Ben Jonson: Selected Masques

Stephen Orgel

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March 1, 1970
352 pages, x
ISBN: 9780300012590
Paper

The Renaissance court masque, traditionally an entertainment of music, dancing, pageantry, and spectacular scenic effects was transformed by Ben Jonson into a serious mode of literary expression. Because its flexibility provided a forum for his dramatic imagination, Jonson was able to resolve and transcend the satiric vision that was in many ways the substance of his drama. He instructed as well as applauded his courtly audience and, with the aid of the great theatrical designer Inigo Jones, brought unity to the diverse elements of the masque, infusing them with a moral and poetic life.
In early 1969, Yale University Press published The Complete Masques, the first one-volume edition and the most carefully edited and annotated text available. A modernized version, the 576 page Complete Masques includes the faithful reprinting of Jonson’s own glosses and notes, translated and annotated, as well as explanatory notes which offer the most detailed critical commentary ever undertaken. This abridged collection contains the most important of the works included in the large edition, and Mr. Orgel’s introduction which discusses Jonson’s development of the masque in relation to Inigo Jones’s development of the illusionistic stage.
Mr. Orgel is associate professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley.
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