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The Poetaster   By: (1573-1637)

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The Poetaster by Ben Jonson is a mesmerizing piece of literature that captivates the readers from beginning to end. Set in the vibrant world of Renaissance England, this play takes us on a thrilling journey exploring the complexities of art, ambition, and the clash between true poetry and mere imitation.

Jonson, a renowned playwright of his time, demonstrates his incredible wit and skill in this masterpiece. The Poetaster is a satirical comedy that cleverly and humorously mocks the excessive ambitions and pretensions of certain contemporary poets of the era. The characters are brilliantly portrayed and serve as vivid representations of different literary figures and their flaws.

The central character, Horace, is a young poet who gets entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal when he becomes enchanted by the allure of fame and recognition. Through Horace's story, Jonson delves deep into the themes of authenticity and artistic integrity. The playwright raises crucial questions about the purpose of poetry, urging us to question our own motivations and the authenticity of our own creative pursuits.

The sharp dialogues and clever wordplay are among the most impressive aspects of The Poetaster. Every line is brimming with Jonson's razor-sharp wit, leaving readers amused and engaged. The satirical nature of the play is masterfully balanced, never going too far to become harsh, yet still effectively exposing the follies of the characters.

Moreover, the depiction of ancient Roman figures, particularly those of Ovid and Virgil, adds a layer of depth to the play. Jonson effortlessly blends historical and fictional elements, creating an immersive experience for the audience.

Despite being a satirical comedy, The Poetaster is not devoid of emotional depth. Jonson skillfully weaves moments of tenderness and vulnerability into the narrative, providing a nuanced exploration of the human spirit and the pursuit of artistic excellence.

In conclusion, The Poetaster is a gem of a play that showcases Ben Jonson's immense talent and intellectual prowess. The combination of wit, humor, and thought-provoking themes makes this a truly remarkable piece of literature. Whether you are a lover of classic literature or simply seeking an entertaining read, this play is sure to leave an indelible mark on your literary journey.

First Page:



By Ben Jonson


THE greatest of English dramatists except Shakespeare, the first literary dictator and poet laureate, a writer of verse, prose, satire, and criticism who most potently of all the men of his time affected the subsequent course of English letters: such was Ben Jonson, and as such his strong personality assumes an interest to us almost unparalleled, at least in his age.

Ben Jonson came of the stock that was centuries after to give to the world Thomas Carlyle; for Jonson's grandfather was of Annandale, over the Solway, whence he migrated to England. Jonson's father lost his estate under Queen Mary, "having been cast into prison and forfeited." He entered the church, but died a month before his illustrious son was born, leaving his widow and child in poverty. Jonson's birthplace was Westminster, and the time of his birth early in 1573. He was thus nearly ten years Shakespeare's junior, and less well off, if a trifle better born. But Jonson did not profit even by this slight advantage. His mother married beneath her, a wright or bricklayer, and Jonson was for a time apprenticed to the trade. As a youth he attracted the attention of the famous antiquary, William Camden, then usher at Westminster School, and there the poet laid the solid foundations of his classical learning... Continue reading book >>

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