The Jew of Malta
First performed by Shakespeare’s rivals in the 1590s, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta was a trend-setting, innovative play whose black comedy and final tragic irony illuminate the darker regions of the Elizabethan cultural imagination. Although Jews were banished from England in 1291, the Jew in the form of Barabas, the play’s protagonist, returns on the stage to embody and to challenge the dramatic and cultural anti-Semitic stereotypes out of which he is constructed. The result is a theatrically sophisticated but deeply unsettling play whose rich cultural significance extends beyond the early modern period to the present day.
The introduction and historical documents in this edition provide a rich context for the world of the play’s composition and production, including materials on Jewishness and anti-Semitism, the political struggles over Malta, and Christopher Marlowe’s personal and political reputation.