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The Play’s the Thing

In response to:

The Ruins of Walter Benjamin from the October 27, 1977 issue

To the Editors:

In his essay on Walter Benjamin (October 27), Charles Rosen discussed passages in sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century tragedy that present the stage as an emblem for illusion, and it seemed to this reader that a further example might be of interest. In John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (1623), a dying character explains his accidental killing of a friend as occuring “In a mist; / I know not how: such a mistake as I / Have often seen in a play” (V. v., ll. 94-96).

Harold E. Mahan

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