Ben Jonson - Wikipedia
Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were two celebrated dramatists of .. effect which halts between archaisms and a kind of childish awkwardness. Among the critical production addressing Shakespeare's works over the last .. difference between the Jonson and the Shakespeare folios is that where Ben. ot only did Ben Jonson know Shakespeare, he said he loved him. ''I loved the man and do honour his memory (this side idolatry) as much as.
In the concluding sentence of the same sonnet: I agree with Katherine Duncan- Jones that "Shakespeare sometimes uses "both" to govern three or more objects. This throws an interesting light on the denial of poetry or poetic adequacy which is found in the Sonnets on several occasions and which, perceived outside the perspective just mentioned, may simply pass for a conventional case of meiosis. There are more poets than one, alas, and Shakespeare, whose best ally to gain and preserve the love of the young man is his literary talent - since, on the other hand, his social position sets him at a disadvantage - is left to deplore that poetic talent is not an exclusive treasure.
It is important to notice that for a remarkable period of time these "sugred Sonnets" praised by Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia in did remain in manuscript circulation among his private friends until the edition ofwhich, unlike Katherine Duncan- Jones,16 I cannot see as other than unauthorized. There is no reason to believe that, at any point, Shakespeare would have wanted his passionate involvement with the male friend officially declared and universally known, for reasons which had to do both with the social position of the youth and with he strictures of the laws against homosexuality.
Manuscript transmission of completely anonymous sonnets - in terms of their not being either subscribed by the author's name or including that of the addressee - was quite safe, and also matched the earlier mentioned manners of the Court in which Shakespeare moved both through his association with the friend and as a player and dramatist invited to fit royal performances.
The part-lifting of anonymity was, at very least, a social faux pas. The long plague ofironically occurring as it did just as Shakespeare's first dramatic successes had been grimly recorded by Robert Greene in his Groatsworth of Witcould only point to the necessity of having a noble and, if possible, a rich patron to fall back on.
Should, at the same time, the narrative poems meet with the approval of the readership relishing the literary descent of classical myth and legend, this would confer upon Shakespeare a literary status which his plays, no matter how excellent and successful, could never secure owing to the prejudices and contradictions that prevailed at the time.
Shakespeare, in the event, killed both these birds twice over, with his narrative poems. The dedications are of prime interest for my purpose.
Both are terse, keeping carefully away from the bulk and obfuscation of the often long and bombastic texts that usually serve in that capacity. In both, Shakespeare manages to flatter without grovelling. His hyperbolic praise of Southampton is, in a sense, tempered by the conventionality of circumstances.
In the dedicatory epistle of Venus and Adonis, he shows caution and modesty. He is careful to hedge his first gift to his patron by the promise to "take advantage of all idle hours till I have honoured you with some graver labour.
The device is no different from the one used in the Epilogue of 2 Henry TV analysed earlier on. It is a quarter shorter than the earlier dedication ninety words instead of one hundred and thirty. The first intended to give the patron "content. The conceit of the opening sentence is dazzling: The charming cheek of this hyperbole is rooted in an impeccable logical reasoning.
The non-publication of his dramatic works stands in sharp contrast with the social confidence of the poems' dedications. The dramatic company owned the copyright. The poor estimate in which plays were held outside the theatre is probably one of the hardest things to accept for the modern reader and spectator. I cannot resist enlisting the help of that eminent Oxonian, Thomas Bodley, to illustrate a point well known to our intelligence but remote to our affections.
Thomas Bodley's plans for his library began around and in he persuaded King James to visit his foundation.
Ben Jonson and Shakespeare - Blogging Shakespeare
Inhe achieved a master coup in persuading the Company of Stationers to grant the library in perpetuity the gift of a perfect copy of every book printed by a member of the Stationers' Company. This meant an ever-growing influx of books but, since every splendid gift has a dark side, the problem changed from that of finding books to that of separating the wheat from the tares. On 1st of Januaryhe writes to Thomas Baker, the keeper of his library: Sir, I would you had forborne to catalogue our London books, until I had been privy to your purpose.
In midlife, Jonson claimed that his paternal grandfather, who 'served King Henry 8 and was a gentleman',  was a member of the extended Johnston family of Annandale in the Dumfries and Gallowaya genealogy that is attested by the three spindles rhombi in the Jonson family coat of arms: Jonson's father lost his property, was imprisoned, and suffered forfeiture under Queen Mary ; having become a clergyman upon his release, he died a month before his son's birth.
