Bartholmew Fair

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A. & C. Black, Apr 20, 2007 - Drama - 189 pages
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The fair of St. Bartholmew, an annual summer carnival, offered Londoners an event to indulge their need for bodily delights and festival exuberance. The setting serves as Jonson's opportunity to dissect a wide cross-section of Londoners and their various reasons for spending a day out among the booths, stalls, smells and noises of the fair. Unusually magnanimous for a Jonsonian city comedy, the main thrust of the satire is not against fools, madmen, fortune-hunters, cuckolds or prostitutes, but against hypocrisy and bigotry.  This edition shows that the play can be read as a comprehensive refutation of puritanism and the London magistracy, both of whom were attacking the theatre (and the festive culture of which it was still part) as idolatrous, seditious and disorderly. Ben Johnson, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor.

Alexander Leggatt is Professor of English at University College, University of Toronto.

G. R. Hibbard was Emeritus Professor of English, University of Waterloo, Ontario. The fair of St. Bartholmew, an annual summer carnival, offered Londoners an event to indulge their need for bodily delights and festival exuberance. The setting serves as Jonson's opportunity to dissect a wide cross-section of Londoners and their various reasons for spending a day out among the booths, stalls, smells and noises of the fair. Unusually magnanimous for a Jonsonian city comedy, the main thrust of the satire is not against fools, madmen, fortune-hunters, cuckolds or prostitutes, but against hypocrisy and bigotry.

This edition shows that the play can be read as a comprehensive refutation of puritanism and the London magistracy, both of whom were attacking the theatre (and the festive culture of which it was still part) as idolatrous, seditious and disorderly.

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Editor Alexander Leggatt is Professor of English at University College, University of Toronto.  Editor G. R. Hibbard was Emeritus Professor of English, University of Waterloo, Ontario.

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