Visiting the library to pick up some Massinger plays today, I was struck (again) by the prolific nature of early modern dramatists, and how little I’ve read of them: all of Ben’s plays, and Marlowe and Webster’s, yes. I’ve also made it through three-fourths of Shakespeare’s (there’s a few histories, and a comedy or two I’ve yet to get around to), and a third of Middleton’s. The other dramatists remain relatively unexplored: a pair of plays each from Ford, Beaumont and Fletcher, Brome and Marston, and one single play from Dekker, Heywood, Chapman, and Massinger. There are hard-bound, several-volume collections of each of these dramatists, just waiting to be checked out.
Until recently I felt secure knowing there were certain dramatists I wasn’t interested in reading at the present moment: I wasn’t in too great a hurry to read more of Chapman’s works, for example. Re-reading his conclusion to Hero and Leander however, I’m reminded that Chapman is a more than decent poet, and now wonder if I haven’t missed something in his plays.
Reading Hero and Leander, and now The Faerie Queen to the ladies, I’m reminded, also, how much I love early modern poetry. I thought I was safe from prose, however; that was before I picked up Thomas Nashe, and, of all things, Ben’s English Grammar (it’s surprisingly conversational). It turns out early modern prose is as much fun as the drama and poetry. I’ve read almost none of it.
I believe my summer is planned.
14 May 2009 ~ St. Catharines