Ben Jonson: A Sourcebook (Complete Critical Guide to English by James Loxley

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By James Loxley

This quantity deals the broadest variety of data on Jonson and his works, from historical past on contexts to info of modern interpretations of his performs.

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S provocation of judicial wrath. The publication of the two former plays and of his masque texts made sure that this success was reinforced by a claim to the kind of intellectual seriousness that would set Jonson apart, in his own mind, from mere playwrights or peddlers of court frippery, and associate him firmly with the gentlemen and wits he felt to be his proper milieu. Sejanus appeared encrusted in an apparatus of notes and quotations from its classical sources [136], while Volpone was printed both with a dedication to the universities where it had been performed and with an ‘Epistle Dedicatory’ which provided a learned critical justification of the work [64].

Drummond does not seem to have approved entirely of his guest, and his pithy concluding judgement on the King’s poet deserves to be quoted in full for the complex portrait it paints: He is a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others, given rather to lose a friend than a jest, jealous of every word and action of those about him (especially after drink, which is one of the elements in which he liveth), a dissembler of ill parts which reign in him, a bragger of some good that he wanteth, thinketh nothing well but what either he himself or some of his friends and countrymen hath said or done.

The Howards sought to reinforce their position by cementing a connection with the King’s current favourite. James’s fondness for handsome young men was no secret, and his high estimation of Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, ensured that Carr’s allies would be equally secure in royal estimation. Frances Howard, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, who had been married to the Earl of Essex in 1606, was in love with Carr; if a divorce could be secured, their marriage would cement a perhaps unassailable Carr-Howard alliance at the apex of the Jacobean court.

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