This collection of William Empson's essays on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama is the second volume of his writings on Renaissance literature. Edited with an introduction by the leading Empson scholar John Haffenden, the contents range from famous essays on The Spanish Tragedy, Volpone, The Alchemist and The Duchess of Malfi to a sprightly piece on Elizabethan spirits. In addition, there are previously unpublished essays which revisit critical controversies, and a magnificent, provocative study of A Midsummer Night's Dream which ventures a major new reading of the play. 'I am attracted by the notion of a hearty indifference to one's own and other people's feelings, when a fragment of the truth is in question,' Empson stated. The incomparable Empson here fights his own critical corner with unequalled zest, intelligence and insight.