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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

II. Chapman, Marston, Dekker

§ 14. The Fawne

In The Fawne, Marston had promised shortly “to present a tragedy which should boldly abide the most curious perusal.” But the tragedy, when it came, certainly belied the author’s promise. The Wonder of Women Or The Tragedie of Sophonisba is the crudest of Marston’s performances. The story told by Livy and other historians, has been frequently dramatised—in English by Lee (1706) and Thomson (1730); in French by Corneille (1663), and in German by various hands. Sophonisba herself is rendered not without force and skill, but, for the rest, the play is a singularly feeble attempt to do justice to a powerful tragic theme. The witch Erichto and the scenes in which she appears are almost ludicrous in their failure to produce the intended impression of mystery and horror. It is difficult to understand how the author could have believed the piece to possess any literary quality; it is easy to see that he has overleaped the limits of his power.