The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0324 Wednesday, 8 April 1998.
Date: Tuesday, 7 Apr 1998 13:12:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Jonas Barish, 76, Scholar of Theater History
Jonas Barish, 76, Scholar of Theater History
By ERIC PACE
The New York Times, April 7, 1998
Jonas A. Barish, a historian of the theater and an authority on the
English dramatist and poet Ben Jonson and his contemporary Shakespeare,
died on Wednesday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif.
He was 76 and lived in Berkeley, Calif.
The cause was respiratory complications from pneumonia, said his
daughter Judith Barish.
Barish taught at the University of California at Berkeley, where he
joined the English department in 1954 after teaching at Yale. He retired
The critic and author Stanley Kauffmann wrote in 1995: "In a
distinguished book called 'The Antitheatrical Prejudice,' Jonas Barish
articulates the long record of this prejudice in the Western world." The
book reviews the history of enmity toward the theater as it has been
displayed, in drama and in literary theorizing in a variety of tongues,
from Plato's day to current times.
Kauffmann cited "one example, a famous one: in the 18th century,
Rousseau, who had already achieved success as a playwright, turned
bitterly against the theater as a source of moral imbalance."
Another Berkeley professor of English, Paul Alpers, said on Monday that
"The Antitheatrical Prejudice" (1981, University of California Press)
contains Barish's "most remarkable and scholarly work."
Alpers said the book "was immediately recognized as having given
intellectual and historical definition to a phenomenon which up to that
point had been only dimly observed and understood." For writing it,
Barish was awarded the American Theater Association's Barnard Hewitt
Award for outstanding research in theater history.
An earlier book by Barish, "Ben Jonson and the Language of Prose Comedy"
(1960), brought him prominence in scholarly circles. It has been called
a milestone in the interpretation of plays by Jonson.
Barish's writings included articles on Jonson, Shakespeare and other
English playwrights. He also edited editions of works by Jonson and
Barish was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He was born in New York City, was a graduate of Harvard College and
served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe during World War II. He
received a doctorate in English from Harvard in 1953, and taught briefly
In addition to his daughter Judith of San Francisco, he is survived by
his wife, the former Mildred Seaquist, whom he married in 1964; another
daughter, Rachel Barish, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and a sister, Grace
Pologe, of Teaneck, N.J.
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company