In this edition by two distinguished scholars, an introduction discusses the significance of this formative and brilliant play. Detailed commentary is provided on meanings of difficult words, lines, references, and the like. The edition is designed for classroom use in both schools and colleges as well as for the more general reader in search of the best of Renaissance drama.
This is the most thoroughly investigated edition of Volpone to date, based on a wider collation of the 1607 quarto and 1616 folio versions than was previously possible. It calls into question several accepted textual conclusions. The introduction sets Volpone in the context of Jonson’s career at the time of writing and introduces new material on its relation to the Reynard beast epic and the commedia dell’ arte. Ambiguities in the play are discussed with reference to two Renaissance perversions of the myth of the Golden Age. Particular attention is paid to the rhythmic effects of the play in performance, especially interweavings of the main plot and subplot. Fresh suggestions are made about the play’s opening and its controversial conclusion in the light of experiments that have been made in performance since Volpone ’s stage revival in 1921. The modernized text is accompanied by full commentary, notes and illustrations. The appendices include a discussion by John Cutts of the original music, passages translated from the original sources and analogues, and a full record of the play’s modern stage history, its many adaptations, and its transformations into opera, musical comedy, film and television.
Widely performed and studied, The Alchemist is one of the world’s great comedies. It was first performed in 1610, and its success kept it in the repertory until the closing of the theatres. After the Restoration, it was one of the first plays to be revived and it has been produced with increasing frequency ever since. This edition is based on a reconsideration of the early texts, but the spelling and punctuation are modernised. The comprehensive introduction details Jonson’s life and the play’s stage history, discusses the text in detail, and has a section of special interest on alchemy. This is a must for scholars and theatre-goers alike.
Based on the original Revels Plays edition.
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This edition brings together Jonson's four great comedies in one volume. Volpone, which was first performed in 1606, dramatizes the corrupting nature of greed in an exuberant satire set in contemporary Venice. The first production of Epicene marked the end of a year-long closure of the theatres because of an epidemic of Plague in 1609; its comedy affirms the consolatory power of laughter at such a time. The Alchemist (1610) deploys the metaphors of alchemical transformation to emphasize the mutability of the characters and ther relationships. In Bartholomew Fair (1614) Jonson ebroils the visitors to the fair in its myriad temptations, exposing the materialistic impulses beneath the apparent godliness of jacobean Puritans. Under the General Editorship of Michael Cordner of the University of York, the texts of the plays have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation. Stage directions have been added to facilitate the reconstruction of the plays' performance, and there is a scholarly introduction, detailed annotation, and a glossary.
Masques of Difference presents an annotated edition of four seventeenth-century entertainments written by Ben Jonson for the court of James I. These masques reflect both the confidence and the anxieties of the English aristocracy at a time when notions of monarchy, empire, and national identity were being radically redefined. All four masques reflect the royal court's self-representation as moral, orderly, and just, in contrast to stylized images of chaotically (and exotically) "othered" groups: Africans, the Irish, witches, and the homoeroticised figure of the Gypsy.
The five plays in this collection are Everyman in his Humour, the tragedy Sejanus, Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair. They represent the full range and complexity of Jonson's art as a playwright. The text is the modernized version of Herford and Simpson's edition (OUP 1925-52), with full annotation.
Everything you need to know about the cultural contexts of 'Volpone'. The unremitting exposure of human vileness is black and bleak, redeemed perhaps by the eventual punishment of the wrongdoers in an outcome achieved more by luck than justice. This book provides detailed in-depth discussion of the various influences that a Jacobean audience would have brought to interpreting the play. How did people think about the world, about God, about sin, about kings, about civilized conduct, about the predatory impulses that drive men to prey upon each other? Historical, literary, political, sociological backgrounds are explained within the biblical-moral matrices by which the play would have been judged. This book links real life in the late 1600s to the world on the stage. Discover the orthodox beliefs people held about religion. Meet the Devil, the Seven Deadly Sins and human depravity. Learn about the social hierarchy, gender relationships, court corruption, class tensions, the literary profile of the time, attitudes to comedy – and all the subversions, transgressions, and oppositions that made the play a topical satire but also an unsettling picture of a world so close to disaster.
One of a series, this one concentrating on Volpone by Ben Jonson.
A comprehensive introduction to Ben Jonson's Volpone - introducing its critical history, performance history, current critical landscape and new directions in research on the play.
The masque had a brief but splendid life as the dominant mode of entertainment at the early Stuart court, and it has increasingly come to be recognized as a genre offering a fascinating insight into the culture and politics of the early seventeenth century. This selection of 18 masques traces the evolution of the genre from Jonson's early masques for King James I to Davenant's 1640 masque for Charles I, performed just before the outbreak of civil war. It also includes examples of entertainments performed on royal progresses, as well as one domestic masque. Court masques were extravagant multi-media happenings, imbued with often arcane allegorical programmes by writers and designers, and frequently commenting on topical political issues. In this, the most substantial available selection, readers are offered the annotation necessary to gain an understanding of the complexities of the individual texts. Under the General Editorship of Michael Cordner of the University ofYork, the texts have been newly edited and are presented with modernized spelling and punctuation. In addition to the detailed notes there is a scholarly introduction, making this edition invaluable to students of Renaissance drama and court culture.
For this second edition, all the essays have been revised and updated.
The full general introduction includes a biography of Jonson, a full chronology of the plays and masques, and separate essays on each play, dealing particularly with Jonson's satirical treatments of trends and shams of the day, whether political, social, commercial, or spiritual. The changing roles of women in the period come under particular scrutiny. This text is intended to help students, graduate and undergraduate, see Jonson as he was seen by his contemporaries, the most influential and controversial playwright of the seventeenth century.
The Witch (1615/16?), categorised by its author as 'a tragi-comedy', pits the intrigues of a group of Italian aristocrats against the malevolent practices of Hecate and her witches' coven, leaving the audience with the impression that human malevolence is by far the fiercer and more effective. This edition sets the play into its dramatic and literary contexts, ranging from Shakespeare's Macbeth and Middleton's own later tragedies to Reginald Scot's sceptical Discovery of Witchcraft and King James's virulent Daemonologie. It also argues that Middleton wrote it as a topical satire to capitalise on the scandal involving Frances Howard, who obtained a divorce from the Earl of Essex on the grounds that he had been sexually incapacitated by witchcraft; she was also rumoured to have tried to poison him. Middleton exposes his noble characters precisely by letting them get away with murder.
Bartholomew Fair is the climactic play of Ben Jonson's great comic period. Using the fair as a symbolic representation of religious, social, and political conflicts in Jacobean England, Jonson satirizes Puritans, fortune hunters, country bumpkins, and inept representatives of the justice system, along with sharpsters and con men who inhabit the fair. This edition is the first to use the findings of feminist scholarship in examining the play's concern with forced marriage, pregnancy, sexual commerce, and widowhood.
This authoritative new edition of "Epicene" locates it precisely in the world of Jacobean wit, court, commerce sexual ambiguity and theatrical innovation which are its own subject-matter.

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