Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship

Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship

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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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 236 pages
  • 151 x 227 x 10mm | 362g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 7 Halftones, unspecified
  • 0521038189
  • 9780521038188
  • 1,697,816

Table of contents

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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Review quote

"One of the crucial contributions Loewenstein makes to Ben Jonson studies involves his untangling of the competitive efforts of printers and stationers to corner the rights to Jonson's texts...Loewenstein's careful reconstruction of Jonson's intense and fractious history with his printers and the complex "story of proprietary negotiation" surrounding the Second Folio of 1640 adds to our understanding of Jonson's singular possessiveness about his texts." Renaissance Quarterly "Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship develops a gripping narrative about the serendipitous convergence of institutional competition, intellectual concern, and individual desire." Sixteenth Century Journal "This, in short, is a stunning study." Studies in English Literature "On every page of this book, readers will find something stimulating and challenging." Modern Philology
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About Joseph Loewenstein

Joseph Loewenstein is Professor of English Literature at Washington University, St Louis, Missouri.
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