» » Five Plays (World's Classics)

Download Five Plays (World's Classics) epub

by Ben Jonson

Download Five Plays (World's Classics) epub
ISBN: 0192505246
ISBN13: 978-0192505248
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Ben Jonson
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 1953)
Pages: 576 pages
ePUB size: 1968 kb
FB2 size: 1974 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 686
Other Formats: lit azw lrf mbr

This edition is based on Wilkes's 1981 "Complete Plays", which in turn is based on Herford & Simpson's Oxford edition of 1925-52.
The editing of the plays is fine, but lacks explanatory notes for the more arcane vocabulary. Notes are given on the same page, which is good, but are sometimes so succinct they require explanations themselves. One example: on p 104 the first explanation note merely says "lost in Jonson's fire". Huh? I had a hard time understanding this until I refer to a parallel OWC edition, which explains Jonson's explanatory tome for Horace's "Art for Poetry" was lost in a fire in 1623. If you really need to read this important contemporary of Shakespeare, I suggest purchasing individual volumes in New Mermaids or Revels series. If you really need a collection the Norton's "Plays and Masques" contains three plays (The Alchemist, Volpone, The Silent Woman) and the Cambridge "Selected Plays of Ben Jonson" gives much fuller annotations as well.
FYI, the plays included in this edition are Every Man in his Humour, Sejanus, Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair. While Jonson's language is not as accessible as Shakespeare's, his plays are by no means a waste of time. No one had a sharper ear for the ways in which people in society delude themselves and others. Sejanus is rough going for anyone who isn't an ancient-Roman history buff, but the comedies offer wicked portraits of con artists, hustlers, wannabes, posers, and manglers of language. This edition doesn't offer a lot of help to readers unfamiliar with 17th-century English, but it's a good basic version of these plays, some of which aren't easy to find in cheap editions.
The advantages of this collection are the number of plays it includes and its low price. Its disadvantage is the notes, which are insufficient for undergraduate classrooms, at least in the U.S. They're hit-or-miss. Sometimes they give you information you really do need, but they leave gaps. For instance, readers apparently should not need to be told that one of the meanings of "motion" in the seventeenth century is "puppet show." (See Volpone V.iv.77, on p. 332.) I used this edition to teach Volpone and Bartholomew Fair in a class of undergraduate English majors at a highly selective university in the fall of 2007. The unexplained vocabulary created a barrier for the students (and for me, frankly), and I ended up relying on the Norton edition edited by Richard Harp to fill in the gaps in our comprehension. I wish I had ordered that edition for the course instead; although it doesn't offer as many plays, it does also include three masques.