In the event, the pupil and the master became friends, and the intellectual influence of Camden's broad-ranging scholarship upon Jonson's art and literary style remained notable, until Camden's death in On leaving Westminster School, Jonson was to have attended the University of Cambridgeto continue his book learning but did not, because of his unwilled apprenticeship to his bricklayer stepfather.
After having been an apprentice bricklayer, Ben Jonson went to the Netherlands and volunteered to soldier with the English regiments of Francis Vere — in Flanders.
The Hawthornden Manuscriptsof the conversations between Ben Jonson and the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden  —report that, when in Flanders, Jonson engaged, fought and killed an enemy soldier in single combatand took for trophies the weapons of the vanquished soldier.
Moreover, byhe was a working playwright employed by Philip Henslowethe leading producer for the English public theatre; by the next year, the production of Every Man in His Humour had established Jonson's reputation as a dramatist. The identity of Jonson's wife has always been obscure, yet she sometimes is identified as "Ann Lewis", the woman who married a Benjamin Jonson inat the church of St Magnus-the-Martyrnear London Bridge.
Martin's Church registers indicate that Mary Jonson, their eldest daughter, died in Novemberat six months of age. Moreover, 32 years later, a second son, also named Benjamin Jonson, died in An undated comedy, The Case is Alteredmay be his earliest surviving play. Jonson was jailed in Marshalsea Prison and charged with "Leude and mutynous behaviour", while Nashe managed to escape to Great Yarmouth.
Two of the actors, Gabriel Spenser and Robert Shaw, were also imprisoned. A year later, Jonson was again briefly imprisoned, this time in Newgate Prisonfor killing Gabriel Spenser in a duel on 22 September in Hogsden Fields  today part of Hoxton. Tried on a charge of manslaughterJonson pleaded guilty but was released by benefit of clergy a legal ploy through which he gained leniency by reciting a brief bible verse the neck-verseforfeiting his 'goods and chattels' and being branded on his left thumb.
William Shakespeare was among the first actors to be cast. Jonson followed this in with Every Man out of His Humoura pedantic attempt to imitate Aristophanes. It is not known whether this was a success on stage, but when published it proved popular and went through several editions. It satirised both John Marstonwho Jonson believed had accused him of lustfulness in Histriomastixand Thomas Dekker.
Jonson attacked the two poets again in Poetaster Dekker responded with Satiromastixsubtitled "the untrussing of the humorous poet". Jonson collaborated with Dekker on a pageant welcoming James I to England in although Drummond reports that Jonson called Dekker a rogue.
Marston dedicated The Malcontent to Jonson and the two collaborated with Chapman on Eastward Hoa play whose anti-Scottish sentiment briefly landed both Jonson and Chapman in jail.
Jonson quickly adapted himself to the additional demand for masques and entertainments introduced with the new reign and fostered by both the king and his consort  Anne of Denmark. In addition to his popularity on the public stage and in the royal hall, he enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats such as Elizabeth Sidney daughter of Sir Philip Sidney and Lady Mary Wroth.
This connection with the Sidney family provided the impetus for one of Jonson's most famous lyrics, the country house poem To Penshurst.
That same year he was questioned by the Privy Council about Sejanusa politically themed play about corruption in the Roman Empire. He was again in trouble for topical allusions in a play, now lost, in which he took part.
Shortly after his release from a brief spell of imprisonment imposed to mark the authorities' displeasure at the work, in the second week of Octoberhe was present at a supper party attended by most of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. After the plot's discovery he appears to have avoided further imprisonment; he volunteered what he knew of the affair to the investigator Robert Cecil and the Privy Council. Father Thomas Wright, who heard Fawkes's confession, was known to Jonson from prison in and Cecil may have directed him to bring the priest before the council, as a witness.
Title page of The Workes of Beniamin Ionsonthe first folio publication that included stage plays At the same time, Jonson pursued a more prestigious career, writing masques for James's court.
The Satyr and The Masque of Blackness are two of about two dozen masques which Jonson wrote for James or for Queen Anne, some of them performed at Apethorpe Palace when the King was in residence. The Masque of Blackness was praised by Algernon Charles Swinburne as the consummate example of this now-extinct genre, which mingled speech, dancing and spectacle.
On many of these projects he collaborated, not always peacefully, with designer Inigo Jones.
Ben Jonson - his life, work, and relationship with Shakespeare
Perhaps partly as a result of this new career, Jonson gave up writing plays for the public theatres for a decade. He later told Drummond that he had made less than two hundred pounds on all his plays together. This sign of royal favour may have encouraged him to publish the first volume of the folio collected edition of his works that year.
