This important series takes full account of contemporary literary theory, providing collections of key modern readings of major authors, genres and critical approaches. Prefaced by a wide-ranging editorial introduction setting the readings in context and exploring the issues they raise, individual volumes in the series offer the student authoritative and stimulating guides to the best theoretically-informed critical work on subjects from the Middle Ages to the present. The work of Ben Jonson has been the object of extensive study in recent years, with a noticeable shift in attention away from the traditionally foregrounded in plays to areas previously seen as more marginal to his work. In this new collection of essays, Richard Dutton examines the literary and cultural climate of Jonson's age, the concept of authorship itself, and its place in the transition from a largely oral culture to one predominantly of print, the workings of patronage, and the nature of a literary marketplace situated between the royal court and the expanding City of London. In Jonson's career we can detect the beginnings of the modern world.
The essays here, selected with that in mind: offer detailed readings of all the major plays, Sejanus, Volpone, Epicene, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair, and the poems, and later plays only recently recovered as genuinely engaging pieces for the stage. Collectively they demonstrate why interest in Jonson is higher today than at any time since his death.Richard Dutton is Professor of English at Lancaster University