Sunday, June 21, 2015

Secret Ben Jonson Craze

Well, I'm almost done with this book about kings and when I'm done it will all be over, I've read them all, there are no more books about kings, though Peter Ackroyd is a fast writer. Ben Jonson pops up quite a bit in these books about kings and this play of his BARTHOLOMEW FAIR looks pretty okay from the description of it, so I thought I'd go to Square Books and pick up a copy as a way of weaning myself off of this time period and getting back to the real world, such as it is. So I opened up BARTHOLOMEW FAIR and there was a stage direction for someone to enter "hiding his nakedness with a dripping-pan." So I was like, what's this all about, Ben Jonson? I guess I'll find out. Miracle, who works at the store, saw me carrying the book around and told me that she has to keep reshelving Ben Jonson these days! Seems people are going crazy for Ben Jonson. "Maybe it's a secret club," said Miracle. I kind of want to read Burton's ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY - this Peter Ackroyd book makes it sound really good - and I do have a copy, a hardcover from 1927, "Now for the first time with the Latin completely given in translation in an All-English text," the title page says, but who am I kidding? I got it at A Cappella Books in Atlanta, no one knows how many years ago. Hmm, there's an owl right there on the frontispiece (see?) so that's a good sign. ("Bats, Owls the shady bowers over,/ In melancholy darkness hover" goes the accompanying verse.) What else can I tell you? I've already told you how many executions there are in these books. Lately there's been this terrible executioner named Jack Ketch, and when I say "terrible" I mean that he seems to be bad at his job. He messes up one execution so badly that he has to issue an apology. Small comfort!