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Bartholmew Fair

Bartholmew Fair
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: Ben Jonson
Edited by: George R. Hibbard
Introduction by: Alexander Leggatt
Publisher: Methuen
Series: New Mermaids
# of Pages: 189
Pub. Date: 2007
ISBN-10: 071367427X
ISBN-13: 9780713674279

About the Play:

Bartholmew Fair is a comedy in five acts by Ben Jonson. This carnivalesque comedy throws together pimps, puritans, and puppets, and the result is a madcap explosion of energy, wordplay, and misadventure.

The fair of St. Bartholmew, an annual summer carnival, offered Londoners an event to indulge their need for bodily delights and festival exuberance. The setting serves as Ben Jonson's opportunity to dissect a wide cross-section of Londoners and their various reasons for spending a day out among the booths, stalls, smells and noises of the fair. Unusually magnanimous for a Jonsonian city comedy, the main thrust of the satire is not against fools, madmen, fortune-hunters, or prostitutes, but against hypocrisy and bigotry. This edition shows that the play can be read as a comprehensive refutation of puritanism and the London magistracy, both of whom were attacking the theatre (and the festive culture of which it was still part) as idolatrous, seditious and disorderly.

Bartholmew Fair was the last written of Ben Jonson's four great comedies. This edition has been updated with a new introduction that examines Bartholmew Fair as a reading text, as a text for performance, and as a play that questions theater itself. There is a lively and comprehensively researched account of the play's historical, social, and theatrical context. Professor Alexander Leggatt has also updated the commentary and further reading section.

About the Playwright:

Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637) was an English playwright, poet, actor, and literary critic of the seventeenth century, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularized the comedy of humours. A major force in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, second only to William Shakespeare himself, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems.

The late George Hibbard was Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.