Darkness and Desire, 1804-1864, is the third volume in a monumental new series -- the first collection of kabuki play translations to be published in nearly a quarter of a century. Drawing on new research in kabuki performance and history, these translations of traditional plays are the work of twenty-two scholars, ranging from the most eminent in the field to younger scholars for whom kabuki is both an academic and personal passion. Published in four volumes, the series vividly traces kabuki's changing relations to Japanese society during the premodern era. The fourteen plays translated in Volume 3, Darkness and Desire, 1804-1864, mark an extreme point in the development of kabuki dramaturgy. The plays are remarkable, even within kabuki, for their intense theatricality, gutsy individualism of character, cold-blooded and ferocious violence, realism pushed into fantasy and grotesquery, novelty for its own sake, sexual aggressiveness, and assertion of female will. The plays depict a society in extremis, the end of an era, a time often marked by unmitigated darkness and desire.