Textual Patronage in English Drama, 1570-1640

1st Edition

David M. Bergeron

Published November 29, 2017
Reference - 257 Pages
ISBN 9780815397380 - CAT# K344743


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Through an investigation of the dedications and addresses from various printed plays of the English Renaissance, David Bergeron recuperates the richness of these prefaces and connects them to the practice of patronage. The prefatory matter discussed ranges from the printer John Day's address to readers (the first of its kind) in the 1570 edition of Gorboduc to Richard Brome's dedication to William Seymour and address to readers in his 1640 play, Antipodes. The study includes discussion of prefaces in plays by Shakespeare's contemporaries as well as Shakespeare himself, among them Marston, Jonson, and Heywood. The book includes an Appendix that lists plays with prefatory dedications and addresses here analyzed. The author uses these prefaces to show that English playwrights, printers and publishers looked in two directions, toward aristocrats and toward a reading public, in order to secure status for and dissemination of dramatic texts. Bergeron points out that dedications and addresses to readers constitute obvious signs that printers, publishers and playwrights in the period increasingly saw these dramatic texts as occupying a rightful place in the humanistic and commercial endeavor of book production. He further suggests that for playwrights these self-conscious prefaces signal a developing sense and construction of authorship, since in them authors assert their identity, discuss their writing, and claim patronage in the dedications and addresses. By emphasizing patronage of both aristocrats and book-buyers, captured in and triggered by these prefaces, Bergeron redefines the "textual economies" at work in England's early modern period. This book is the first to offer a systematic analysis of prefatory material in English dramatic texts, compelling literary scholars, cultural historians and historians of the book to take seriously the intersection of patronage, book production, and playwrights' textual frames. As Bergeron persuasively argues, we cannot fully comp

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