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Book Title: The Knight of the Burning Pestle|
The author of the book: Francis Beaumont
Edition: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama
Date of issue: September 30th 2002
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Reader ratings: 3.8
ISBN 13: 9780713650693
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 898 KB
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'Let him kill a lion with a pestle, husband; let him kill a lion with a pestle.'
So exclaims the Grocer's wife who, with her husband and servants, is attending one of the London's elite playhouses where a theatre comany has just begun to perform. Peeved at the fact that all the plays they see are satires on the lives and values of London's citizenry, the Grocer and his wife interrupt and demand a play that instead contains chivalric quests and courtly love. What's more, they nominate their apprentice Rafe to take on the hero's role of the knight in this entirely new play.
The author, Francis Beaumont, ends up not just satirising the grocers' naive taste for romance but parodying his own example of citizen comedy. This play-within-a-play becomes a pastiche of contemporary plays that scorned those who were not courtiers or at least gentlemen or ladies. Like Cervantes in Don Quixote, Beaumont exposes the folly of those that take representations for realities, but also celebrates their idealism and love of adventure.
The editor, Michael Hattaway, is editor of plays by Shakespeare and Jonson as well as of several volumes of critical essays, and author of Elizabethan Popular Theatre, Hamlet: The Critics Debate, and Renaissance and Reformations: An Introduction to Early Modern English Literature. He is Professor Emeritus of English Literature in the University of Sheffield.
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Read information about the authorFrancis Beaumont (1584 – 6 March 1616) was a dramatist in the English Renaissance theatre, most famous for his collaborations with John Fletcher.
Beaumont was the son of Sir Francis Beaumont of Grace Dieu, near Thringstone in Leicestershire, a justice of the common pleas. He was born at the family seat and was educated at Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College, Oxford) at age thirteen. Following the death of his father in 1598, he left university without a degree and followed in his father's footsteps by entering the Inner Temple in London in 1600.
Accounts suggest that Beaumont did not work long as a lawyer. He became a student of poet and playwright Ben Jonson; he was also acquainted with Michael Drayton and other poets and dramatists, and decided that was where his passion lay. His first work, Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, appeared in 1602. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica describes the work as "not on the whole discreditable to a lad of eighteen, fresh from the popular love-poems of Marlowe and Shakespeare, which it naturally exceeds in long-winded and fantastic diffusion of episodes and conceits." In 1605, Beaumont wrote commendatory verses to Jonson's Volpone.
Beaumont's collaboration with Fletcher may have begun as early as 1605. They had both hit an obstacle early in their dramatic careers with notable failures; Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle, first performed by the Children of the Blackfriars in 1607, was rejected by an audience who, the publisher's epistle to the 1613 quarto claims, failed to note "the privie mark of irony about it;" that is, they took Beaumont's satire of old-fashioned drama as an old-fashioned drama. The play received a lukewarm reception. The following year, Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess failed on the same stage. In 1609, however, the two collaborated on Philaster, which was performed by the King's Men at the Globe Theatre and at Blackfriars. The play was a popular success, not only launching the careers of the two playwrights but also sparking a new taste for tragicomedy. According to a mid-century anecdote related by John Aubrey, they lived in the same house on the Bankside in Southwark, "sharing everything in the closest intimacy." About 1613 Beaumont married Ursula Isley, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Isley of Sundridge in Kent, by whom he had two daughters, one posthumous. He had a stroke between February and October 1613, after which he wrote no more plays, but was able to write an elegy for Lady Penelope Clifton, who died 26 October 1613. Beaumont died in 1616 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Although today Beaumont is remembered as a dramatist, during his lifetime he was also celebrated as a poet.
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