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Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637)

Nationality: BritishPeriods: British: 1500-1700

English Jacobean dramatist and poet, especially known for his masques

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Bartholomew Fair

Every Man Out of His Humour


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Criticism about Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson
This lengthy analysis of the author’s life and work includes sections titled “Ben Jonson�s character and friendships”, “Early life”, “Eminence in letters”, “Early Plays”, “His Tragedies”, “His later Comedies” and “His place in Literature.”
Contains: Extensive Bio, Criticism, Bibliography
Author: Ashley H. Thorndike
From: The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Volume V: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part Two
Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
This site, entitled Luminarium, was created for “students and enthusiasts of English literature.” Includes a varity of information on and about Ben Jonson including works, quotes, essays, a short biographical sketch, an audio file of “To Heaven,” and links to additional resources.
Contains: Sketch, Pictures, Commentary, Criticism, Bibliography, Works List, Webliography
Author: Anniina Jokinen.
Keywords: epigrams, the forest, underwood, shakespeare
Jonson and the Motives of Print
“Scholars agree that Ben Jonson presented himself to the world very convincingly in print. However, the details concerning his emergence remain unclear.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Richmond Barbour
From: Criticism Fall 1998
Jonson’s Stoic Politics: Lipsius, the Greeks, and the “Speach According to Horace”
“Markings made by Ben Jonson in his personal copy of Justus Lipsius’ Latin Politica (i.e., Politics), published in 1623, suggest that both men equated good politics with moral goodness. Jonson seems to have been one of many readers who prized Lipsius for showing how the insights of the ancient Greeks and Romans could be harmonized not only with Christian ethics but also with a practical concern for real political conduct. This article particularly reports Lipsius’ quotations (and Jonson’s markings) of passages from Greek authors. Jonson’s reading of Lipsius was also a way of re-reading the ancient Greeks, and to speak of the ‘Lipsian’ influence on Jonson’s politics during the reign of Charles I is to speak, indirectly, of a Greek influence as well. Various allusions in Jonson’s works show how Jonson used Lipsius to access the Greeks, while the long poem entitled ‘A Speach According to Horace’ illustrates the parallels between the political ideas and ideals of Lipsius and Jonson.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Robert C. Evans
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 4.1 (May, 1998): 1.1-44
Marking his Place: Ben Jonson’s Punctuation
“In the case of Jonson’s works as in that of any early modern text, the editorial goal of authenticity (a concern for the claims of the original text) competes with that of accessibility (a concern for the needs of the modern audience), the result too often a compromise that muddles the original text while still befuddling modern readers. The problem is especially acute in the case of Ben Jonson because he was so concerned to punctuate his own texts. Anyone who edits Jonson’s work edits an editor. To investigate his punctuation is to investigate not only his specific practices but, even more importantly, his theory of the text. A review of historical scholarship and a survey of representative passages from his works reveals that Jonson’s editorial practices conformed to continental Humanist theory. This theory, I contend, is based on the assumption that a text is an organic whole, not a set of autonomous sign systems (e.g., spelling, capitalization, fonts, punctuation). As a body, the text preserves the presence of its author; its punctuation signifies the nuances of the human voice at once preserved and suppressed in written language.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Sara van den Berg
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 1.3 (1995): 2.1-25
“On the Famous Voyage”: Ben Jonson and Civic Space
“In this essay I want to contextualize Jonson’s troublesome poem, situating it within the physical and cultural environment of early modern London. This aim undersets a combination of literary and spatial interpretation. As postmodern geographers and social theorists have demonstrated, space demands analysis not merely as a neutral container but as itself a product. Moreover, the production of space implies not only the drive of economic power across the land, but an interrelated cultural fashioning of meaning and consciousness. At a time of unsettling change in London, characterized by rapid population growth, the movement of commercial and industrial practices towards capitalist structures, and devastating outbreaks of dearth and plague, cultural products played a crucial role in shaping the spatiality of urban life. ‘On the Famous Voyage’ emerges within this context as an ironic commentary on, and disruptive intervention in contemporary constructions of space. The poem interweaves strains of satire and saturnalia, as Jonson maps a journey through a grotesque urban body.”
Contains: Criticism
Author: Andrew McRae
From: Early Modern Literary Studies 4.2 / Special Issue 3 (September, 1998): 8.1-31

Biographical sites about Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
This is a brief but fairly comprehensive biography of Ben Jonson.
Contains: Pictures, Extensive Bio
Author: Anniina Jokinen.
Keywords: epigrams, the forest, underwood, shakespeare

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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013