
Barzun, Jacques, and Wendell Hertig Taylor. “Preface to Blood on the Bosom Devine.” New York: Garland, 1976. Preface by two preeminent scholars of mystery and detective fiction, arguing for the novel’s place in the annals of the genre.
Boas, Frederick S. The Works of Thomas Kyd. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1901. Though the commentary is dated, the general introduction to this still-standard edition of Kyd’s works remains a valuable resource, and the introductions to individual plays are in some cases the best starting point. Explanatory notes provide valuable help to the reader unfamiliar with Kyd’s works.
Bowers, Fredson. Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy. Reprint. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966. Classic work. Indispensable for understanding the genre and Kyd’s work.
Edwards, Philip. Thomas Kyd and Early Elizabethan Tragedy. London: Longmans, Green, 1966. The brevity of this booklet makes it an ideal first source for students, for its scope is general enough. Edwards identifies imagery and idea patterns essentially classical and pagan and argues against over-Christian interpretation of Kyd’s dramas. Includes an illustrated title page from a Kyd play.
Erne, Lukas. Beyond “The Spanish Tragedy”: A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd. New York: Manchester University Press, 2001. An in-depth study of The Spanish Tragedy and its influence on Tudor drama.
Freeman, Arthur. Thomas Kyd: Facts and Problems. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1967. As its title suggests, this book concerns itself mostly with the factual matters of dating, biography, and authorship, yet it contains some limited analysis of structure, style, and performance history of Kyd’s plays.
Leggatt, Alexander. English Drama: Shakespeare to the Restoration 1590-1660. New York: Longman, 1988. An extensive critical overview of the plays of the period.
Murray, Peter B. Thomas Kyd. Boston: Twayne, 1969. Of all the full-length works on Kyd, this volume is perhaps the easiest for the beginner to digest. Piecing together what little biographical information is available on Kyd, this study proceeds to an analysis of each of the dramatic works attributed to Kyd. Includes a well-annotated bibliography.
Panek, LeRoy Lad. The American Police Novel: A History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2003. Traces the evolution of the police procedural and helps place Kyd’s work within the subgenre. Bibliographic references and index.
Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel—A History. 3d ed. New York: Mysterious Press, 1993. Symons, a successful mystery author in his own right, argues that mystery fiction evolved over time from being concerned with the figure of the detective and the methods of detection to a primary focus on the nature of crime and criminality. Provides perspective on Kyd’s work.
Waugh, Hillary. “The Police Procedural.” In The Mystery Story, edited by John Ball. San Diego: University of California, 1976. A study of the police procedural, written by one of its famous practitioners, that sheds light on Kyd’s work.