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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: Sejanus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0739  Thursday, 17 April 2003

[1]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 13:57:40 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

[2]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 13:06:09 +0000
        Subj:   Sejanus Collaboration

[3]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 14:39:28 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

[4]     From:   Roger Parisious <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 10:50:13 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

[5]     From:   Elliott H. Stone <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 09:31:43 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 13:57:40 +0100
Subject: Sejanus
Comment:        SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

>In the introduction to his "Sejanus", Ben Jonson seems to suggest that
>he had help from another playwright, who (presumably) wrote some of the
>scenes. Has anyone ever attempted to figure out what this collaborator
>contributed, or who the collaborator was?
>
>Russell MacKenzie Fehr

He actually says that he has re-written the play so as not to plagiarize
his collaborator's work in his Folio Workes of 1616, so the Sejanus we
have would appear to be all Jonson's own: "this Booke is not the same
with that which was acted on the publike Stage, wherein a second Pen had
good share: in place of which I have rather chosen, to put weaker (and
no doubt lesse pleasing) of mine own, then to defraud so happy a Genius
of his right, by my lothed usurpation": "To the Readers", 43-48, Sejanus
His Fall, Ben Jonson, ed. Herford and Simpson, Vol. IV, p.351

Most commentators suggest that he probably wrote the play with Chapman.

See R. P. Corballis, "The 'Second Pen' in the Stage Version of Sejanus",
Modern Philology 86 (1978), pp.273-277.

Peter Thomson argues that the second pen was Shakespeare's:
Shakespeare's Professional Career, pp.168-169.

Chapman seems the safer bet to me. One can hardly imagine Shakespeare
having anything to do with Sejanus.

Isn't Sejanus the best political play ever written?

martin (please note new email address)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 13:06:09 +0000
Subject:        Sejanus Collaboration

Wilkes had a punt on Chapman (from memory - i.e. my memory)

Best,
Graham Hall

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 14:39:28 GMT0BST
Subject: 14.0733 Sejanus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

>In the introduction to his "Sejanus", Ben Jonson seems to suggest that
>he had help from another playwright, who (presumably) wrote some of the
>scenes. Has anyone ever attempted to figure out what this collaborator
>contributed, or who the collaborator was?

Yes.  Chapman.  See any decent edition.

David Lindley
University of Leeds

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Parisious <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 10:50:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0733 Sejanus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

>In the introduction to his "Sejanus", Ben Jonson
>seems to suggest that
>he had help from another playwright, who
>(presumably) wrote some of the
>scenes. Has anyone ever attempted to figure out what
>this collaborator
>contributed, or who the collaborator was?
>
>Russell MacKenzie Fehr

There was inevitably an essay attribution to Shakespeare. It appeared in
a miscellaneous collection (in honor of whom?) during the l940's or very
early l950's and was definitely issued  in the United States with red
binding. Unfortunately, I cannot give the reference now as I read it in
the late l950's and have not seen it referred to by anyone else since.
Still some "Sejanus" bibliography (how many are there?) must have it.

Roger Parisious

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elliott H. Stone <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003 09:31:43 EDT
Subject: 14.0733 Sejanus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0733 Sejanus

I also have questions about this play. William Strachey, a close friend
and business partner of Jonson's, wrote a laudatory sonnet for the
preface of Sejanus. It is claimed that this poem might have influenced
King Lear.  Strachey also is credited as a source of the Tempest. I find
it very problematic given Strachey's personal life to credit these long
held misapprehensions. Strachey was truly a contemptible man, a
plagiarist in his earliest literary attempts, a liar and a traitor in
Istanbul, a bankrupt, an owner of the Children's Theater that was closed
by the Crown (I shudder to know the reason), and a man that stole the
literary output of some of England's most famous historical figures. His
Bermuda shipwreck and Virginia letter was written to blackmail the
Virginia investors!  I would posit a better explanation for these
troubling Shakespeare sources. I believe that the preparation and
editing of the First Folio was entrusted by the dedicates of that
monumental Shakespeare collection to Ben Jonson. This editorial work
took years prior to the publication of the First Folio in 1623 during
which time Jonson was supported and on the payroll of his patron William
Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.

There were many pages of Shakespeare's work that did not appear in the
First Folio.

Jonson had to choose, censor and suppress some materials and decide
which manuscripts, which Quarto's, and which early and later drafts of
the plays to use. Jonson also added his own work and that of others to
the First Folio.  Some of the unused papers went astray. Thorpe without
authority published the Sonnets. Jonson had a weak spot for his
impoverished friend and drinking companion William Strachey. It is
doubtful that the Bermuda shipwreck letter and the Virginia history were
written any where but in London. They were written by Jonson using
Shakespeare source material. Strachey is not a source for Shakespeare!
The exact opposite is the case.

Best,
Elliott H. Stone

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