Timon Of Athens (Arden Shakespeare)

William Shakespeare - Author

Timon, a wealthy, generous Athenian, is a man who never hesitates to help his friends in need. However, when he falls in dire straits and is forced to sell his property, he is deserted by all those who know him. Afflicted with a venomous hatred of mankind, he retreats into the forest, adopts a diet of roots and denounces his fellow humans in soliloquies of the most towering passion and most bitter invective.

"Timon of Athens" should rank amongst Shakespeare's greatest and most renowned tragedies. It is a mature work, displaying much linguistic virtuosity, charm of expression and highly imaginative images and allegories. It is hard to imagine why so many critics are dead-set against acknowledging it for the masterpiece it is. It possibly contains the direst abuse of human fickleness and folly and the most nihilistic (and most moving) yearning for death and extinction on the part of the maligned Timon.

The real stealer of the play, however, is Timon's foil, the philosopher, Apemantus. Embodying the most systematic misanthrophy, he smilingly and scornfully looks on Timon's open-handedness during his days of prosperity. Their encounter later in the forest is one of the most gripping of confrontations in literary history, containing some of the most exciting exchanges and the most inflammatory put-downs. A sadly unrecognised masterpiece.

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