The Comedy of Errors

On 28th December 1954, the gentlemen of Gray’s INN saw a play under rather unusual circumstances. Its presentation followed a near-riot from which the Ambassador (the representative) from the Inner Temple escaped with his colleagues, presumably in a hurry. “After their departure the Throngs and tumults did somewhat cease, although so much of them continued as was able to disorder and confound any … [Read more...]

The Early Comedies – Shakespeare

It is in the nature of young artists to experiment in mode, form and content. This is an essential and often uncontrolled flexing of the imagination’s muscles. The danger, however, for the reader, is to isolate the author from his context and ignore any predisposition to be influenced by it. No writer, who is truly a writer, is generated solely by the inner workings of his own mind – least of all … [Read more...]

The Sonnets – Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, a quarto volume, was printed at London by “G. Eld for T.T.” in 1609. In the entry of the book in the Stationer’s Register, May 20, 1609, T.T. is identified as Thomas Thorpe; the scholarly consensus is that Thorpe gathered the contents of the book from manuscripts available to him and published them with Shakespeare’s knowledge. The printed text is not a very good one, … [Read more...]

Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist

1. There is no authentic evidence to show that Shakespeare’s views on the theory and practice of drama were alike. But, even then, by reading his plays we can know the methods generally adopted. We can arrive at certain deductions and build up our picture of Shakespeare as a dramatic artist. In the first place, there is not a particle of evidence to prove that Shakespeare held any views on the … [Read more...]

New Atlantis – Bacon

The New Atlantis was written in 1624. Living in political disgrace in bad health, Bacon left it a fragment. It is a utopia, though it is very little indebted to the previous utopias. Plato’s Republic has a political and ethical system, and More’s utopia is an economic satire. Bacon’s utopia deals with none of these problems. Bacon’s contemporary, Campanella, published his The City of the Sun in … [Read more...]

Marlowe’s Influence on Shakespeare

Marlowe establishes a landmark in the history of English Drama. An ardent student of ancient classics, he explored the infinite possibilities in indigenous drama and helped to set up a native tradition. He literally paved the path for the emergence of Shakespeare. (1)  According to the Greek composition of tragedy, the hero should be a Man of Moment – one whose destiny is closely tied with that … [Read more...]

Every Man In His Humour – Ben Jonson

R.S. Knox: “It has been said that Jonson’s chief aim in his comedies is the satirical portraiture of character. This is certainly the truth in EMIAH. The interest lies, for the most part, in a series of capital situations which permit the chosen victims – Stephen, Matthew, Bobadill and Kitley, to disport themselves, each “in his humour”. In a secondary way, it is a comedy of intrigue as well as a … [Read more...]

Epithalamion

An epithalamion is a wedding song or poem. Its Greek name conveys that it was sung on the threshold of the bridal chamber. The genre was widely practiced by the Latin poets, particularly Catullus. Catullus wrote two kinds of epithalamion: one in the elevated ceremonial style, the other in a more private lyrical style; it is the latter that Spencer follows in his Epithalamion. Common elements are: … [Read more...]

Chaucer

Chaucer’s Language (i) Born in an age when our language was in solution but at a temperature to crystallize, Fortune chose him as the nucleus. (ii) Chaucer, like Dante, found his native tongue a dialect and left it a language. But it was not what he did with deliberate purpose of reform; it was his kindly and plastic genius that wrought this magic of renewal and inspiration.  It was not the new … [Read more...]

The Battle of the Books

The Spider and the Bee Episode Swift wrote The Battle of the Books primarily to defend the position taken by his patron Sir William Temple in the pamphlet war at the end of the 17C, regarding the rival claims to greatness of the Moderns and the Ancients. The essay presents this controversy in the form of an imaginary battle between two sets of books in the Royal Library of St. James. As the … [Read more...]