Old Fortunatus: By Thomas Dekker (Revels Plays) (Hardcover)

Old Fortunatus: By Thomas Dekker (Revels Plays) Cover Image
By David McInnis (Editor)
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With its fantasy of magical travel and inexhaustible riches, Thomas Dekker's Old Fortunatus is the quintessential early modern journeying play. Written in November 1599 and performed at Richmond Palace before Queen Elizabeth I that Christmas, Old Fortunatus contains some of Dekker's finest poetry, earning the praise of such luminaries as Charles Lamb, Felix Schelling, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, who professed that 'Shakespeare has nothing more exquisite in expression of passionate fancy, more earnest in emotion, more spontaneous in simplicity, more perfect in romantic inspiration' than Dekker's play.

Derived from German folklore, Old Fortunatus dramatises the story of an impoverished Cypriot whom Lady Fortune blesses with the gift of a magical purse and who subsequently steals a wishing-hat that enables instantaneous transportation around the world. The adventures of Fortunatus and his sons offer the period's most overt celebration of the pleasures of travel, as well as a sustained critique of the dangers of intemperance and prodigality. Written following a period of financial difficulty for Dekker, who was imprisoned for debt in 1598 and again in 1599, the play is also notable for its fascination with the symbolic, mercantile and ethical uses of gold.

This Revels Plays edition is the first fully annotated, single-volume critical edition of Old Fortunatus. It offers scholarly discussion of the play's performance and textual history, including attention to the German version printed and performed in the early seventeenth century. By making Old Fortunatus newly accessible with unrivalled scholarly apparatus, this edition provides a long overdue critical reappraisal of this unjustly neglected play.

About the Author

David McInnis is the Gerry Higgins Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia

Product Details
ISBN: 9780719089435
ISBN-10: 0719089433
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: Revels Plays
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