“For Luz is a Good Joke”: Thomas Lovell Beddoes and Jewish Eschatology
“What is the lobster’s tune when he is boiling?” asks the would-be overman Isbrand in Death’s Jest-Book, the Gothic drama Thomas Lovell Beddoes wrote and revised from 1825, when he was a medical student at the University of Göttingen, until his suicide in 1849. Answers to this question come in the songs scattered throughout the Jest-Book: in the scatological ballads of the oviparous tailor and flatulent new Cecilia, the eerie complaint of a mis-evolved new dodo crying with frog voice in the gloom, and the siren lisp of “the little snakes of silver throat/ever singing ‘die, oh die.’”1 The strangeness and emotional extremes of Beddoes’ poetry have long attracted a small but devoted following. Only in the last thirty years or so, however, have critics integrated what were once considered Beddoes’ eccentricities—social and political estrangement, homosexuality, and emotional difficulties—into a reading of questions of identity in the grotesque world of his play.
KeywordsEmotional Extreme Romantic Irony Magic Potion Mythical Creature Grand Cycle
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