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Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship


  • 7 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 236 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.362 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521038188)

What is the history of authorship, of invention, of intellectual property? Joseph Loewenstein describes the fragmentary and eruptive emergence of a key phase of the bibliographical ego, a specifically Early Modern form of authorial identification with printed writing. In the work of many playwrights and non-dramatic writers - and especially that of Ben Jonson - that identification is tinged, remarkably, with possessiveness. This 2002 book examines the emergence of possessive authorship within a complex industrial and cultural field. It traces the prehistory of modern copyright both within the monopolistic practices of London's acting troupes and its Stationers' Company and within a Renaissance cultural heritage. Under the pressures of modern competition, a tradition of literary, artistic and technological imitation began to fissure, unleashing jealous accusations of plagiarism and ingenious new fantasies of intellectual privacy. Perhaps no-one was more creatively attuned to this momentous transformation in Early Modern intellectual life than Ben Jonson.

• A major contribution to the history of authorship • A rapprochement between theatre history, history of the book and literary analysis • Explores the paradox of possessiveness in Jonson, one of the greatest critics of modern acquisitiveness


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; 1. An introduction to bibliographical biography; 2. Community properties; 3. Upstart crows and other emergencies; 4. Jonson, Martial and the mechanics of plagiarism; 5. Scripts in the marketplace: Jonson and editorial repossession; 6. Afterword: the second folio; Index.

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