For the most part he followed the great north road, and was treated to lavish and enthusiastic welcomes in both towns and country houses. Drummond undertook to record as much of Jonson's conversation as he could in his diary, and thus recorded aspects of Jonson's personality that would otherwise have been less clearly seen. Jonson delivers his opinions, in Drummond's terse reporting, in an expansive and even magisterial mood. Drummond noted he was "a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others".
The period between and may be viewed as Jonson's heyday. By he had produced all the plays on which his present reputation as a dramatist is based, including the tragedy Catiline acted and printedwhich achieved limited success  and the comedies Volpone acted and printed inEpicoene, or the Silent WomanThe AlchemistBartholomew Fair and The Devil is an Ass Of Epicoene, Jonson told Drummond of a satirical verse which reported that the play's subtitle was appropriate, since its audience had refused to applaud the play i.
Yet Epicoene, along with Bartholomew Fair and to a lesser extent The Devil is an Ass have in modern times achieved a certain degree of recognition. While his life during this period was apparently more settled than it had been in the s, his financial security was still not assured. Religion[ edit ] Jonson recounted that his father had been a prosperous Protestant landowner until the reign of " Bloody Mary " and had suffered imprisonment and the forfeiture of his wealth during that monarch's attempt to restore England to Catholicism.
On Elizabeth 's accession he was freed and was able to travel to London to become a clergyman. Jonson's elementary education was in a small church school attached to St Martin-in-the-Fields parish, and at the age of about seven he secured a place at Westminster Schoolthen part of Westminster Abbey.
Notwithstanding this emphatically Protestant grounding, Jonson maintained an interest in Catholic doctrine throughout his adult life and, at a particularly perilous time while a religious war with Spain was widely expected and persecution of Catholics was intensifying, he converted to the faith.
Jonson's biographer Ian Donaldson is among those who suggest that the conversion was instigated by Father Thomas Wright, a Jesuit priest who had resigned from the order over his acceptance of Queen Elizabeth's right to rule in England.How Shakespeare Became the Greatest Writer of All Time (2004)
Conviction, and certainly not expedience alone, sustained Jonson's faith during the troublesome twelve years he remained a Catholic. His stance received attention beyond the low-level intolerance to which most followers of that faith were exposed. The first draft of his play Sejanus was banned for " popery ", and did not re-appear until some offending passages were cut. His habit was to slip outside during the sacrament, a common routine at the time—indeed it was one followed by the royal consort, Queen Anneherself—to show political loyalty while not offending the conscience.
The vicar of the Stratford church, John Ward, wrote that the trio of poets -- Ben Jonson, Michael Drayton and Shakespeare -- met in April for ''a merry meeting and it seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted.
Of course we shall never know. Jonson is the unanswerable argument against idiotic beliefs that Shakespeare's plays were written by somebody else, like the Earl of Oxford who died inbefore ''Lear'' and ''The Tempest'' were written.
In his essay ''Morose Ben Jonson,'' Edmund Wilson calls him ''anal erotic'' and traces his lifelong resentment to ''two sources -- first, the grievance of the man of good birth unjustly deprived of his patrimony; second, the sulky resentment of the man who can only withhold, against the man who can freely lavish'' -- meaning Shakespeare.
He was born Benjamin Johnson with an ''h. Ben was so thoroughly grounded in the classics that his lifetime of devotion to them won him honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge.
This may also explain his snide reference to Shakespeare's ''small Latin and less Greek.
Removed from Westminster, he was ''sentenced'' to a low trade, bricklaying, which he said he ''could not endure. He worked at bricklaying until he found a way out -- the army.
He served in the Low Countries, where he had ''in the face of both camps killed an enemy.
With children coming he began acting with playwagon groups in the country, working up to a role at the Swan, where he played Hieronimo in Thomas Kyd's ''Spanish Tragedy. He collaborated with the poet Thomas Nashe on a new play, ''The Isle of Dogs,'' and its satire of the nobility was considered so subversive the queen's kennels were on the Isle of Dogs that Jonson landed in prison.
In he killed a fellow actor, Gabriel Spencer, in a duel. He told Drummond that Spencer ''hurt him in the arm with a sword 10 inches longer than his, for which he was imprisoned and almost at the gallows. His big break came in February James I granted him the royal pension of marks per annum for life, with an annual butt of Canary wine. His career flourished, and he found a generous young patron in Lord Aubigny Esme Stuarta blood relative of the king, with whom he lived five years.