Revenge has long been central to European culture. From Homer to Nietzsche, St Paul to Sylvia Plath, numerous major authors have been fascinated by its emotional intensity, and by the questions which it raises about violence, sexuality, death, and the nature of justice. In this exceptionally learned and lively book, John Kerrigan explores the literature of vengeance from Greek tragedy to postmodernism, ranging through material in several languages, as well as
through opera, painting, and film, while opening new perspectives on such famailiar English works as Hamlet, Clarissa, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. By means of broad
historical analysis, but also through subtle attention to the fabric of individual texts, Kerrigan shows how evolving attitudes to retribution have shaped and reconstituted tragedy in the West, and elucidates the remarkable capacity of his ancient theme to generate innovative works of art. Although Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon is a literary study, it makes fresh and ambitious use of ideas from anthropology, social theory, and moral philosophy. As a result it will be of
interest to students in a variety of disciplines, as well as to the general reader.
`From the hardback edition: He does all this with exemplary learning, and only occasionally wanders too far from his stated subject in search of something that has inspired his exceptional scholarly curiosity. The breadth of his interests is certainly impressive and so is the acuteness of his judgment in particular cases...At once brilliant and bewildering, refreshing and exhausting, this is a book to disturb anybody's intellectual peace'
The New York Review
`brilliant and subtly inclusive book'
London review of Books
`Revenge Tragedy is an astonishingly learned, versatile study. Its chapters are less phases of an unfolding case than lavish textual tapestries...this is a major work of literary scholarship, daunting in scope and subtle in perception, whose parts seem to profit from never quite adding up the whole towards which they gesture.'
Times Literary Supplement
`This an audacious, wide-ranging, and exciting book ... this remarkable book considers a vast diversity of material and yet the effect is not one of scattering or randomness but one of harnessing all possible (and some almost-impossible) material to the illumination of the central theme of revenge ... It is impossible to give a full account of a metamorphic, richly diverse succession of arguments ... the whole of K.'s remarkable monograph on revenge, offers
not only numerous suggestions for further development of his ideas, but also a rich, generous repertory of ideas on which any tutor who is committed to teaching classic texts in the modern academy can
draw with benefit and (despite the sombre theme of the book) real pleasure.'
Peter Davidson, University of Warwick, The Classical Review