Three Rastell Plays

Three Rastell Plays

Four Elements, Calisto and Melebea, Gentleness and Nobility

Edited by Richard Axton





The three interludes in this volume come from the press of John Rastell, barrister, printer, adventurer, member of parliament, brother-in-law of Thomas More, and one of the first men in England to have a stage built at his own house. The Four Elements is unique in its genre of scientific morality play. Rastell composed it himself to expound the rudiments of natural science and to air his own frustrating experience of venturing to the New World, in 1517. The anonymous Calisto and Melebea is based on the beginning of the notorious Spanish novel, La Celestina, and has an elegance and subtlety in its satirical comedy of manners that is not found elsewhere in early English drama. Gentleness and Nobiblitycrisply debates the case of aristocracy against meritocracy in a mocking humanist vein. It is probably by John Heywood, Rastell's son-on-law. The variety of the play testifies to Rastell's enterprise as publisher and their conmon theme of social responsibility to his strength of personality.


November 1979
2 line illustrations
175 pages
21x14.9 cm
Tudor Interludes
ISBN: 9780859910477
Format: Hardback
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Cumulatively, this series is performing an important service by providing fully annotated editions of Tudor humanists and playwrights in the original Tudor English. COMPARATIVE DRAMA

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