A Celebration of Ben Jonson

A Celebration of Ben Jonson

WILLIAM BLISSETT
JULIAN PATRICK
R.W. VAN FOSSEN
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 194
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt15jvwf8
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  • Book Info
    A Celebration of Ben Jonson
    Book Description:

    The papers in this volume were given by some of the world's foremost Jonsonian scholars at a conference at the University of Toronto which marked the 400th anniversary of Ben Jonson's birth.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3216-5
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-2)

    Ben Jonson was born either in 1572 or in 1573, and it occurred to the rather large complement of Jonsonians in the various colleges of the University of Toronto that we might appropriately hold a conference in one of the anniversary years and publish the proceedings in the other. A committee was formed and drew up a programme of six papers. Happily, all six of the scholars we approached agreed to give papers; unhappily, a month before the conference was to be held Professor E.A. Armstrong of the University of London suffered an accident and had to withdraw, and so...

  5. THE INCREDIBILITY OF JONSONIAN COMEDY
    (pp. 3-26)
    CLIFFORD LEECH

    All comedy is a matter of make-believe. I need not talk much about the Greeks -either about Aristophanes, who gave us splendid cartoons of the anti-establishment, and occasionally of the establishment, figures that he wanted to rebuke, or about Menander, who gave us, as his successors Plautus and Terence did, the idea of absurdity that he and they saw prevailing in family life. All of these dramatists knew that things as they are were indeed incredible, and urged on us their exaggerations as a way of making us recognise that our own lives could not possibly be envisaged if we...

  6. JONSON AND THE LOATHÈD STAGE
    (pp. 27-54)
    JONAS A. BARISH

    Some years ago, when post-romantic prejudice was at last on the wane, and Jonson was first beginning to be studied sympathetically, U.M. Ellis-Fermor made a provocative comment in her book on the Jacobean drama. ‘As an artist and as a man,’ she wrote, ‘Ben Jonson was originally non-dramatic; at no time did he dramatize himself and it was only with some difficulty that he dramatized anything else. ... There is, as it were, a deeply inherent non-dramatic principle in him.’¹ As phrased, this observation seems open to question in certain ways. Jonson surely did dramatize things and persons other than...

  7. BEN JONSON AND HUMAN NATURE
    (pp. 55-82)
    GEORGE HIBBARD

    The world of Jonson’s major dramas is a fascinating place, incontrovertibly an intriguing place, but scarcely an attractive place. The urban or metropolitan setting, so rigidly adhered to in them, rules out anything much in the way of references to the beauties of nature. Old Knowell, his son, Master Stephen, and Brainworm have to cross Moorfields, in order to get from Hogsden to the City, where the rest of the action ofEvery Man in His Humourwill take place; but even if there were ‘daisies pied, and violets blue’ on the way, they would not notice them, since Brainworm’s...

  8. ‘THE STAPLE OF NEWS’ AND THE LATE PLAYS
    (pp. 83-128)
    D.F. MCKENZIE

    One of the most rewarding, and worrying, things about Jonson is his accessibility to criticism. It is not that his works are so richly varied that they become an

    Ocean where each kind

    Does sir eight its own resemblance find ...

    giving the Critic as Narcissus a ready but watery reflection of himself. They are too firmly defined for that. Nor do I mean to suggest that they do not demand an analytical brilliance and fine sensibility to social conduct if Jonson’s skills and the ethical concerns which they serve are to be realised with any truth. Indeed the erudition...

  9. ‘A MORE SECRET CAUSE’: THE WIT OF JONSON’S POETRY
    (pp. 129-166)
    HUGH MACLEAN

    The standing of Jonson’s poetry on the critical barometer, over the last century or so, may be said to have come right about from ‘Storm’ to ‘Set Fair’. Macaulay, gloomily contemplating what he called ‘the jagged misshapen distichs’ of Jonson’s couplets, thought that they resembled ‘blocks rudely hewn out by an unpractised hand, with a blunt hatchet’;¹ Sir Walter Scott recoiled from Jonson’s ‘coarseness of taste,’ noting his unhappy predilection for ‘filthy and gross ... pleasantry’ as a 'sin against decorum.’² Swinburne, lamenting that ‘so great an English writer as Ben Jonson should ever have taken the plunge of a...

  10. BEN JONSON: PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND SOCIAL POETRY
    (pp. 167-188)
    L.C. KNIGHTS

    John Hollander, in the introduction to his selection of Jonson’s poems in the Laurel Poetry Series, wrote:

    Considering that they are the work of a literary genius, Ben Jonson’s poems have had a curious critical fate. The epoch that most intimately responded to their virtues never singled them out for special praise, while our own age, so acutely conscious of history, acknowledges their importance and success and at the same time retains a fundamentally unsympathetic view towards them, seldom praising without apologizing.

    The useful little volume from which I am quoting appeared in 1961. Since then a good deal has...

  11. MEMBERS OF THE CONFERENCE
    (pp. 189-195)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 196-197)