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After Bartholomew Fair, Jonson's dramatic powers suffered a decline. However, this play – co-authored with Thomas Nashe – made its mark for the wrong reason. He started writing for the London theatre in his mid-twenties, and his first play to make a real splash was The Isle of Dogs, in 1597. One major source of information is the record of conversations with Jonson kept by the Scottish poet Drummond of Hawthornden. Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email. As well as writing both tragedies and comedies, Jonson also wrote masques. Thanks for this! By 1597 he was in London, the center of dramatic activity, and had begun writing plays for the theatrical manager Philip Henslowe. He remained nonetheless an impressive and respected figure, especially in literary and intellectual circles. Jonson's special contribution to this remarkably exuberant age was his strong sense of artistic form and control. The Isle of Dogs, Jonson ran afoul of the law. 4. Bartholomew Fair (1614), unlike Jonson's other comic masterpieces, does not rely on complicated intrigue and deception. The main action turns on Volpone's clever scheme to cheat those who are as greedy as he but not nearly so clever. An immensely learned man with an irascible and domineering personality, he was, next to Shakespeare, the greatest dramatic genius of the English Renaissance. It was specifically a courtly entertainment. Ben Jonson was buried standing up in Westminster Abbey. In 1598 he was in more serious trouble. It was favorably received not only by London theatergoers but by more sophisticated audiences at Oxford and Cambridge. Jonson's special contribution to this remarkably exuberant age was his strong sense of artistic form and control. The English playwright and poet Ben Jonson (1572-1637) is best known for his satiric comedies. Its relatively thin plot is little more than an excuse for parading an enormously rich and varied collection of unusual characters. He is perhaps best known for two comedies, his plays Volpone and The Alchemist. Terms of Use Although an accomplished scholar, he had an unusual appreciation of the colloquial speech habits of the unlettered, which he used with marked effect in many of his plays. Related facts about Don Johnson Johnson & Johnson Adrien Brody Randy Johnson Dustin Johnson Magic Johnson. Jonson's treatment of such characters, however, is less harsh than it was in Volpone, and their punishment consists largely in their humiliating self-exposure. The play was suppressed for its seditious content, all copies of it were ordered to be burned, and so it was never printed. great majority of playgoers considered it a pedantic bore. Samuel Taylor Coleridge opined, ‘Upon my word, I think the Oedipus Tyrannus [by Sophocles], The Alchemist, and [Henry Fielding’s novel] Tom Jones the three most perfect plots ever planned.’ Jonson was also the first person to use the word ‘palindrome’ in English. If you enjoyed these facts about Ben Jonson, you might also enjoy our fascinating Shakespeare facts, our myths and misconceptions about Shakespeare, and our analysis of Jonson’s elegy for his son Benjamin. The Broken Compass: A Study of the Major Comedies of Ben Jonson, Ben Jonson and the Language of Prose Comedy, Endeavors of Art: A Study of Form in Elizabethan Drama, The Growth and Structure of Elizabethan Comedy. His major achievements were solidified by Nobody at the time recorded the precise nature of the ‘sedition’ contained in the play, so we can only speculate. Ben Jonson was probably born in or near London, about a month after the death of his clergyman father. Francis Meres, an invaluable source of information about Elizabethan theatre, called Jonson ‘our best in tragedy’ – this was at a time when Shakespeare had also made his name on the London stage – but most of these tragedies with which Jonson made his name have not survived. Most of his poetry was written in short lyric forms, which he handled with great skill. Although he continued writing plays for another 15 years, most of these efforts have been dismissed as "dotages." 1. For more interesting literary trivia, we recommend our book crammed full of 3,000 years of interesting bookish facts, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, available now from Michael O’Mara Books. He did not continue his schooling, probably because his stepfather forced him to engage in the more practical business of bricklaying. In what is probably his first piece of dramatic writing. He received his formal education at Westminster School, where he studied under the renowned scholar William Camden. Image: English playwright, poet, and actor Ben Jonson (1572-1637) by George Vertue (1684-1786) after Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656); Wikimedia Commons. and Jonson's nondramatic writings include a grammar of English (printed in 1640), a miscellaneous collection of notes and reflections on various authors entitled Timber, or Discoveries (also printed in 1640), and a large number of poems, almost all of them written in response to particular events in the poet's experience. 