365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

107. Ben Jonson had a way with words…

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To the Reader.
This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut,
Wherein the Graver had a strife
with Nature, to out-doo the life :
O, could he but have drawne his wit
As well in brasse, as he hath hit
His face ; the Print would then surpasse
All, that was ever writ in brasse.
But, since he cannot, Reader, looke
Not on his Picture, but his Booke.

Ben Jonson’s
Commendation of the
Droeshout engraving
First published 1623.

Part of me feels that this may be a bit of a dig at the engraver of that rather unattractive image of Shakespeare. I mean, it really isn’t very flattering, is it? I’ve gone over this before. Sorry. I just couldn’t resist – having Ben Jonson to back me up, asking readers not to look at the picture and instead just read the words is pretty cool.

Okay, maybe it’s not a dig at the engraver. Jonson says he does pretty well, just that he wishes the man could engrave wit as well as he did faces. But I choose to interpret another way.


Written by Caroline Mincks

January 16, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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