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Contribution by John Creaser,Â editor ofÂ Bartholomew Fair
The Globe Theatre, London, is mounting a staged reading of Cynthia's Revels on Sunday, 2 December at 3pm, preceded by an introductory discussion at 12 noon-2pm. ThisÂ is probably the first time that the play has been publicly performed since the seventeenth century.
A long review essay by Blair Worden,Â discussing the edition and Ian Donaldson's Life of Ben Jonson, can be found in the London Review of Books for 11 October 2012. Worden asks whatÂ the impact of the edition is likely to be forÂ today's picture of Jonson, and how electronic editing affects our idea of Jonson'sÂ self-presentation asÂ author.
The date is significant if we are to understand the place of the folio version of Every Man In in Jonsonâ€™s stylistic and theatrical development. The choices most favoured in the on-going debate are some time around 1605 and 1612. In 1923 E. K. Chambers argued for the first date, noting that the revival at court on 2 February 1605 would have provided Jonson with an occasion for revision. Internal clues to support this date are, however, not very substantial. Bobadillâ€™s recounting of his presumed exploits at Strigonium â€˜some ten years nowâ€™ (3.1.92ff.) alludes to the Battle of Graan or ÃŠstergom in Hungary, recaptured from the Turks in 1595; but we need to consider that Bobadill is spinning a lie of epic proportions, and that when Brainworm, disguised as a wounded veteran, has his turn to recount his military career, he goes back all the way, in both quarto and folio texts, to the sieges of Aleppo (1516) and Vienna (1529). Internal evidence about the Turkish Grand Signor is no more substantial. Wellbredâ€™s letter to young Knowell promises him a present â€˜our Turkey company never sent the like to the Grand Signorâ€™ (1.2.69â€“70), which might have seemed especially relevant around after Christmas 1605, when a large gift was made to the Sultan, but this possible date has the disadvantage of coming after the court performance in February 1605. Moreover, payments to the Sultan were made in 1583 and 1593, and Dekkerâ€™s The Wonderful Year (1603) alludes familiarly to New Yearâ€™s gifts â€˜more in number and more worth than those that are given to the great Turk or the Emperor of Persiaâ€™.
On 30 April 2012, a public celebration of the edition and of Ian Donaldson's Life of Jonson was held at the British Academy, at which the three General Editors each spoke about their work on Jonson. An audio recording of the evening is now on the British Academy website and can be downloaded here (http://www.britac.ac.uk/cmsfiles/assets/11330.mp3).