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The Devil Is an Ass: And Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – October 4, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (October 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555543
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,401,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The series should reshape the canon in a number of significant areas. A splendid and imaginative project." --Professor Anne Barton, Cambridge University

About the Author

M. J. Kidnie is in the Department of English at South Bank University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This excellent Oxford World's Classics collection is unusual in that none of these plays by Ben Jonson were well-received when first performed, and furthermore, have seldom been staged until recent years. Nonetheless, all four plays - Poetaster, Sejanus his Fall, The Devil is an Ass, and The New Inn - make good reading.

I especially recommend these plays to readers already familiar with Jonson's better known works like Volpone, The Alchemist, Epicene, and Bartholomew Fair. Reading Jonson can require effort and this Oxford World's Classics edition is to be highly commended for the excellent introduction, explanatory notes, and glossary by Margaret Jane Kidnie.

Poetaster: Among his earliest plays, Poetaster was first staged in 1601, the same year as Hamlet. (A poetaster is a trivial rhymester, a writer of doggerel, at best an inferior poet.) Although Poetaster is primarily about the relationship of the Roman poets Ovid, Virgil, and Horace with governmental authority, several scenes are devoted to ridiculing two mean-spirited, envious, plagiaristic poets, Crispinus and Demetrius. Despite the setting in ancient Rome, the audience quickly recognized that these two inept poets were caricatures of Jonson's bitter rivals, John Marston and Thomas Dekker.

Sejanus his Fall: Previously, Jonson had focused on satirical comedies; writing a historical tragedy was quite a change. Unfortunately, despite a cast that included Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare (perhaps, playing the lascivious Tiberius), Sejanus his Fall was a failure. To make matters worse, despite Jonson's effort to carefully document the historical accuracy of his play, he was summoned by the Privy Council to defend himself against charges of sedition and slander.
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