2nd out of 80 books — 11 voters
Volpone and Other Plays
In this collection of plays, now with a new title, Ben Jonson created in Volpone and The Alchemist hilarious portraits of cupidity and chicanery, while in Bartholomew Fair he portrays his fellow Londoners at their most festive—and most bawdy
Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Penguin Classics
(first published 1999)
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As absurd as it is insightful, VOLPONE moves at a brisk pace even when nothing in particular is happening. The first time I read it, I had trouble juggling the numerous characters. But eventually each takes a distinct voice: Voltore ("the Vulture) in his purposely ambiguous legalese and Corvino whose every word hangs on anxiety over his wife's unfaithfulness. VOLPONE is really the tale of Mosca, the brilliant parasite who works everyone behind the scenes; in his seemingly minor position, Mosca r...more
I'm not surprised that this is still Jonson's most-read/-performed play; the wit and conflict have aged well. It feels like he's doing something very clever with genre distinctions (e.g. the elements of this comedy bear erie resemblance to the tragedy of Othello, and Volpone was first performed in the Globe, by Shakespeare's company, shortly after they had put on Othello, so those similarities would have been in the minds of the original audience, too.
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems. A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and...moreMore about Ben Jonson...