3. By continuing, you agree to our By 1604, before he had written his most enduring works, Jonson had become known as the foremost writer of masques in England. He evidently continued his scholarly study of the classics, which had occupied him throughout his active life. Many critics consider Jonson to be among the best playwrights of his time, when William Shakespeare also lived. Jonson's only other surviving tragedy, Catiline His Conspiracy (1611), met with a similar fate. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! He spent a brief period as a soldier in Flanders and sometime between 1592 and 1595 he was married. His talents as a masque writer were not fully appreciated by the new king, and as a result Jonson was frequently short of money. Epicoene, or the Silent Woman (1609) is an elaborate intrigue built around a farcical character with an insane hatred of noise. In recognition of his stature as the foremost man of letters of his age, he was buried with great ceremony in Westminster Abbey. Five Fascinating Facts about Ben Jonson 1. Nor is he buried in Poets’ Corner where so many other famous English writers are interred (such as Edmund Spenser, 38 years before, who was buried beside Chaucer), but nearby. With the help of his servant Mosca, he pretends to be deathly ill; each of the dupes, encouraged to believe that he may be designated heir to Volpone's fortune, tries to win his favor by presenting him with gifts. Although he is now best-known as the author of city comedies such as Bartholomew Fair, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour, and The Alchemist, Jonson started out writing tragedies for the London theatre, but unfortunately such titles as Robert II of Scotland, Hot Anger Soon Cold, and even Richard Crookback (compare Shakespeare’s Richard III) have not survived. After this brief but heated skirmish, Jonson turned his energies to what he clearly regarded as one of his most important works, Sejanus His Fall, which eventually appeared in 1603. Having killed a fellow actor in a duel, he escaped hanging only by claiming right of clergy—that is, by reciting a few words of Latin commonly known as "neck-verse.". Ben Jonson. Jonson's next major play, Every Man out of His Humour, appeared in 1599 or early 1600, followed closely by Cynthia's Revels (1601) and Poetaster (1601). myths and misconceptions about Shakespeare, analysis of Jonson’s elegy for his son Benjamin, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History. Because he could only afford to buy a tiny amount of space in the abbey, Jonson was buried in an upright position. He died on Aug. 6, 1637. After the death of King James I in 1625, Jonson suffered a number of setbacks. The first name of his character has been Travis, in three of his movies which released consecutively- … In 1619, for example, he was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford. Ben Jonson (11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637) was a major poet and playwright in English Renaissance drama. This play stands as a model of the "comedy of humors," in which each character's behavior is dictated by a dominating whim or affectation. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); © 2020 About / Privacy policy / Contact / Advertise, 10 Evil Serial Killers That Are Still On The Run. In the summer of 1618 Jonson took a walking tour to Scotland, in the course of which he spent a few days with Drummond. The play (which has not survived) was judged to be a "lewd" work containing "seditious and slanderous matter," and Jonson was imprisoned. In The Alchemist (1610) the characters are activated more by vice than folly—particularly the vices of hypocrisy and greed. Jonson began his theatrical career as a strolling player in the provinces. These highly refined allegorical spectacles were designed for courtly audiences, and as a rule members of noble or royal families took part in the performances. ‘Father Christmas’ first appeared in a 1616 play by Ben Jonson. Privacy Policy. In the same year Jonson's first major work, Every Man in His Humour, was performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, with Shakespeare taking the lead role. His lyric style tends to be simple and unadorned yet highly polished, as in the epigram on the death of his first daughter, which begins "Here lies to each her parents ruth,/ Mary, the daughter of their youth.". It is also a very cleverly constructed play. Jonson (c. 1572-1637), the adopted... 2. These three "comical satires" represent Jonson's contribution to the so-called war of the theaters—a short-lived feud between rival theatrical companies involving Thomas Dekker, John Marston, and perhaps other playwrights in addition to Jonson himself.

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