In his 1973 essay ‘Jonson and the Loathèd Stage’, Jonas Barish persuasively argues that both Jonson’s life and work are pregnant with an antitheatrical prejudice. Visible in every aspect of Jonson’s writing, Barish claims, are a deep-seated distrust of the theatrical experience and an undeniable preference for the printed word. In the decades following Barish’s essay, many scholars have sought to temper this perception of Jonson as an enemy of the stage; however, even those scholars who defend Jonson as a man of the theater still concede that he, alone among renowned Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, took an active role in the preparing and printing of dramatic texts for publication. Why was Jonson unique in this regard? What did he have to gain from the publication of his plays? And what were the consequences of Jonson’s involvement in the preparing of his dramatic texts for print?
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