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

By James Loxley

This quantity deals the broadest diversity of data on Jonson and his works, from heritage on contexts to information of contemporary interpretations of his performs.

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Extra info for Ben Jonson: A Sourcebook (Complete Critical Guide to English Literature)

Sample text

Both penned anxious letters to courtiers and patrons who might intervene to forestall any further punishment. Jonson felt able to address his suit to Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, a relative of his erstwhile accuser, as well as to both Cecil (now Lord Salisbury) and Pembroke, which demonstrates that his network of patrons was by then not only quite extensive but also crossed factional boundaries. In this instance, too, he was able to address himself to Esmé Stuart, Lord d’Aubigny, a ‘close and dear ’ relation of the King, one of his Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, and also a practising Catholic – an invaluable contact for someone like Jonson (Donaldson 1997: 61).

It is based heavily on the Roman comic drama of Plautus [10], combining the plotlines of two of his plays in a dense mix typical of late Elizabethan comedy and familiar to modern readers in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.

Was he perhaps a spy for Cecil? He certainly agreed afterwards to act as a go-between for Salisbury and a Catholic priest who apparently wanted to provide information helpful to the government, but we perhaps only need to class him with his co-religionist Lord Monteagle, who blew the whistle on the Plot when forewarned by letter. In early 1606 Jonson found himself called upon to account for his failure to take Anglican communion, as required by law. His allegiance to Catholicism shaken by the Plot, he undertook to consult with learned divines on doctrinal matters, and thus began the journey back to Anglicanism that was apparently completed by 1610.

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