Morality Play (Norton Paperback Fiction)

Morality Play (Norton Paperback Fiction)

Barry Unsworth

Language: English

Pages: 206

ISBN: 0393315606

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The national bestseller: A medieval murder mystery full of the wonders of the time―and lessons for our own time―by a master storyteller.

The time is the fourteenth century. The place is a small town in rural England, and the setting a snow-laden winter. A small troupe of actors accompanied by Nicholas Barber, a young renegade priest, prepare to play the drama of their lives. Breaking the longstanding tradition of only performing religious plays, the groups leader, Martin, wants them to enact the murder that is foremost in the townspeoples minds. A young boy has been found dead, and a mute-and-deaf girl has been arrested and stands to be hanged for the murder. As members of the troupe delve deeper into the circumstances of the murder, they find themselves entering a political and class feud that may undo them. Intriguing and suspenseful, Morality Play is an exquisite work that captivates by its power, while opening up the distant past as new to the reader.

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band of jongleurs came to the inn to the sound of drums and bagpipes, and began at once to set out their pitch against the wall of the yard, opposite the entrance—the best place. Martin, already in the short white smock of Adam before the Fall, emerged from the byre to find a bear tethered to the wall, rope-walkers putting down their mats, and a strong-man unloading chains from a handcart. For some moments he stood there, bare-legged in the cold, as if unable to believe his eyes. Then he moved

understanding. As a player He can have His own voice, but He cannot take the voices of others. The Father of Lies has more privilege, who can borrow the tongue of the Serpent.” “It is damnable to speak of God in such a way, as if He were no more than a voice among other voices.” Seeing my distress, he smiled but not to deride me. His smile was lazy, coming slowly, at odds with the tenseness of his face in repose. “In some way we have to see Him, if we put Him in a play,” he said. “Let us see

celebrant priest. How far did he believe what he told us? He talked of true and false but he did not mean these words as they are commonly meant. He wanted a play with strong scenes, one that would disturb the people and send them away changed. Is that a true play? And he wanted money. He won us over, but to win us over was his role. He was prompted in the lines that he spoke, as were we all. Some fascination of power led us to imprison ourselves in this Play of Thomas Wells. Ten WE

the torches on the wall, I felt the buffets of the demon, I followed in clumsy pursuit, recovered myself, spoke on a theme from Matthew the Evangelist. “Thomas Wells, keep you the straight way that leads to salvation, turn not aside. They are voices of Satan that tempt you with soft words and promise of delight. O sinful soul, keep you the narrow way …” Voices came from the people, one more persistent than others, shouting advice to me. Always there are those who think it a great joke to

lath-wood? The ground is hard with the frosts of these last days. We will labor till dark to make a grave and it will not be deep enough to keep the crows from picking his eyes.” “We have knives,” Stephen said. He had meant for digging but there was now a terrible pause while Martin looked steadily at him and he returned the look. Then the boy Springer stepped forward before either man could say more. He was always a peacemaker, though the youngest, one of the blessed who will be known for the

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