Shakespeare and the Poets' War

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Columbia University Press, May 7, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 266 pages

In a remarkable piece of detective work, Shakespeare scholar James Bednarz traces the Bard's legendary wit-combats with Ben Jonson to their source during the Poets' War. Bednarz offers the most thorough reevaluation of this "War of the Theaters" since Harbage's Shakespeare and the Rival Traditions, revealing a new vision of Shakespeare as a playwright intimately concerned with the production of his plays, the opinions of his rivals, and the impact his works had on their original audiences. Rather than viewing Shakespeare as an anonymous creator, Shakespeare and the Poets' War re-creates the contentious entertainment industry that fostered his genius when he first began to write at the Globe in 1599.

Bednarz redraws the Poets' War as a debate on the social function of drama and the status of the dramatist that involved not only Shakespeare and Jonson but also the lesser known John Marston and Thomas Dekker. He shows how this controversy, triggered by Jonson's bold new dramatic experiments, directly influenced the writing of As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, and Hamlet, gave rise to the first modern drama criticism in English, and shaped the way we still perceive Shakespeare today.

 

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Contents

Shakespeares Purge of Jonson The Theatrical Context of Troilus and Cressida
19
PART ONE
53
Jonson on Shakespeare Criticism as SelfCreation
55
Representing Jonson Histriomastix and the Origin of the Poets War
83
Shakespeare in Love The Containment of Comical Satire in As You Like It
105
Marstons Festive Comedy Punishing Jonson in Jack Drums Entertainment
133
PART TWO
153
The War of the Private Theaters Cynthias Revels or What You Will
155
PART THREE
201
Impeaching Your Own Quality Constructions of Poetic Authority in Poetaster and Satiromastix
203
Ben Jonson and the Little Eyases Theatrical Politics in Hamlet
225
Troilus and Cressida and the Impact of the Poets War
257
CHRONOLOGICAL APPENDIX
265
NOTES
277
INDEX
325
Copyright

Shakespeare at the Fountain of SelfLove Twelfth Night at the Center of the Poets War
175

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About the author (2001)

James P. Bednarz is professor of English at the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University, where he has received the Newton Award for Excellence in Teaching. His articles on Elizabethan literary relations have appeared in a wide range of journals including ELH, Shakespeare Studies, Renaissance Drama, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, The Huntington Library Quarterly, and Spenser Studies.

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