Marston’s Gorge and the Question of Formalism

  • Joseph Loewenstein


To begin with some afterwords: in Shirley’s The Cardinal, Antonio marvels over the Duchess, who seems to him as

Serene, as I

Have seen the morning rise upon the spring,

No trouble in her breath, but such a wind

As came to kiss and fan the smiling flowers.


Tone Contour Speech Stress Morning Rise Early Play Infant Speech 
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  1. 1.
    Miriam Allott, ed., The Poems of John Keats (London: Longman, 1970).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arnold Davenport, ed., The Poems of John Marston (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1961). All references to Marstons poems are to this edition.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    James Shirley, The Cardinal, ed. E. M. Yearling (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 2.1.117–21.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Coburn Freer, The Poetics of Jacobean Drama (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981); Freer assembles a large body of evidence reminding us that stress, pause, tone contour, and pace were recognized matters of professional theatrical concern (41–46). Not only did dramatists remark when a fellow did not stand upon points, but so did audiences and other actors; apparently, players could expect to be coached by playwrights in elocution and heckled by those who disapproved of the results.Google Scholar
  5. See also O. B. Hardison’s Prosody and Purpose in the English Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), which is extremely useful in enlarging the historiography of technique offered by Attridge (see note 6 following), but which is somewhat unsystematic in its treatment of dramatic poetry.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Derek Attridge, Well-weighed Syllables: Elizabethan Verse in Classical Metres (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Edmund Gosse and Thomas James Wise, eds., The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 20 vols. (London: Heinemann, 1926), 11:354. Swinburne, who alleges that Marston’s piece in Chester’s volume “may perhaps claim the singular distinction of being more incomprehensible, more crabbed, more preposterous, and more inexplicable than any other copy of verses … in which Marston has the honour to stand next to Shakespeare” (371), will later praise him for the “healthy disgust” of his satiric manner (377). Swinburne describes Marston’s verbal manner best, I think, when he charges that “he sets himself to bring to perfection the qualities of crabbed turgidity and barbarous bombast with which nature had but too richly endowed him, mingling these among many better gifts with so cunning a hand and so malignant a liberality as wellnigh to stifle the good seed of which yet she had not been sparing” (12:141). This gets things almost exactly right, which is why it is so dismaying that Swinburne believed himself to be describing, not Marston here, but Chapman—as would have been clear had I sustained the quotation, for Swinburne immediately focuses his attention on a characteristic “obscurity,” which is not Marston’s, but Chapman’s, middle name.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    John Marston, Antonio’s Revenge, ed. G. K. Hunter (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965), Prologue 1–6 and 21–33.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Cf. the parallel situation in The Malcontent, when the usurper Pietro threatens the subordinate collaborator who controls him: “A mischiefe fill thy throate, thou fowle jaw’d slave”; John Marston, The Malcontent, ed. M. L. Wine (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964), 1.7.1.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    John Marston, Antonio and Mellida, ed. G. K. Hunter (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965), 1.1.208–20.Google Scholar
  11. 35.
    H. Harvey Wood, ed., The Plays of John Marston, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1934–39) 3:273–74.Google Scholar
  12. 36.
    Ben Jonson, Poetaster, ed. Tom Cain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 5.3.281–2. Even leisure is effortful for Crispinus. Invited to tour Albius’ garden, he prefers to sit still, assuring his host, with a draw on the core Marstonian lexicon, “I am most strenuously well, I thanke you, sir” (2.1.13).Google Scholar
  13. 41.
    John Hollander, “Spenser’s Undersong,” in Cannibals, Witches, and Divorce: Estranging the Renaissance, ed. Marjorie Garber, Selected Papers from the English Institute, n.s. 11 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 1–20.Google Scholar
  14. 42.
    Peter Stallybrass, “Transvestism and the ‘Body Beneath’: Speculating on the Boy Actor,” in Erotic Politics: Desire on the Renaissance Stage, ed. Susan Zimmerman (London: Routledge, 1992);Google Scholar
  15. Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare’s England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
  16. Gail Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  17. Jeff Masten, “Is the Fundament a Grave?” in The Body in Parts: Fantasies of Corporeality in Early Modern Europe, ed. David Hillman and Carla Mazzio (New York: Routledge, 1997), 129–46, may be excepted from these reservations.Google Scholar
  18. 44.
    For a related and far more sustained account of the extra-erotic early modern body, see Michael Carl Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  19. 46.
    Bruce Smith, The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark David Rasmussen 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Loewenstein

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