November 27th, 2005

bear by san

I guess that I miss you. I guess I forgive you. I'm glad that you stood in my way.

Now, if only Park Honan would write a Ben Jonson biography, my world would be complete. Really, somebody needs to. (there's a 1989 Riggs biography, but it's seriously OOP. If anybody stumbles across a copy for under twenty bucks, though, grab it and I'll reimburse.) (Interestingly, cheshyre, if I'm reading Honan's snark right (he doesn't name names, but he mentions other recent bios; draw your own conclusions), Honan has some uncomplimentary things to say about the scholarship in the Riggs Marlowe bio, especially the King's School and Cambridge chapters. In any case, he refutes a couple of things I know I read in Riggs.)

Yes, I know, Jonson bio probably = terribly uncommercial. But really, you'd think there would be enough blood and guts in Ben's life to make up for his lesser fame. Nevermind his rather horrible, lingering death....

Ben, y'see, really was the brawler and unholy terror that Kit is often (without too much evidence) made out to be. Not only is there the unfortunate demise of Gabriel Spencer, but there are other reports that have Ben pistol-whipping a man with the flintlock he brought to defend himself from Jonson(!) (who was already at that time under deferred sentence of death for the Spencer duel, BTW), and another story that I've read somewhere but have no provenance on that involves Ben putting another man's eye out while brawling.

Really, if you want a bad boy of the Elizabethan stage, the towering Master Jonson's broad shoulders can bear that weight rather handily.

Honan's book is full of lovely tidbits. According to him, that second fight Kit was in? The one in Canterbury that's often cited as evidence of his mental decline, and which resulted in him being bound over to keep the peace?

Kit used a stick and a dagger rather than a rapier and main gauche in that fight. (His opponent was apparently more traditionally armed.) Whether this means that Kit didn't bother drawing to prove a point, or whether he stopped carrying a sword after the Hog's Lane duel in which Tom Watson killed William Bradley, I don't know--but that's such a fantastic bit of information. I get all ashiver over some of this stuff--like the pistol-whipping story above--because it's the kind of real, telling detail that makes the people and the era leap to life for me.

Telling detail! Fabulous reality! Dashing poets caning armed men in a public thoroughfare!

Yeah, this is what history is about.

hidden hit counter
  • Current Music
    Tom Waits - Hoist That Rag
  • Tags
bear by san

another broken bottle and the damage done

Progress notes for 27 November 2005:


New Words: 1637
Total Words: 2,601
Pages: 13
Reason for stopping: lunch, and I'm not sure how the conversation goes.
Mammalian Assistance: Marlowe came to steal my breakfast, and Paladin WANTS something.
Stimulants: bengal spice tea, leftover turkey and gravy on a leftover biscuit.
Exercise: Gothercise, 30 minutes.
Mail: nomail
Today's words Word don't know: Caetei, Pacu, Arowana, Loach, Hippolytae, Gourami, Plecostomus, Flowerhorn, Goby,
Words I'm surprised Word do know: epicanthic
Tyop du jour: n/a
Darling du jour: n/a
Mean things: beat up the frog boygirl
Books in Progress: Manda Scott, Dreaming the Eagle; The Adams-Jefferson Letters;
Books read: Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy; Peter Ackroyd, Shakespeare: The Biography; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (who were, I might add, Sir Largely Not Appearing In This Novel, but I did make it all the way through the whole book on the second try--it's less frustrating to read the middle once you know how it ends); J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Ben Jonson, Sejanus; Ladislas Farago, The Game of The Foxes;

Spam name du jour: Summarizing M. Waller
Other writing-related work: n/a
Interesting tidbits: Thank you, Ron Charles, for this paragraph:

It's galling that some authors, such as, say, Anita Shreve, must constantly defend themselves from the pejorative "romance" label no matter how well they write, while romantic fluff like this can pass itself off as "literary fiction." It's the same in the kitchen, of course: Women just cook, but men are chefs.

bear by san

Your mission, should you choose to accept it--

Silly book. I've introduced the protagonists and done a little worldbuilding and set up their relationships, and now it seems to think it needs conflict, and a plot, and antagonists, and I need to figure out what the macguffin is, too. And get people into deeper water so I can set up the personal and political crisis that's going to drive the action in the second half, which is when the sting has to happen.

I mean, really.

Who ever heard of such a thing? Can't I just describe the water plants for 350 pages?

  • Current Music
    Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London
bear by san


According to the preachers, apprentices were seduced away to idleness by the temptations of the players, and as we all know, the Devil finds work for idle hands. The City Fathers, most of whom employed apprentices, understandably felt themselves to be better employers than the Devil.

--Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574-1642. (Which title I quibble with, lo, yes I do.)

Also, he goes on at great length regarding the Puritan loathing of the stage and of bawdy-houses, and the parallels between the two, and in general wins me over most magnificently long before he cites a use of the word "newefangled" in 1617.

Oh dear. The temptation is vast.
bear by san

(no subject)

I love Gurr's explanation for the notable briefness of Shakespeare's stage directions, even when compared to his contemporaries: In Will's case, there was no need for elaborate stage directions because the author was standing right there.

Since Elizabethan player troupes, as near as we can tell, more or less directed themselves, all he had to do was grab the miscreant by the ear and drag him to his mark, if he missed it.

That's another bit of fabulous reality. Almost as good as the stick story.
  • Current Music
    Sam Lay Blues Band - Walkin' Through the Park
  • Tags