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Metadrama and the Informer in Shakespeare and Jonson$
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Bill Angus

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474415118

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415118.001.0001

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‘Masters both of arts and lies’: Metadrama and the Informer in Poetaster and Sejanus

‘Masters both of arts and lies’: Metadrama and the Informer in Poetaster and Sejanus

(p.115) Chapter 4 ‘Masters both of arts and lies’: Metadrama and the Informer in Poetaster and Sejanus
Metadrama and the Informer in Shakespeare and Jonson

Bill Angus

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores Jonson’s metadramatic technique in Sejanus and Poetaster and its staging of the legitimacy of poetic and political authority. The informer lurks in the metadramatic shadows here, as a significant element within both Jonson’s critique of compromised authority in Sejanus, and the implications he makes in Poetaster, about his artistic enemies. In both cases their authority is tainted by the connection, going beyond simply blaming informers for the woes of his society, the most significant aspect of this is the way in which metadrama and the structures of informing fit so integrally together. The chapter also asks what this means for the person of the author. If Poetaster addresses the relationship between poetic legitimacy and political authority within the world of the informer, Sejanus elevates this discourse to the realm of political revolution, in which, for the authorities of the time, Jonson’s desire to monopolise poetic legitimacy in the production of his own dramatic authority seems ambitiously excessive.

Keywords:   metadramatic, technique, legitimacy, informer, authority, structures, author, political, revolution, poetic

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