Ben Jonson and the Art of Secrecy

By William W.E. Slights

© 1994

Secrets accomplish their cultural work by distinguishing the knowable from the (at least temporarily) unknowable, those who know from those who don't. Within these distinctions resides an enormous power that Ben Jonson (1572-1637) both deplored and exploited in his art of making plays.

Conspiracies and intrigues are the driving force of Jonson's dramatic universe. Focusing on Sejanus, His FallVolpone, or the Fox; Epicoene, or the Silent WomanThe AlchemistCatiline, His Conspiracy, and Bartholomew Fair, William Slights places Jonson within the context of the secrecy- ridden culture of the court of King James I and provides illuminating readings of his best-known plays.

Slights draws on the sociology of secrecy, the history of censorship, and the theory of hermeneutics to investigate secrecy, intrigue, and conspiracy as aspects of Jonsonian dramatic form, contemporary court/city/church politics, and textual interpretation. He argues that the tension between concealment and revelation in the plays affords a model for the poise that sustained Jonson in the intricately linked worlds of royal court and commercial theatre and that made him a pivotal figure in the cultural history of early modern England.

Equally rejecting the position that Jonson was a renegade subverter of the arcana imperii and that he was a thorough-going court apologist, Slights finds that the playwright redraws the lines between private and public discourse for his own and subsequent ages.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 252 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP000045

  • PUBLISHED DEC 1994

    From: $27.71

    Regular Price: $36.95

    ISBN 9781442655027
  • PUBLISHED DEC 1994

    From: $27.71

    Regular Price: $36.95

Quick Overview

Equally rejecting the position that Jonson was a renegade subverter of the arcana imperii and that he was a thorough-going court apologist, Slights finds that the playwright redraws the lines between private and public discourse for his own and subsequent ages.

Ben Jonson and the Art of Secrecy

By William W.E. Slights

© 1994

Secrets accomplish their cultural work by distinguishing the knowable from the (at least temporarily) unknowable, those who know from those who don't. Within these distinctions resides an enormous power that Ben Jonson (1572-1637) both deplored and exploited in his art of making plays.

Conspiracies and intrigues are the driving force of Jonson's dramatic universe. Focusing on Sejanus, His FallVolpone, or the Fox; Epicoene, or the Silent WomanThe AlchemistCatiline, His Conspiracy, and Bartholomew Fair, William Slights places Jonson within the context of the secrecy- ridden culture of the court of King James I and provides illuminating readings of his best-known plays.

Slights draws on the sociology of secrecy, the history of censorship, and the theory of hermeneutics to investigate secrecy, intrigue, and conspiracy as aspects of Jonsonian dramatic form, contemporary court/city/church politics, and textual interpretation. He argues that the tension between concealment and revelation in the plays affords a model for the poise that sustained Jonson in the intricately linked worlds of royal court and commercial theatre and that made him a pivotal figure in the cultural history of early modern England.

Equally rejecting the position that Jonson was a renegade subverter of the arcana imperii and that he was a thorough-going court apologist, Slights finds that the playwright redraws the lines between private and public discourse for his own and subsequent ages.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 252 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    William W.E. Slights is a professor in the Department of English, University of Saskatchewan.